Monday, May 27, 2013

Academic Honesty, Australian Style

We're revamping our academic honesty "curriculum" and practice for next year.  It could definitely be better!  As is often the case,  part of the problem is the inconsistency among the staff regarding either their

a)  misunderstanding of MLA or
b) complete indifference to it (let's be honest)

Personally, I think any academic honesty agenda must focus on both students AND staff.  You can tell the students all you want, but if the faculty take a  laissez faire attitude in their requirements, the students will too.

Fortunately, our HS curriculum coordinator is up in arms about this, and it's high on his agenda for next year.

All of which is my verbose and round-about way of linking to this excellent online curriculum from New South Wales, All My Own Work.

I'm definitely going to make it a consistent feature in my pathfinders.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Rethinking the Library Annual Report (Part I)

Maybe it's just because it's May, I'm end-of-the-year cranky, and there are only 11 more days of school...but I hit the wall this year with the Annual Report and thought: Enough is enough!

So this is my Declaration of Independence, and let the nay-sayers have at it in the comments section.

Annual Reports are a COMPLETE waste of time.

There.  Do I have your attention?

Now let me qualify that:  They are a complete waste of time in their current iteration--and, yes, I've seen Buffy and Joyce's 30 page exemplars! Not having their stamina, my past AR's tended to be in the 9-12 page category, but even at that, my HS principal last year turned white when I put it on her desk.

Moreover, I don't think she ever read it.  Nor have any other of my administrators for the 4 other annual reports I've written in my 6 years as a teacher-librarian,  and it really galls me because those things take HOURS to put together.

I think there are a couple of reasons for that, but the most important one is a blog post all by itself, so I'll save that for the weekend!

The easiest problems to fix are these:
  • Administrators are really, really, busy.
  • Annual reports are really, really (and I mean REALLY) boring.
It doesn't matter how many photos or cute quotations you add in (and I create very visually pleasing reports, if I say so myself), they are tedious at best.

I had a brainstorm back when I was doing infographics with the students, and telling them they were great to use when you wanted to convey a lot of data with only a quick glance.  It hit me Yikes!  I'm describing an annual report!

I wanted to give the information in as painless and visual a way as possible, and infographics are the way to do that.

The report is also lots of me blah, blah, blahing about everything I've done, and second-hand quotes from teachers and students to support.  What if I could let students and teachers actually speak for themselves about the library's impact on the learning and teaching?

And have you noticed I've been blogging a lot about Keynote lately?  It is my passion-de-l'anne (thank you, Google translate!).   So I has this sudden brainstorm, as I was gathering data all week and really, really not wanting to write this thing:  What if I create the whole report as a "clickable" infographic in Keynote, with video of teachers and students talking about their research experiences.

So I did.  Or am doing.  Here's the first section.  You'll need Keynote to run it, and only the "lessons" button will work.  I'll try creating a Power Point version, but I'm not sure the graphics and links will convert well.  If it does, I'll post.

Feel free to view yourself, but please don't share it around, for obvious reasons.

FYI, I created the infographic sections in Pik-to-Chart, then captured screenshots to put on the slides.  You can see the actual infographic here (though I haven't finished the last two sections)
Sorry it's not embedded. There was something wrong with the HTML.

Here's the PP version.  The graphics are wonky, and it changed the transition on me, but it mostly works.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Modernize Your Summer Reading List!

I saw this on LM_Net today.  I've blogged before about the coolness of iBooks Author.  Here's a great library use:  Use it to create your summer reading lists, like this great example from the librarians at South Orange and Maplewood, NJ.

You can embed booktrailer videos,  Goodreads widgets, etc.  then host it on Bookry,  avoiding the "my kids don't have an iPad" dilemma.

I'm suspended...

Huh.  My Twitter account has been suspended for some reason. So bear with me while I sort that one out!

UPDATE:  I'm now reinstated and back in Twitter's good graces, but have lost all followers and following.  You'll need to "re-follow" me.  Very annoying.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Animating in Keynote

I'm putting together a four week Keynote Challenge the library is going to sponsor next fall, working through the IT and Film classes.  I've blogged before about how awesome I think Keynote is, and how under utilized.  Mike Sammartano's Keynote Classroom  YouTube Channel has some great examples of what Keynote can do.

Once the challenge is fully together, I'll post about it. In the meantime, I spent time today (never mind how much!) putting together this quick animation to show how teachers can use Keynote to demonstrate, for example, scientific principles. I still have a few timing kinks to work out, but you get the gist! Though it occurs to me I should add a little jingle to it.

You can download the file here if you want to see how it went together.
If you want to see something that will knock your socks off, watch this.  Entire story done in Keynote.  So add it to your digital storytelling toolbag!

UPDATE:  That blogger widget never seems to work. I uploaded to Youtube instead.

Unlikely (Jonah Ch. 1) from Robert Murphy on Vimeo.

Friday, May 3, 2013

My Camera: Sometimes, I Use It To Make Phone Calls.

I upgraded to an iPhone 4S last spring, and after a few months suddenly realized I was often taking better pictures using my phone than I was with my $800 Canon Rebel--without having to lug around pounds of lenses!  (If you want to see how amazing iPhonography can be, check this Flickr group).

Then I went to the ADE workshop, and Apple brought in Bill Frakes, one of Sports Illustrated's top photographers, to teach a workshop on iPhonography.  He didn't get much into the how's and wherefore's of taking photos with your phone camera, unfortunately, but we did get to see a lot of really cool shots and videos he took with just his phone.  Seriously impressive, high-quality stuff, and I realized I needed to get a lot more serious about my iPhone camera!

I even thought about replacing some of our library cameras with iPod Touches and Olloclip Lenses, until my (wise) library assistant pointed out that was just more parts for the kids to lose!

I can sometimes miss the obvious.

 But I may still order a couple sets of the lenses, along with the Glif tripod mount,  for people to check out to use with their own cameras.  I mean phones.

Thus, this is the first entry into a series of posts I'll do over the next month or so looking at various apps I'm finding very useful.  Because that's the power of the mobile camera--whether it's an iPhone or Android--you can shoot, process and share, all on one device.

As you can see from the photos,  I'm collecting quite a few photography apps, which is ironic from someone who has never managed to get her head around Photoshop. The one I'll look at today is a favorite: TrueHDR ($1.99).

The iPhone camera is basically a wide-angle (28mm) lens. That means when you're shooting long distance horizon shots (for example), you're going to lose a lot of definition. Enter True HDR.  Bill Frakes mentioned this is one of his go-to apps, and I'm impressed by the difference it makes. You use this instead of the built-in camera app; basically, it takes a series of 3 photos, which fills in much of the missed detail you would otherwise miss (see samples below).

As you would suspect, this means it doesn't work very well with anything that moves. You also need to have a steady hand, or the results can be blurry.

Here are two photos I took only seconds apart, the first with the camera app,  the second with TrueHDR.  The first one's OK, but you can see that there is more definition and tonal range in the second photo.

Once you take the shot and it processes it, it allows you to do some minor editing before saving. For only $1.99, well worth it!

Update:  BTW, I'm taking a fun Phoneography 101 course via Photojojo (it's only $5, and you get two quick photo lessons/assignments a week for a month).  And here's a tip I didn't know before:  You can use the volume up button on your phone to snap shots (it keeps your phone more steady than tapping the screen).  Moreover, you can do the same thing with the volume up button on your headset, using it as a cable.  How cool is that?

That's all I'll share from that. Come join me on the "course" and be my photobuddy!