Web 2.0 Interview

 I was asked to do an interview for a MLS student about Web 2.0 and here are my answers:

1.      What Web 2.o/participatory technology have you used with your students? 

Blog.  I helped a language arts teacher get set up with an edublogs account and have book discussions for their reading of Animal Farm.  She has a very low group of 10th graders who mostly failed 9th grade English and she wanted to get them motivated about the assignments.    Instead of answering questions on worksheets, they had to post answers in the blog and then respond twice to other students.  It took one class period to get everyone signed up.  Almost everyone posted, and the students were more engaged than they would be in a traditional class.    The assignment can be viewed here:  http://denisedare.edublogs.org/  The only drawback was that it was difficult to get time in the computer lab, and the amount of set up time.  Edublogs now has a way that teachers can set up whole classes with blogs.

Our AP Biology class has a blog:  http://apbiology.21classes.com/

Webquests:  I made a webquest for the computer applications class, which kept the students very engaged:  http://www.westernhs.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=47678&type=u&rn=2978500

2.      How many students are in your school and what is the technology level of the majority of your students? What is the level of excitement about Web 2.0 with your students?

a.      The high school has 2200 students. 

b.      Not all of our students have computers at home, so they are not very experienced with computers.  The biggest obstacle to implementing Web 2.0 is that there just aren’t enough computers on campus for many students to do projects on the computer.  The computer labs are being used all the time, and it is hard for teachers to get an extended amount of time with computers to do a project. 

c.       I can’t say the students are excited about Web 2.0.  When I have suggested to students in my clubs starting an online book discussion group, they felt like it was just another assignment and not something they would do for fun.  When web 2.0 is used for an assignment, they aren’t more excited, but they are more engaged.  However, it takes much more time to get through the content, since students are also learning to master a new skill.  This is one of the reasons why teachers are resistant. 

3.      What kind of technology training have you had and what got you interested in Web 2.0/participatory culture?

I take trainings whenever I can at the Orange County Department of Education.  I have taken classes in web design, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat, and using web 2.0 for professional learning communities. 

I really got interested in Web 2.0 when I participated in the CSLA SchoolLibraryLearning 2.0 online course:


Here’s my blogs:


http://mrsgtalksbooks.blogspot.com/ (this one was an idea I just couldn’t keep up with)

I created two because I wanted to test the different functionalities.  The one with edublogs is the one I ended up using because it is accessible at school.

4.      How has Web 2.0 enhanced your curriculum?

Open Source Software is amazing!  Students who don’t have Microsoft Office, which we use for everything, can download Open Office and have equal access to the documents we post on the website.  http://www.openoffice.org/

I love Cute.pdf writer.  I use it all the time to create .pdf documents.  http://www.cutepdf.com/Products/CutePDF/writer.asp


We subscribe to a web hosting service that has helped teachers do some amazing things with posting their assignments and documents online.  The site has an RSS feed, but I don’t’ think anyone knows how to use it.  Here’s a teacher doing amazing things:


Photos & Images: photo mashup sites and photo hosting services like Flickr are blocked at school.  I have used it professionally to share photos of my bulletin boards with other librarians.  I love to search library tags to see what other libraries are doing.  They even created a section for Banned Books Week.  Here’s my Flickr page:


Our website does have a place to host photos, I think the art teacher uses it, but not many others use it. 

RSS & Newsreaders:  Our school website has an RSS feeder, but I don’t think any of our students take advantage of the service.  I set up a google reader, but I never visit it.  It’s enough to read my e-mails everyday.  Maybe in the summer I’ll catch up. 

Del.ici.ous:  I love this service.  I use it to keep track of all the websites I want to remember or access later.  It is much better than keeping favorites on your computer because you can access it anywhere.  I also like it that you can search what other people have tagged on the same topic and see lots of good sites I wouldn’t have found otherwise.  I have heard of it being used to make an online syllabus for teaching, and also for students to use to keep track of websites during research.  I haven’t recommended it for students doing research because a lot of the sites that come up as tagged by others are blocked by the firewall (i.e. one of our health topics was date rape, and all these “how to” websites came up – I just couldn’t risk presenting the idea to the whole class.  Maybe if we were doing U.S. history or something.  That’s pretty safe).

Wikis:  I have used wikis professionally, but not quite yet with students.  Blogs work better for student work because you need to be able to keep track of who is posting and control the edits.  Also, on blogs, you can approve the posts before they go live to avoid inappropriate postings – and believe me, there’s always at least one student who tests. 

I belong to these wikis:





I use Google Books to keep track of what I am reading.  I also tried to do a book club with BookCrossing, www.bookcrossing.com but it just didn’t take off.  When I asked students about the idea of an online bookclub, they just thought it sounded like more work, and not something they wanted to spend their free time on.  Here’s the book club entries for A Series of Unfortunate Events:


Here’s my account at bookcrossing:


U Tube:  Is blocked at school, but sometimes I can find the same thing on Teacher Tube, which is great.  I have passed on some great videos to teachers, but I don’t know if they use them.

Podcasts:  We just aren’t ready for podcasts yet.  Not enough students have the technology.  I’ve recorded a podcast at a workshop, but it takes too much time to set up.  I don’t even listen to podcasts.  I think it is too boring without video. 

E-Books:  I tried to get teachers to use e-books with some of the core novels, but getting access to computers for our students is a problem.

See the core works online webpage:


Most would rather buy the copyright free works in paperback for $1 so students can  write in them. 

Avatars:  I love my avatars and my own children have fun with them too.  I use mine on all my Web 2.0 stuff and webpages.  I approached the art teacher about having the students create avatars, and she was interested, but that’s as far as it went.

5.      How have you addressed 21st Century standards for learners?

Every department  is so focused on their own standards, there really isn’t any room to focus on others.  I’m sure we’re touching on these standards, but I haven’t taken the time to document which ones we are addressing within the context of our lessons.   Our librarian’s group hasn’t taken the time yet to go over the document. 

I think Web 2.0 is ideal for

1.19 collaboration (wikis and blogs)

2.14 use technology to organize information

2.1.5 collaboration

3.1.2 collaboration

3.1.4 use technology to organize

3.2.2 contribute (blogs and wikis)

4.1.6 organize information and ideas

4.1.7 social networks (if only they’d unblock them!)

4.3.1 social exchange

I would like to mention that Ethical use of resources is a really big issue for our school right now.  We use turnitin.com to catch students plagiarizing, and even with the service and students know they will get caught, they still plagiarize.  Some of them just don’t get what plagiarism is.

6.      Have you collaborated with other teachers in your school for Web 2.0 activities?

Just the ones mentioned above.  Business is talking about creating a class that uses Web 2.0 and they came to me to help write the course description.  As teachers are ready, they come to me because they know I can get them started.  It is a slow process. 

7.      Has there been resistance to Web 2.0 among your teachers?

Yes.  Most are not ready.  Many do not post homework on the website or answer e-mails. Honestly, we don’t have enough computers for everyone to be doing Web 2.0.

Even among the library teachers, only 3(of 9) of us have taken courses in Web 2.0. 

My junior high just started a blog for discussion.  I’m not sure how it will be received.  We are using it now to discuss a possible change in dress code:


8.      Have you faced any obstacles with your administration?

Only just getting sites opened up on the firewall.  Fortunately, education is catching up and creating their own Web 2.0 sites that are “safe.”  The Edzone mentioned above is one.  They are supposed to add new Web 2.0 features this summer.  Funding is also an issue.  There just aren’t enough computers for all the classes. 

9.       Have you had any parent or community response to your Web 2.0 applications?

No.  Our parent involvement is very limited, except in booster organizations like band and football.  Our community doesn’t have much in the way of technology.  The most interaction I get is e-mail communications through the website.  Those that use technology heavily complain that not all of our teachers respond to e-mail or use the homework posting applications.

10. How does your use of Web 2.0 technology address information literacy standards?


Web 2.0 is great for

Standard 3:  Use information creatively

Standard 5:  Creative products

Standard 9:  collaboration

Week 9 #23, copyright

The video on copyright was very informative.  The Disney clips may make it appealing to students.  I found it also posted to Teacher Tube and sent it to some teachers at my school. 

I’m glad I watched the video on Creative Commons.  I have seen websites and photos with CC licensing, but didn’t understand what it meant until now.  It has brought up my awarness, and now I am noticing it a lot more on websites and photos online. 

The comic book was very detailed, and explained a lot I didn’t know about copyright.  I think I will recommend it to a teacher who is making a documentary on our new Arts Academy. 

The CTAP cite has some good resources.  I have bookmarked it in my del.ici.ous account for future reference.


1.  What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?

The most useful tool for me was del.ici.ous.  I use it everyday!  I have also found it useful to search other people’s tags when researching a specific topic.  I wasn’t able to use it with students, because some unsavory suggestions came up.  For example, one of the research topics was Date Rape, and several “how to” sites came up.

The wiki portion came just in time for me to use it to prepare for the CSLA conference in November.  I found the wiki to be a great collaborative tool.  There were so many great resources I would not have discovered if not for this tutorial.  I took me a year to complete, but it was definitely worth it.  Here’s my wiki:


Blog.  I helped a language arts teacher get set up with an edublogs account and have book discussions for their reading of Animal Farm.  She has a very low group of 10th graders who mostly failed 9th grade English and she wanted to get them motivated about the assignments.    Instead of answering questions on worksheets, they had to post answers in the blog and then respond twice to other students.  It took one class period to get everyone signed up.  Almost everyone posted, and the students were more engaged than they would be in a traditional class.    The assignment can be viewed here:  http://denisedare.edublogs.org/  The only drawback was that it was difficult to get time in the computer lab, and the amount of set up time.  Edublogs now has a way that teachers can set up whole classes with blogs.

Photos & Images: photo mashup sites and photo hosting services like Flickr are blocked at school.  I have used it professionally to share photos of my bulletin boards with other librarians.  I love to search library tags to see what other libraries are doing.  They even created a section for Banned Books Week.  Here’s my Flickr page:








2.  How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?

This experience really taught me what life-long learning is about.  Even though it was a lot of work and took me a year during nights and weekends, I kept at it without any other reward than the knowledge obtained.  It wasn’t for school credit or anything.  It was just for me. 

3.  Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

Definitely.  One of the ideas I posted in the Sandbox wiki ended up being a published article in CSLA Journal.

4.  What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?

Nothing!  Anything more would be overwhelming.

5.  If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate?

Yes, definitely!

6.  How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could use your words to promote CSLA learning activities?

I have a lot more in my “toolbox” so that when opportunities arise, I can say to teachers, why not try this?

Week 9, Thing 21 e-books and audiobooks

I love the IDEA of e-books.  Whenever I search the Library of Congress catalogs, I yearn for the library card that would give me access to all the e-books they have available.  Do congressmen really read all those YA books when preparing for their jobs?  What do you have to do to get a card for that place besides get elected?

I saw that my public library has some e-books, but I just couldn’t take staring at the computer screen long enough to finish a whole book.  I also have a few classics on my palm, but I’ve only got to page 56 of the Wizard of Oz while waiting for dental appointments and such.  I’ve seen the Amazon Kindle advertised and the Sony book reader and I know there are people who buy them.  It would be great if students could all be issued one textbook reader and carry all their textbooks in it.  If we can imagine it, it can happen.  Maybe someday??  I hear they are making $100 computers for 3rd world countries.  What about our kids?  $100 is cheaper than the $300 we spend per student on textbooks.  I really think there must be politics and moneymaking coming in the way of the levels of technology we need to use the Web 2.0 technologies in our schools. 

Again with technology being a barrier in the schools.  We just can’t have a whole class reading Romeo and Juliet online taking up valuable computer time when they can just buy the copyright free book for $1 and be able to write and take notes on it.

I posted all our core works that were available online to the school website:


Having all that copyright free material available for everyone is great for access.  Everyone thinks it is a cool idea, but nobody uses it. 

I like the idea of LibriVox.  It might be useful for our ELD and Special Education Students.  We often use audio books to help with special needs.  Too bad the one our students needed, Antigone, has not been produced yet.  It would be fun to do something like that, but I wonder how many students would access it?  I guess it would beat reading the stories aloud to all 6 sections of your classes each day.  Instead just hit play and grade papers?  (AARGH, the video teacher idea again)

Will this help students be more engaged in learning?

I did find the British Library’s books to be fascinating.  This isn’t just words on the page, but works of art.  The visual and audio combined make it a great resource.  I recommended it to my teachers, and hope they could use examples while teaching Medieval times, the renaissance, or musical composers like Mozart. 

Week 9, thing 21 Podcasting

Ok, I’ve had some experience with podcasting, and I just don’t see my school community catching on yet.  Our website hosting company has the capabilities of uploading podcasts through iTunes, but it took so long to set up an account, and required a credit card , that I just couldn’t see doing an all staff training and saying, be sure to bring your credit card!  I don’t think our students have credit cards, either.  I’ve seen some independent websites post podcasts directly on their website, so there must be a better way!

I subscribed to a few podcasts, but I am not an auditory learner, so it was difficult for me to concentrate.  I’d rather jump straight into video podcasting, which I think is really awesome!  Some of the booktalks and movie trailers I have seen online are really cool. 

I took an OCDE course in developing Professional Learning Communities online, and we made a simple podcast in the class.  I also attended Joy Millam’s workshop at CSLA on booktalks, which included podcasting using Audacity and some free online music sites.

I know that there is a HUGE potential in podcasting.  I read an article in a technology magazine about a private college that was giving ipods to the entire freshman class in an educaional study.  I am really curious to see how it turns out.  As for public schools, electronic devices are banned in classes, and not everyone has a PC, so I don’t see it becoming mainstream anytime soon. 

I can see how it can be really great for online learning, where students can see the “video teacher” from their home (are we becoming like Fahrenheit 451 I wonder?).  Could this backfire?  I saw a research study posted on CALIB that said a study of students who were given computers in a low cost computer program just ended up using them in place of TV for entertainment, and did not improve academically. 

Hey, I’m a librarian already, just give me a good book!

Week 9, thing 20

Explore video hosting sites like UTube. 

After a very lenghly lapse, I am returning to Week 9.  I got stuck here because I was dreading the podcasting portion.  Hopefully I can get these last 3 things done and be finished.

I can see why the school blocks these videos on UTube.  Although the Librarian’s manifesto has some noble ideas involving free spirit, the topless dancer had a bit too much “free spirit.”  Also, in the Ninja librarian, a rude cell phone user uses the “f ” word in conversation and then gets his neck broken.  Conan the Librarian cleaves an overdue patron in two.  There’s just too much stuff a student could accidently stumble across.

I loved “The Book” but had seen it previously from an e-mail.

I have found some fun and useful videos on Teacher Tube.  One of my favorites is the “One Semester of Spanish, Spanish Love Song.”  http://www.teachertube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=8e41d825d24714e85165  I can relate to it because after 4 years of Spanish, I can only say things like, “Me gusta la biblioteca.”  Someone sent me the link on UTube to watch at home, but I searched on Teacher Tube and luckily found it there, so I could pass it on to our Spanish Teachers.

While researching booktalks, I found some really good video booktalks out there.  A film school in Florida is making some awesome booktrailers.  Digital Booktalks from the University of Central Florida:


I feel so proud of myself for figuring out how to embed the video!

Week #8, Thing 19

Library Thing

I explored Libray Thing back during week 5.  I catalogued some books and added a widget.  I saw another school library using library thing to promote new books on their website, which was kind of cool, but we are locked in to a template on our school website.

Of course, Library Thing is blocked at school due to the “social networking” aspect.  I like bookcrossing, which has similar features, plus you can release books in to the wild and see if someone else picks it up and wants to comment on it. 

Week #8, Thing 18

Online Productivity Tools

I created a document in Zoho, but it had some kind of fatal error, and I had to quit out.  It did save my document, though.  That was nice.  Especially at school, we have so many Internet problems, I don’t think this would save me time.

I like the IDEA of these tools, but since we have the license for Microsoft Office, and all my documents are created there, I’m not ready to learn a new system and abandon the old.  I do think this is really cool for our students who can’t afford to buy MS office or other word processing tools.  I also like the ability to work on the same document at any location, especially since I work on multiple computers. 

It is kind of scary though, putting your documents in the hands, or should I say server, of someone else.  What if this .com goes bust and all your documents are lost?  I just don’t know if I could trust them.  What if they get bought out by another company and decide not to be free anymore and start charging a fee if you want to keep your documents (kind of like holding a hostage?).

I don’t see the advantage of posting the document as a blog post.  Why not just post to your blog?  Why the extra step of going through Zoho?

Anyway, I guess I’ve just read too  much futuristic fiction and start thinking about all the things that could happen from making so much stuff public.  All these people with blogs telling anyone who will listen what’s going on in their lives.  They’re already talking about college applications and future employers looking you up to see what’s on your myspace account.  What if some ultra-conservative government took over someday, and used the information against you?  This is just speculation.  I just finished reading Extras by Scott Westerfeld, and it takes place in a futuristic Japan where there economy is entirely based on a popularity system.  Whatever “face ranking” you have is determined by how many people watch your “feeds.”  It’s like the blogging community taken to the extreme.  It was an interesting concept.

P.S.  The curriculum connection example must have been written by a librarian (limit your book collection to 200 in the spreadsheet!).  In our community survey, most households had less than 20 books in them. 

Week #7, thing #17

Play in the Learning 2.0 Sandbox Wiki

I added item #50 in the wiki section:

#50  Get your English Language Arts Teachers in to the library for booktalks for a STANDARDS BASED booktalk using Genre as a theme See English Language Arts Standards:

Reading , 3.0 Literary Response and Analysis, Grade Seven Narrative Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text 3.4 Identify and analyze recurring themes across works (e.g., the value of bravery, loyalty, and friendship; the effects of loneliness).

All grade levels have a similar standard that can be adapted for this.  See Sample Genre Booktalk Lesson Plan.  Once students figure out what Genre they like, you can refer them to genre lists on the wiki (See the RIYL Wiki…Read if you like...)

 One thing I really hate about PB wiki is that when you cut and paste, it moves things around in weird places, and I have to figure out where they used to go to fix it.  This happened to me when I posted to the CSLA Wiki. 

I have learned SO much from wikis, and have expanded my two sessions from CSLA to include several pages.  I find Wikispaces to be straightforward, although there aren’t as many font options.

Week #7 Thing #16 Update

Well, I am picking up where I left off in the summer with week 7.  I was able to implement a lot of the first 7 week’s training so far this year.  I made my own wiki to post the sessions I presented at CSLA:

Exciting Genres by Tommy Kovac and Heather Gruenthal

CSLA 2007 (Ontario) Concurrent Session Description:

Build excitement for reading with genre-based book talks, creating an inviting table and environment for each topic. Be prepared for any reader’s advisory question with reproducible bibliographic genre bookmarks, including original artwork. Cater to all your students’ interests with a variety of topics, including “Pirates!” “Vampire Romance,” “Diversity,” “Novels for Manga-Lovers,” and “Sugar and Spikes.”

Bulletin Board Workshop: 

Why should elementary schools have all the fun? Advertise your collection with different themes each month using easy ideas that work for the upper grades. Catch-phrases like “Read the Movie,” (books with movie tie-in) “Don’t Read This!” (Banned Books Week) and “What’s your problem?” (Teen problem novels) get their attention. Innovative materials and resources cited.

I have also suggested that our English Department use a wiki to collaborate on their novel units. 

Week #7 Thing #16

I looked at all the wikis and found the teacherlibrarian wiki interesting:  http://teacherlibrarianwiki.pbwiki.com/

A teacher at my school shared a really good article at:  http://www.geeks.com/techtips/2007/techtips-16SEP07.htm

That explains how the Web 2.0 could be used in a classroom, including wikis as a great way to do group projects. 

I can see the possibilities, but I don’t know if our teachers or kids are ready.  Then there’s getting the district to unblock the sites.