Friday, July 18, 2008
Monday, 7/7: Westminster Abbey was amazing, as usual. Been there twice before, but it always touches my heart. Shakespeare's Henry V is one of my favorites, and I am in awe standing before Henry's actual burial place. From there we went to the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms, where one can learn about one of the most interesting political figures of our time. The more I learn about WWII, the more I respect those who fought it, both on the field and on the homefront. The war rooms are pretty cool - all underground rooms where the war was planned, and lots of people lived and carried out day-to-day operations. We planned on going from there to the British Museum, but decided instead to go back to our B&B, change into nice clothes, and head back over to Westminster Abbey to hear an Evensong service. Boy, were we glad we did! This is an actual church service held in the Abbey after closing time. Visitors are welcome, but only allowed if they are partcipating in the service. It is mostly sung and the choir was AMAZING. We sat there listening to the angelic music, and I marvelled that I was sitting only a few feet from the altar where every coronation since 1066 has taken place. Then BOOM! Thunder clapped and the abbey echoed the roar. It was so dramatic - to be in that glorious place, hearing that music, the thunder crashing, and being in the "company" of all those people who shaped history. I looked over at the rest of our little group and noticed that I wasn't the only one with leaky eyes! The Abbey Evensong service was one of our many highlights of the trip. I hope I never forget that feeling.
Rainy and yucky, but an incredible day!
Tuesday, 7/8: Since we all are HUGE Austen and Pride & Prejudice film fans (the Keira Knightly version), we had to make a pilgrimage to Chatsworth House (we just called it "Pemberley"!). The grounds were absolutely gorgeous, and Kelli kept inquiring how she could live there. I tried to explain that it was kinda impossible, but she was determined. Then I showed her a sign about how one could "Become a Friend of Chatsworth House" and she was so excited! Until I told her that all that meant was she had the privilege of donating money...
We roamed, and roamed, and roamed, and couldn't get enough. The girls (Kelli, Sydney, and Laura) struck poses all over, and asked aloud, "Where are you, Mr. Darcy???!!!" We hiked up and around the big rock garden and the enormous fountain, and after touring the inside of the house we all agreed that we liked the outside best. The inside was pretty incredible, though! We saw all the places from the movie and it was just sublime. Ashley even had the theme music from the movie on her ipod and listened to it while we strolled the grounds! She looked pretty much like she was in heaven. Then we returned to our B&B and watched the movie until we had to sleep. The only day so far that the weather has been good! The planets were aligned for us to enjoy Pemberley!!
Wed. 7/9: Rainy and creepy to be at the Tower! Really gray and yucky. This is summer? But for me the Tower is always alive with dead people. I am in the middle of The Lady in the Tower a book about unfortunate social climber Anne Boleyn, so the Tower had special meaning for me this time. Poor Anne was beheaded on the Tower green, and, like all others who lost their heads there, her head was put on a pike at the edge of the river Thames for the birds to devour. The fleshless skulls then fell into the river. Her headless body was buried (eventually) in the tower chapel. Again I felt that strange feeling of being in a place where history was made, and only a few yards from someone who changed history. OK, so there's probably not much left of her in this dank environment, but you know what I mean! And, of course, others are there but Anne is foremost in my mind since I am reading about her.
The Globe theater was pretty interesting. We went to the Exhibition where many artifacts are on display - original Elizabethan costumes and fabric catching my particular attention. How are they still existing? Why are they not just powder???? We also had a guided walking tour to the actual site of the original Rose theatre. It is underneath an existing office building and is nothing more than a huge puddle with submerged lights outlining the arrangement of the stage and seating areas of the theatre. The story is that during the initial construction of the office building (in the late 1980's, I think) they discovered somehow that it was right on the original site of the Rose Theatre. Well, the acting community got all outraged and wanted the area preserved. The developers wanted their office building. So a compromised was reached: they would build the building with a raised foundation, and allow small tours to come in and view the underground area. One of the other things I learned from this tour is what "bear baiting" was and how it was a very popular attraction in Elizabethan times. They would put a bear in a ring and send out dogs to attack it. People would wager on the outcome. Sorta like cock fighting only with BEARS! Nice, huh?
Only a few of us Dickens fans went to the Dickens house (Me, Carrie, Lisa, Joleen, Sydney) but it was lovely. He's one of my favorites, warts and all, and I enjoyed seeing where he lived and learning more about him.
In the evening, it was SPAMALOT! Great fun, and educational too!!!!
(Funny how much the area around the Shaftesbury Theatre resembles the area around our very own Pantages. Without the sausage sellers, of course...)
And speaking of sausage - what are they thinking with the sausages here? Mealy, tasteless, and HUGE! And the English breakfast is so wacky. But the B&B we stayed at in London (The Arran House) was great because it was buffet-style. They just put out all that nasty stuff, and we could choose our destinies. The eggs are OK and there's tea, cereal, fruit, tea, juice, tea, tea, tea, and best of all TOAST!!! We have never eaten so much toast in all our lives! I don't know what it is about this trip (could be that everything else is crap), but we are toast FIENDS! I never eat toast for breakfast, but I swear, I have about three pieces every morning! And I've discovered black currant jam - mighty fine. The Arran was great for breakfast because of the flexibility of choice. The bathroom was another thing. I never seen, or anticipated possible, a bathroom so miniscule. I had to go out to turn around. It was a closet converted to a bathroom. You even had to step up into it. Good thing Dave wasn't there, because my knees almost touched the door when "sitting" - at six feet one, he wouldn't have been able to close the door at all. My cat's box is bigger than this bathroom was. And did I mention that it was SMALL????
Thursday, July 10: Jane Austen's house in Chawton was so special. Learned so much about her -fascinating person. And to be where she lived the last 8 years of her life - to see the view from her rooms, her garden, etc. was very moving. We then went to Winchester Cathedral to see her grave. A beautiful place, and her grave had fresh flowers on it, which we all thought appropriate for such a special lady. Then went on to Bath.
We stayed at the Henry in Bath, and it was exquisite! Our hosts, Steve & Liz, were so gracious and helpful and the rooms were fabulous! Clean, stylish, comfy, and a REAL bathroom! Bath was a lovely and interesting city. I remarked that Bath is the Calabasas of England! Very swanky and kinda snobbish (sorry all you Calabasas-ites!) Oh, and expensive! Jane Austen felt that way, too. Don't think she used the actual word "Calabasas", though. But the ancient Roman baths were very interesting, and I thought how strange it is to have these Roman ruins in the middle of a stylish town like Bath. Austen lived here, too, and we visited the Jane Austen Centre. Sadly, her family really couldn't afford Bath and it was not a happy time for Jane. We visited the "Circus" - a semi-circle of fancy attached homes referenced in some of her books and I thought it looked like a facade or movie set. Just didn't look real to me!
Breakfast at the Henry was great - the sausages were from a local butcher and were more like what we are used to. And the TOAST - sixteen thumbs up! it was a wonderful grainy, nutty bread with actual FLAVOR!
Well, it's almost midnight and we are currently in Windsor. I'll try to write more tomorrow and get all caught up. I'm doing this more for myself than the blog, actually. So I'll remember what we did, how I felt, etc. I'm on Ashley's computer so I don't have access to my regular journal.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
We've been having an incredible time - the time of our lives, really! Not much jet lag, so that's a blessing. But we are exhausted at the end of each day, because we are cramming so much in!
Sunday after arriving and meeting up with our group, we were able to pop over to Harrods (WAY crowded, since they are having one of their only 2 sales per year) and gawk. What an amazing place - but really, once you've seen a mall in the valley, you've seen 'em all! Then we tubed over to Buckingham Palace where Carrie and I chatted casually with a guard with a big gun! Hey - we needed restaurant recommendations! He told us that he wouldn't be much help, since couldn't afford to eat around here. Then he told us about a place ("Bumbles" no less) that once we got there was closed. So we ended up at a burger place that was kinda weird but we knew the food was bad in England, so we just sucked it up! Sydney and I took a bite of our burgers and kinda looked at each other like, "Does this taste right?" Then Kelli said something like, "We knew about this going into it..." and that has been one of the catch-phrases of the trip. Like yesterday when Carrie was asked if she would like sweet pickle on her sandwich and ended up with a plain cucumber slice. "We knew going into this!!" And on that note, I am going downstairs to eat another traditional English breakfast of mealy sausage, bacon that is really ham, pretty good eggs (if you like them runny), and mushrooms. I REFUSE to eat the beans, though. One has standards, even on vacation.
Today: THE TOWER! globe Theatre, Dickens Museum and if time, St. Paul's Cathedral (where I know we will all break into "Early each day, on the steps of St. Paul's, the little old bird woman comes...") Then tonight is SPAMALOT!!!
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
We are going to offer the Web 2.0 for teachers to the district, and I've offered to be a cheerleader. I look forward to seeing how the teachers use the tools, and the blogs they create.
I'm wondering what I do with my blog now that it's over. I'd like to link it to my library web site and start all over with a library blog - student book reviews, suggestions, etc. The kids don't need to see all my Web 2.0 posts, so maybe I'll delete them and start fresh. I'd also like to fine-tune some of the page elements so it's more attractive and user-friendly.
Thanks ever so much for this program! What a kick it's been! Glad I finished just in time!!
I don't know if I embedded the "twilight" video correctly. Web 2.0 directions mention using an "embeddable player" but I couldn't find it on YouTube or in Blogger. I guess I'm a little confused about how to do it correctly. But I was able to post a link.
YouTube is so incredible - I am amazed at the breadth of what's out there.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
I really like the idea of using these web tools to manage docs, pictures, etc. so that you can get to them from anywhere (provided you remember the usernames, etc!!). Many are the times I've been frustrated at work because something I needed was on a computer at home. I do wonder about the security of it, though. Can't hackers get in to my photos or documents and do malicious things? Maybe I'm just paranoid...
Is there any way to monitor posts to a Wiki like you can with a blog? I like the free-form style of the Wiki as opposed to the "post a comment" structure of the blog, but am deterred from using it for my library because of the lack of control. I also surfed around the California Curriculum CSLA 2.0 portion of the wiki. It reminded me that there are even more things I want to try with web 2.0.
Also, I watched the Common Craft video on Wikis and it was the easiest and clearest explanation I've seen.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
As a librarian, I always feel pulled in two different directions. One points toward the technology aspect of a library, and the other toward the love of reading aspect. Sometimes I think they are two things fighting against each other. Studies show that kids who spend lots of time in front of screens (be they computer or television) read less for pleasure. Yet as a librarian, I'm expected to provide lots of screens and unrestricted (at least time-wise) access to them. I'm also expected to instill in my students a love of that most un-technological of diversions - reading books.
I've discovered that my students are what I call "keystroke smart" - they can download videos and music, navigate the web, email, create with Photoshop, muck around with the settings on my computers, etc. The problem is that they have no critical thinking skills! So when these computer whiz kids have to do research, their brains can't formulate the proper questions to ask the computer in order for them to they get what they need. So we had a teacher who asked them, "Tell me what you might find in Betsey Ross' basement." So what do they do? They go to google and type in "What would I find in Betsey Ross' basement?" And they actually think they will get an itemized list! I've been saying for a long time, "They have the computer skills - We need to teach research skills!!"
I read several of the articles listed for this "Thing," and found them most interesting. They challenged my current mindset. Rick Anderson stated, "We need to focus our efforts not on teaching research skills but on eliminating the barriers that exist between patrons and the information they need, so they can spend as little time as possible wrestling with lousy search interfaces and as much time as possible actually reading and learning." But in my experience, the biggest barrier between a middle schooler and information is his BRAIN! The best search engine in the world isn't going to answer that ridiculous question about Betsey Ross!
I did agree with John Reimer, though, when he stated that libraries should be more open to including patron reviews, tags, and other user participation, in the services libraries make available. My motto is, "You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many subject headings!"
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
So, this assignment was about exploring Technorati. I did, and all the while was thinking, "Why would I -or anyone else, for that matter - care how I rate on Technorati? Why do I need to have my blog accessible to SO MANY people? Is anything I say on my blog THAT important? Do I really need yet ANOTHER username and password?? Who ARE all these people, why do they feel the need to spill their guts on the internet, and do I have NOTHING better to do than read their ramblings???" So although I understood the purpose of Technorati, I think Delicious suits my needs for now, and I declined to subscribe to Technorati at this time. If some poor librarian in Pigsknuckle, Arkansas can't get to my blog, oh well!
My daughters - 24, 21, and 17 - use facebook, etc. to keep up with friends. They'd rather sit silently in front of a screen and read their friends' postings than pick up a phone and have an intimate, two-way conversation! Some of these people they never actually speak with. Do they feel a close bond with someone they only read about, never talk to??? How can you? And if spending that much time reading a blog doesn't bring you closer, why in the world do it? One of my girls told me today that one of MY friends (I'm 44) has a facebook page, and my first thought was "Grow up! Why does she think anyone CARES?" I mean, of course I care about her as a person, but I care enough to learn about her and become close to her by spending time with her, conversing, getting to know her family, etc. not reading about her online as if she was Paris Hilton or something. I guess I just would never presume that my life is important or interesting enough that I would expect others to spend their precious time on earth reading about my fabulosity (yes, I made up that word, but it fits).
Of course, the ironic thing about this is that I am expecting you, dear cheerleader, to spend YOUR precious time reading MY screed! So enough, already! On to "Thing 15"! (But I very much would like to hear your opinions on these topics)
Monday, April 21, 2008
Thanks, Becca, for replying to my email! OK - here we go:
Del.icio.us - I watched the tutorial linked in the "23 Things" list. It was helpful, but not nearly as interesting as another one I found on Youtube. It is the "In Plain English" videos by CommonCraft.com (http://commoncraft.com/show). This really made social bookmarking understandable for me (probably because they are written on about a third-grade level!).
I surfed around Delicious, and found it overwhelming. SO MUCH STUFF! But I set up an account in hopes of creating a cool link list.
I Clicked on many of the Delicious links and have spent about 2 hours boppin' around. One click takes you to another, which takes you to another and before you know it you're about 20 pages from where you started! I really just looked at the ones that had the most visitors. Figured that anything that had 437 people save it has got to be worth a look. I can see how this would be useful to students doing research, or even just looking for something fun. I looked at some of the other CSLA members' sites and found some of their delicious links useful - so I stole them and put them on my Delicious site! I guess theft is the "social" part of "social bookmarking"!
Just realized that I haven't posted my Delicious link to the blog - I'll try to figure that out!
Sunday, April 20, 2008
For example, I found "Library Thing" on another blog, and The Shakespeare Insult Generator I saw on someone else's computer.
Surfing around other people's blogs makes me feel pretty insecure. There is so much out there. I spent some time last week with our district tech teacher and she helped me get set up with Moodle. So now I have a moodle account, and am not entirely sure how to best utilize it for the library. I have user names and passwords for dozens of sites, and even another blog floating around out there in cyberspace (I didn't like the way it was laid out, so I just ignored it. I have no idea how to delete it). My point is, with technology too much of a good thing gets crazy. I need a lot more practice to keep it all sorted out.
This assignment also included learning about Rollyo. I had a hard time trying to decipher exactly what the advantage was of Rollyo. Not many of the other Web 2.0 sites have Rollyo. I guess it might be something I could use for the Renaissance Fair - a custom search engine just for all things Renaissance. But I'm just not sold on Rollyo yet. It seems like technlogy overload.
I know that using these tools (and technology in general) will become more second-nature the more I immerse myself in it - just look at all the kids out there who are so techno-saavy. But they spend HOURS marinating in technology, and I really have no desire to spend that much time staring at a screen.
OK back to my assignment: I added a few links to some library-related sites, and some news-related feeds. I also managed to get the online image generator to work. I did EXACTLY what I did before, but this time it worked. Why does that happen with technical stuff????
Also, I attended the CSLA Southern Section workshop at Taft High and was all gung-ho about setting up a Google calendar for the library. But once I got into it - and spent tons of time on it- I realized I don't like the layout of the Google calendar. I wanted to try to post it to my blog, but as you can see I can't figure out how to configure it to fit on the blog properly. I'll keep trying. I tried to post it only in the weekly format, but it didn't work.
The more I do, the more confidence I gain. So I guess I should keep going!
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
As I posted earlier, I am having such fun with the Flickr toys. Made a cute movie poster, but didn't post it. I want to do another though, so stay tuned!
I had some trouble today because I tried to post my kitty poster on the right side of the page (as a page element, not as a post because I wanted it to be permanent like my Avatar) but the text was too small to read, and the picture was fuzzy. So then I thought, "Why does my blog template have so much unusable margin space? There's got to be a way to use more of the margins, so I can put in bigger pictures, or maybe even add a third column." That was almost the beginning of the end! I found a link to a "blog for dummies" site, and it showed me how to get into the html and fiddle with the margins. I learned just enough to get myself in trouble. I could make the body margins much wider, but could never get the right side (I know there's a tech term for that!) to be any wider. So I gave up before I did any permanent damage. Going into it, I naively thought that I could somehow just click and drag with the mouse to increase the margins! But I learned a lot along the way, and may still attempt a third column when I'm more confident. Thanks, "cheerleaders", for your encouraging posts!
I was wondering what the fuss was about Flickr and now I know - it's the TOYS!
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Boy, did I have trouble with this! I created the avatar, which was pretty easy, but then couldn't get it to upload to my blog site. That's one of the reasons I switched sites from Wordpress and created a new blog in Blogger. I think Wordpress is for business applications and is not as intuitive as I need (being a beginner). Once I switched to Blogger, it was much easier. One of my larger problems, of course is that I simply cannot remember all the passwords and user ID's!!!! And I fear writing it all down, because some Russian spy might find them and hack into all my stuff!!
Week 1, Thing 2: 7 1/2 Habits of Successful Life-long Learners
**There was no “Thing 1″ listed, so I assume it is just to read about and commit to the Web 2.0 program. Which I have done!**
Of the seven habits, #4 is the toughest for me: “Have confidence in yourself as a competent, effective learner.” I didn’t graduate college until I was 34 (married young and had kids right away), so I’ve always felt “behind” when it comes to learning. Also, retention is difficult for me so I struggle with remembering what I’ve been taught. Ironically, it is because of this that I think the easiest “habit” for me would be #2: “Accept responsibility for your own learning.” It seems the older I get, the less I care what others think about me. I’m not afraid to ask for help, or admit I don’t know something.