Read and Be Free

A look at libraries, literature, technology and staying sane in an insane world.

WebQuest October 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — aimeethompson99 @ 8:42 PM

This is my first attempt at uploading my WebQuest file:  Teen Travel Guide WebQuest

*Update* Link isn’t working here, so the WebQuest outline is below:

Topic:  Foreign Language (Spanish)/Geography

Grades:  9-12

Title:  Teen Travel Guide

Collaborator:  Eva Tomecka, Old Orchard Beach High School Spanish Teacher

Teen Travel Guide

Subject: Foreign Language (Spanish)/Geography Grades 9-12
Professor: Aimee Thompson/Eva Tomecka

Introduction:    Vamos de Vacaciones! You are going on a getaway excursion to a foreign country. You will be using online resources to research your choice of a Spanish-speaking country and will combine the information into a travel brochure to share with the class.

Task:    What country do you feel is the most student-friendly and exciting Spanish-speaking country to visit? Prove your point by highlighting the most important points of interest about your country, the most student-friendly accommodations and the most varied and exciting sight-seeing opportunities in your country.

Process:    You will research a number of online resources to plan a 7-day excursion to a Spanish-speaking country of your choice. You may focus on one or two cities, or a particular region of your country. You need to have your country approved by your teacher and you may not do the same country as someone else in the class.  You will spend 15-20 minutes using WikiTravel or Wikipedia to do some pre-searching.  Look for things about a country that are interesting to you.  Based on your pre-search, you will decide on a country.  You will research possible airlines, hotels, daytrips, restaurants, historical sites, culture sites, outdoor adventures and more. Your brochure must include: Map–Label at least 10 landmarks on your map; you may cut and paste a map or draw it by hand. Cultural Information–List at least 10 pieces of cultural information or interesting facts a student traveler should know about the country before visiting. Historical Facts–List at least 10 noteworthy historical events in the country’s history. Itinerary–Include a trip itinerary for 7 days, giving specific details as to what the traveler will be doing each day; include airline used, which hotel the traveler will stay in, where meals will be eaten, what tours will be taken, and what sights will be seen. Please include the cost of your trip in your brochure.

Resources: Use the Rollyo list of travel/geography websites for your research:

You may also use the library’s online subscription database, CultureGrams. For your itinerary, you may use or A separate list of citations is required. You will submit a list of any resources and websites you use (articles, photos, maps, etc.) in MLA format.
Atlapedia: Key Facts and Statistics on Countries Around the World
CIA–The World Factbook

Country Reports: Cultural and Historical Facts
Geography Facts and Statistics
Lonely Planet Travel Guides and Travel Information

National Geographic–Travel and Geography
Portals to the World–Electronic Links to Information on Countries Around the World
Trek Earth–Photography and Culture Around the World
Travel Guide
World Travel Guide

Evaluation:  Your brochure will be graded based on the rubric you will be given. Requirements: Map–15 points possible. Cultural Information–20 points possible. Historical Information–20 points possible. Itinerary–30 points possible. Resources (in MLA format)–5 points possible. Neatness and Creativity–10 points possible.

Conclusion:  You will do a self-evaluation of your brochure on the day of your presentation. After looking at other students’ trips, how would you change yours? You will also present your travel guide to the class and will survey your fellow classmates and teachers as to their opinion of your travel tips and the information you provide. At the conclusion of all presentations, the class will vote on the most interesting, exciting, and student-friendly trip. The winning trip will be highlighted at the International Club’s meeting.


Week 8 #19 Library Thing October 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — aimeethompson99 @ 8:09 PM

Library Thing…wow.  I was totally in the dark about Library Thing.  I spent some time exploring and looking for books to use for my WebQuest.  I also spent a good half hour trying to include Library Thing as a widget on my blog.  See the sidebar for the link.  MyLibraryThing List.

I’ve been using LibraryThing over the weekend to help a colleague in the English Department find recommendations for a genre reading project.  I’ve been looking up books that fall into certain Lexile ranges and so far, LibraryThing has been incredibly useful for finding books that meet certain criteria.  I’ve also added books in another category (besides the list for my WebQuest).  This is a list of possible book discussion group books for high school girls.

You can see my lists here.  The books under “Your Library” are the titles related to my WebQuest: Teen Travel Guide.  I included a selection of travel guides/trip planners for Spanish-speaking countries as well as CultureGrams which can be useful for statistics, historical information, and daily life information for countries around the world.

*NOTE*  To see my list of titles that are relevant to my WebQuest, you can access it from the pull-down menu under “your library.”


Week 8 #18 Online Productivity Tools

Filed under: Uncategorized — aimeethompson99 @ 7:20 PM

I am already an avid user of Google Docs.  I’ve been giving my high school students tutorials for Google Docs for the last few weeks.  We are trialing the sharing features.  I’m hoping that the English Department faculty will jump on board with Google Docs to eliminate a lot of organizational stress and mayhem that happens every quarter because students lose or misplace drafts, can’t open documents, etc.  Hard copies of everything is incredibly wasteful, so I’m using the “Go Green” platform as another positive attribute of online word processing.

I decided to try out Zoho Writer and compare some of the features with Google Docs.  I liked the toolbar, features, and general layout of Zoho Writer.  I still had some trouble formatting the header in MLA format, with my last name and page number on the right hand margin of the header.  This is also an issue with Google Docs, so at least they are consistent!

The export to blog feature caused me some difficulty.  My Mac kept freezing up when I tried to export to WordPress.  One of those time consuming troubleshoots that I haven’t pursued…yet!


I’m planning to have a group of Seniors do a comparison between Google Docs and Zoho Writer.  I think it is incredibly useful for students to troubleshoot Web 2.0 tools themselves and to really get a sense of how a tool can be used, the pros and cons, and the how these tools can make organization, storage, and retrieval of documents more user-friendly.  This will also be a helpful exercise for me as well because I’ll be walking the students through the basics, but we’ll be learning the details together…and students are incredibly helpful in finding the kinks!


Week 7 #17 Wiki–Curriculum Connection October 17, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — aimeethompson99 @ 2:46 PM

After spending some time in the “sandbox” @ Classroom Learning 2.0’s wiki, I reviewed some examples of teacher/educator related wikis.  The Language Link Wiki had some great resources including:

“Grant Writing”

  • Tips, formats, outlines
  • How to develop a grant
  • Potential grant opportunities (technology, K-12, Gov’t, etc.)

There were great resources under “Lesson Planning Templates” as well:

  • Planning an 80 minute block lesson
  • Language/Literacy lesson planning
  • Templates for a variety of grade levels and content areas

I enjoyed seeing how teachers are able to log in to this wiki and see each other’s work, see how each is using resources and sharing the best of their tips and techniques.  Wikis are great resources for librarians.  Since I work with 7 other librarians in my district, it would be great to use a wiki for generating tips, lessons, and curriculum that we use in our K-12 libraries.  This way, all of us could contribute and see what is happening across the grade levels.


Week 7 #16 Wikis October 14, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — aimeethompson99 @ 3:57 PM

I like to spend time with a wiki.  I like to get familiar with a wiki’s layout, format, content, and table of contents.  Even though the templates to design a wiki are pretty straightforward, there are some formats that just look better on the screen.  The wiki examples through Classroom Learning 2.0’s blog provided examples from Media Wiki  and PB wiki.  I liked the layout of the Media Wiki pages better.  They looked and navigated a lot like Wikipedia.  I tend to like the familiar.

I think wikis are great tools for educators.  They lend themselves superbly for both faculty and student collaboration.  For faculty, the ability to use wikis to coordinate presentations, events, group work, and professional development is tremendous asset.  What I find interesting though, is that even with this great application (wikis), many of my colleagues continue to go “old school” when it comes to putting information together.  For example, for a shared professional development task that incorporates several faculty members from different departments, each person does his/her share in an “old school” manner (takes notes, writes out information paper, stores documents in file folders, or stores documents on e-mail) and then, one technical member of the group puts everything that was on paper into a wiki.  But usually the format and content of the information is identical to what is one paper.  The wikis tend to be very “wordy,” and “stuffy,” and don’t always look as polished as they could.  My goal is to help my fellow colleagues make wikis more alive.  More energetic.  I encourage continual participation (so I often suggest wikis for projects that are on-going).  I like to include bullets, links, easy to read tables of content, and streamlined paragraphs.

For students, wikis are a great opportunity to learn some important collaborative skills, creative and critical skills all at the same time.  I could see wikis used for most collaborative work at the high school level.

I haven’t found a free wiki template yet that is super easy to use in terms of uploading graphics.  And yes, wikis tend to be text-rich and text-focused and there are other applications that are more graphic friendly, but several of my students have made comments that wikis don’t have the “punch” of iMovie or PowerPoints because there are fewer graphics.  Hmmmm……


Week 6 #15 Creative Commons October 10, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — aimeethompson99 @ 2:35 PM

Creative Commons provides links to a variety of useful sites, especially for educators looking to keep copyright and fair use policies in check.  When teachers have asked me for resources, whether it is clip art, web sites, speeches, etc., I’m always looking for electronic resources that are current, accurate, easily accessible, and fair-use acceptable.  This is sometimes a tall order.

I did some searching through Creative Commons for sites and resources on social networking and social networking etiquette or “netiquette.”  There are blogs, videos, and articles that talk about staying safe online, using social networking sites appropriately in a school setting, general etiquette information about e-mail, YouTube, MySpace, and cyberbullying as well as sites for parents and educators.

A few highlights: (found via Creative Commons, search phrase “social networking netiquette”

Christ Brogan’s blog post about “How Not to Be a Jerk in Facebook.”

The Barking Robot’s blog post on “Social Networking Safety Tips for Parents and Educators.”

A site from the ALA: Social Networking and DOPA by the American Library Association
• An overview of social networking, including positive uses for education

I am aware of the number of “in plain English” videos that Common Craft has available.  I’ve shown students a CC (Common Craft) video on Google Docs, and wikis, and am currently on the lookout for more.  Check out this video clip on Social Networking.


Week 6 #14 Technorati October 5, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — aimeethompson99 @ 8:43 PM

I spent some time browsing Technorati.  I started with searching blogs with tags “library 2.0,” “school library 2.0,” “web 2.0” and found different results with each search.  I find Technorati to be a very “busy” site to view and it takes me a while to comprehend everything I’m seeing.  I did browse blogs with the tag “web 2.0” and spent some time reviewing the Mashable blog.  There were many interesting tidbits of web 2.0 information.  I added it to my RSS feed. The first article I read from Mashable was about how the Internet addiction may be labeled as a chronic childhood disease  Hmmm, go figure.

Oh, for about 5 more hours in the day, and I would be up to date with keeping track of all the stuff I have coming in through RSS.

BTW…there is a beautiful harvest moon tonight.