Dressing Up Destiny

This post is based on an article published in the South Carolina Association of School Librarians’ Media Center Messenger (Volume XLVIII, Issue 4).

My school district upgraded our library catalogs to Follett’s Destiny over the summer of 2010 and provided training to the school librarians in August.  I was disappointed that the training provided little  information on creating a Destiny home page.  As I usually do, if the professional development I need is not provided by my district, I went in search of information to meet my needs.

I began combing the Internet to find great examples of Destiny home pages, and serendipitously stumbled across Alicia Vandenbroek’s Destiny home page.  Not only was her home page not just a list of links, it was colorful and animated.  How did she do that?


The answer:  www.wix.com.  Alicia discovered this awesome free web site creator that allows web pages to be embedded into other sites – including Destiny!  Not only has she created an inviting home page for her school catalog, but she has also shared detailed directions that all school librarians can use to dress up their Destiny home page.

Using her directions, I created our Destiny home page as seen in the screenshot above.  Wix offers many options, but one that I love is the Mini Page option.  Using this option, you can create hyperlinked sections to be displayed on your home page. I created three:  Library Info, Recommended Reading, and Book Trailers.

In the screenshot below, you’ll see that the left column of our home page has changed to the Recommended Reading Mini Page where I have inserted hyperlinks and a book trailer. (Disappointing news at this point for my school district:  the embedded YouTube book trailers played perfectly for the first week or so, but the district once again blocked YouTube so I am currently looking for other options, including a Vimeo player that can be embedded into Wix.)

The third Mini Page I created is solely for book trailers:

Our new Destiny home page is colorful and informative.  At this point, Destiny is only on our district’s Intranet so we still use our library web page as our Internet home page on library computers, providing access to more research oriented links.  Although you cannot visit our page on the Internet, you can find Alicia Vandenbroek’s and her detailed directions for dressing up your own Destiny home page!

Shack Stacks, Shackelford Junior High’s Library Wiki:  http://shackstacks.wikispaces.com/Find+a+Book

“Wix and Destiny” found on the Librarian’s Lounge page of the above wiki:


(The “Wix and Destiny” directions are the fifth embedded document on the page.)

Going Gaa-Gaa for Google

It is no secret to those who know me:  I am a Google fan.  Google offers great (FREE) tools that have simplified my life and allowed me to accomplish more  – efficiently and effectively.  Some Google services I use:

Google’s Educational Uses

For those educators who are still not sold on Google, here are some links that either offer more information for educators, or give examples of educators’ use of Google for their students.


Google Search Options

Google Docs


Make Word Mosaic

Earlier this week, someone requested a link to a concrete poetry making site on the SCASL (South Carolina Association of School Librarians) listserv.

Today as I was reading and tweaking my Google Reader, I came across a new tool through Jane’s E-Learning Pick of the Day that looks very promising: ImageChef‘s Make Word Mosaic.

ImageChef’s simple description: “Write a comment or poem in the shape of hearts or other symbols.
Send a greeting or post to MySpace or your blog.”

After you have chosen your symbol and typed in the text you wish to include, click on the heart symbol to the right of the text box and you can add a variety of symbols to your word mosaic. In the example below, I added musical notes, envelopes, stars, and people to the mosaic.

Another Free Digital Storytelling Tool for Teachers

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Garden
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox slideshow

Smilebox offers free Club Smilebox accounts for educators (normally costing $39.99 annually).  This tool is perfect for educators who want to create and post a scrapbook slideshow in just moments.

Club Smilebox also allows you to create animated photobooks, email cards,  and postcards to share with others.  You’ll find over 850 design templates from which to choose.  Creating one is as simple as choosing a design, importing photos from your computer, and then arranging the photos by simply clicking and dragging them onto slides.  Want to share your creation online?  It’s as simple as clicking on “share” and either copying and pasting embedding code or signing into an account like Facebook and letting Smilebox post your slideshow.

Sign up for your free account here.

(I first wrote about this tool here.  After playing with it again this morning, I felt that it was worth a repost due to its ease of use.)

Save the Words!

save the words  certificate of adoption

The English language is growing by leaps and bounds with new words entering our vocabulary daily.  Unfortunately, some existing words are used less frequently (or not at all) because of this.

Enter SavetheWords.org.  Visit this site and words bordering on extinction will literally call out to you. Click on any word to see its definition and its use in a sentence.

Sign up for a free account and save a word (or two or three).  I am now the proud parent of “pudify.”  Because I am often pudified when I stick my foot in my mouth, I decided to rescue this word.

I hope that my readers (all three of you) will step up to the plate and rescue a word from extinction.  Otherwise, I will be pudified that my attempt to bring light to this worthy cause failed.

I wish to thank “A Library by Any Other Name” for posting information on this site.

Another Po Folk* Resource

I found an interesting post  from Bright Ideas in my Google Reader this morning on Teacher’s TV.  The site is operated by Education Digital, an independent media consortium in London.  The site offers thousands of educational programs both online and on tv.

Since this is National Poetry Month, I thought I would focus on the resources the site offered on poetry.  One video, Resource Review -Secondary English, discussed three online resources and how they were used in the classrooom. One interesting one that was new to me is the BBC’s GCSE Bitesize – English – Poetry Slideshow.   


Although the concept of creating a slideshow with images to accompany the reading of a poem is not new, I found the teachers’ discussion to be interesting.  One teacher disliked how literal the images were – which could detract from the overall meaning of the poem.  Another disliked that only one line of a poem was displayed underneath an image; she would prefer that the entire poem be displayed on the side as the images were shown. 

The number of poems on the website is limited, but some include more than just the slideshow. “Dulce Et Decorum Est,” for example gives background information on World War I, helping to place it in context for students. 

A contest that combines celebrating National School Library Month and National Poetry Month idea:  students create slideshows using Photostory that can be shown during the last week in April. 


* Po folk = poetry folk, those with poetry in their souls

Pic Lits

PicLit from PicLits.com
See the full PicLit at PicLits.com

Pic Lits is magnetic poetry – only better for a couple of reasons:

1.  You use a photo as a visual stimulus for your writing

2.  You are not limited to a selected set of words

To get started, go to the home page and choose a picture that inspires you and then add your thoughts directly to the picture.  You can choose to drag and drop words from a menu below the picture or use the “freestyle” option (like I did for the one linked to above) so that you aren’t limited by the available words.

If you want to save or share your PicLit, you must register for a free account.  Very easy – you provide your email, a password, and a pen name and you are ready to unleash your inner poet!

Interested to see how others were inspired by the same photo once you have completed and saved yours?  Click on the option beneath your saved work.

“Oh, it’s so Ning to be with you”

“Oh, it’s so nice to be with you, I love all the things you say and do…” Gallery   Eid+Mubarak+-+%D8%B9%DB%8C%D8%AF+%D9%81%D8%B7%D8%B1+%D9%85%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1%DA%A9

I was first introduced to Nings through Joyce Valenza’s TeacherLibrarianNing (2430 members). I have to confess that I found the interface quite confusing for a while.  However, since joining that Ning, I have joined several others and have become accustomed to the way Nings work.

The Ning that has excited me the most recently is the SCASL Ning.  I’ve attended three SCASL (South Carolina Association of School Librarians) conferences in the past and have been impressed with the enthusiasm and creativity of other media specialists in South Carolina.  The current leadership of SCASL has made intensive efforts to involve our association with Web 2.0 through blogging, podcasts, and even a webcast. 

Now, thanks to Julie Putnam, South Carolina library media specialists have their own social network.  As of today, 235 people have joined the Ning.  Great ideas are being shared and new friendships are being formed. 

I want my teachers to experience the professional development that Nings offer, so I thought I would find several to recommend.  The numbers in parentheses after the title of each Ning are the number of members in the Ning as of the date of this post.

English Companion: Where English teachers meet to help each other (594)       This Ning  was created by Jim Burke, author of many books including the namesake of this site, The English Teacher’s Companion. 

Classroom 2.0  (15,559) Winner of the 2008 Edublog’s Award for Best Use of Social Networking. This Ning focuses on introducing teachers to Web 2.0 tools and how they are being used to enhance instruction. 

Smart Board Revolution (750)      The members of this Ning share tips, ideas, and lessons for using Smart Boards in the classroom.

VoiceThread for Educators  (248)      The members here are participating “to create, build, and keep resources” for those using VoiceThread in the classroom.

So, You Want to Start Your Own Ning?

Ning in Education (3229)      This is a Ning on how to use Nings in education.  It’s a great starting point for anyone considering developing their own Ning.  If you want to start a Ning for your secondary classroom, be sure to investigate the offer for an ad-free site.

Image attribution:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/49512158@N00/1638001945

Multimedia Web 2.0 Tools with Educator Accounts

Many Web 2.0 sites offer services designed with educators in mind. They provide secure, private sites for students and teachers to share their work.

What’s even better is that these sites are free or very inexpensive. Here are four exceptional digital storytelling tools to add to your toolbox. Encourage your teachers and students to use these to incorporate multimedia in the classroom.

Animoto for Education

    Create music videos to enliven your lessons or have students create them as the final product in a unit. 

     “Animoto Shorts are 30-seconds in length and free for everyone. You can produce, remix, and share as many as you’d like. Full-length videos, in contrast, are extended in length. A video’s length is determined by the number of images and the music it uses.” ~ from Animoto’s Since You Asked section

     Educators receive a free All-Access pass (a $30.00 value) which allows both them and their students to create full length videos. Click here to learn more including how to create multiple email addresses that allow you to monitor each student’s account.   The Animoto site also has several examples of how educators have used it in their classrooms.

VoiceThread for Education 

Twilight Book Review (VoiceThread)

Vodpod videos no longer available.    

more about “Twilight Book Review (VoiceThread)“, posted with vodpod

“Ed.VoiceThread is a secure K-12 network for students and teachers to collaborate and share ideas with classrooms anywhere in the world.”~ Ed.VoiceThread homepage

This is the only service discussed in this post that costs – but the cost is low and well worth it! See the K-12 pricing brochure for more information.

A great resource:  VoiceThread 4 Education wiki

Glogster for Education


     Glogster, a poster creation site, “gives support and help with creating school accounts and keeping Glogs PRIVATE.” Use the posters to liven up a wiki page or have students create projects.” ~ from Glogster’s Teachers, try education 2.0 page

     Technology and Education Box of Tricks  Read this blog post to get an excellent overview of Glogster.

Smilebox for Education

Click to play BSH 9th Grade Campus LMC
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox scrapbook

“Smilebox is an easy and creative way to safely send photos, videos and personalized information to your students and parents in a secure way. It’s perfect for newsletters, overviews of teaching units, performance and field trip recaps, classroom activities and more. ” ~from Smilebox’s Welcome to the Teacher Toolbox page

Educators can sign up for a free premium Club Smilebox account (a $39.99 value).

What other multimedia Web 2.0 tools out there have upgraded educator accounts?  Please help me add to the list!

Christmas Greetings Animoto-Style

Use Animoto to create a holiday greeting card!

[clearspring_widget title=”Animoto.com” wid=”46928cc51133af17″ pid=”4943ce50d788d20b” width=”432″ height=”260″ domain=”widgets.clearspring.com”]

To simplify the process, create an Animoto folder in your pictures.  Copy and paste all of the images you wish to include in your greeting card to the folder so that when you are asked to upload your images, you can choose all of the photos at once (Control + shift). 

I originally uploaded 18 pictures to my working file in Animoto, but only 9 of them were incorporated into the free 30 second greeting card.  Using the remix feature, I was able to delete 5 of the pictures, rearrange the order of the remaining ones,  and choose another tune which allowed all 13 images to be used.

Animoto simplifies posting your videos to many sites, including Facebook, WordPress, MySpace, and more.