Friday, April 18, 2014

Content Curation

As the article linked later in this post suggests, there are many terms that have surfaced in the field of education. There is one term that I would like to focus on in this entry: content curation

Entering "definition of content curation" into the Google search box, I get the following result:

"The process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme."

Source: Content Curation Primer - Beth's Blog

In the article Understanding Content Curation the author discusses the difference between collecting information and curating. She includes an excellent graphic that compares the two concepts.

Souce: Understanding Content Curation by Nancy White
Innovations in Education - Reflections on Learning

She goes on to say that rather than just classifying information, the curator must use higher level thinking skills in order to organize the content in a meaningful way. Taking this idea a step further, content curation can become an educational and informative intermediate step in the research process for students. It can help them to better select and understand the resources that are the best fit for their end product.

So in this post I'm sharing Web 2.0 tools that can be used by both teachers and students for curating the vast amount of information out there.

Blendspace: The website touts "create lessons in 5 minutes". Better yet, have students create their own resources, reviews, and more. With teacher created blendspaces, you can add assessments and track student progress. Click on the Gallery link on the toolbar for examples. There's also a Teacher Resources link. Content is available on any device with an Internet connection.

LiveBinders offers an easy way to organize a lot of information. Click here to see a really interesting example of how a teacher used LiveBinders for his classroom. LiveBinders has apps for IOS, Android and Chrome.

Pearltrees is described as "a place to collect, organize and share everything you like". Click here for an example on the subject of chemistry. The blue circles (example shown to the right) indicate embedded Pearltrees. This tool has apps for IOS and Android.

Pinterest: You most likely have heard of Pinterest, and maybe you've done some pinning of your own. Click here for a board on Pinterest for Teachers. I have not quite gotten the knack of pinning, but obviously many people have.! lets users quickly curate web content into a visual, online publication. You may have noticed in the article above that the author created a! on Curating Learning Resources.! has apps for many devices and programs.

Storify: With Storify, you use the web to tell a story. Content can be from just about any source - Twitter, videos, images, links, text and more. Users can also add their own content or narrative. Take the tour to learn more. Check out this Storify on using this tool in a journalism class. 

A number of these sites have "bookmarklets" (sometimes other terms are used). A bookmarklet is a small software application. Typically it adds a button to your browser that will allow you to quickly add content from the current web page to a specific application. This option is very handy when curating web content.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Screen Capture

If you recall my last post was about screencasting, or recording the actions on your screen. This is a useful tool for creating videos for a flipped classroom, or just providing instructions for your students. For this post, I wanted to mention a related tool: screen capture. Screen capture tools allow you to select a portion of what is visible on your computer and either save it or paste it into a document, website, etc. For example, you can select a photo along with its caption, a specific portion of an article, or part of a map. These images can then be used for discussions, assignments, writing prompts, etc.

The tool that I use is Jing from TechSmith. It's called Snag It in Google Play and iTunes. It’s free. Jing does require a download. Below is an example of a screen capture of a bird’s eye view of the high school. With Jing, you can add text, arrows, frames and highlighting. I've highlighted the library in this photo. I should add that you can use this tool to create screencasts, but I find Screencastomatic works better for videos.

Another option is to use the free “snipping tool” that comes with Windows 7. With this tool, you can add writing and highlighting. An example is show below. To access this tool, go to:

Start Button > All Programs > Accessories > Snipping Tool

Right click on this icon to send a shortcut to your desktop for easy access. 

There are many more screen capture tools. So feel free to add any tools you like into the comment section of this post.

Next up: Web 2.0 resources where these tools can be helpful.

Friday, January 24, 2014


As I have been creating resources for the media center, I find myself using screencasting tools more and more. If you are not familiar with this term, here is a quick definition (from 

Screencasting: A screencast is a digital recording of computer screen output, also known as video screen capture, often containing audio narration.

The screencapture tool that I have found very easy to use is ScreencastOMatic. You can record directly from the ScreencastOMatic website with no registration. You do have the option of downloading the free software and/or creating an account. Screencasting can be used for:
  • Creating tutorials
  • Showing students how to access software or web resources
  • Discussing any resource that you can open on your computer or device – websites, documents, spreadsheets, images, etc.

The videos can then be linked on your website so that students can review them as needed.

Students can also use screencasting for projects, for example, demonstrating their understanding of a resource, concept or image.

Kathy Shrock has a comprehensive web page of screencasting resources:
Kathy Shrock’s Guide to Everything – Screencasting in the classroom.

In her blog, Kathy's Katch - Screencasting for ecducators, she also gives some practical advice on getting started.

One recommendation I have is to start small. I found that breaking information into multiple screencasts worked best for me. Otherwise I found myself fumbling sentences and saying some very strange things…

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


As I was contemplating my next post, I thought of how students (and adults) can benefit from assistance with developing ideas and plans. So the next tools I'm going to write about have to do with brainstorming, capturing input as well as organizing thoughts and ideas. They are listed on the RHS Media website on the Web Tools tab as well. is an easy to use site for quickly adding and mapping ideas. Maps can be saved or exported as an image (JPEG) file.

padlet (formerly Wallwisher) is self described as "paper for the web". Comments and ideas can be instantly captured on a topic. Contributions can be anonymous if needed. You can try this tool out here

Realtime Board is described as a "white board" for your browser. This tool is a bit more complex to use. But it does tie in to Google Drive. Boards can be shared for collaborative work. They can also be downloaded as an image (JPEG). is an easy to use brainstorming tool. Multi-media elements such as text, files, images, maps and calendar events can quickly be added. Work can be shared for collaboration, downloaded as an image file (JPEG) or printed.

TodaysMeet is a great tool for capturing ideas, comments and questions in real time. It's also easy to set up and use. Try it out here. No registration required.

NoodleTools (school login info) and Prezi are also possible options for brainstorming and organizing thoughts. The Notecard Table Top in NoodleTools lets students add and organize ideas and information. This program is also a great research project tool where students can manage their work, store resources, get assistance with citing sources and much more. It also ties in well with the Common Core standards. Click on the link above for logging in. Contact me for more information. 

Prezi is typically thought of as a presentation tool. But text, files, images and videos can easily be captured and organized in the work space. Prezis can also be shared for collaboration, saved, printed, etc. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Got books?
With winter break quickly approaching, you may have some readers on your gift list, or maybe you’re just looking forward to reading a good book during the time off. So this week I’m including a number of reading sources.

This first link is the transcript of a lecture given by Neil Gaiman – author of numerous graphic novels, and award winning books including The Graveyard Book, Coraline and Anansi Boys. It’s truly inspiring. OK, I may be biased about the library part.

Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

Next are a couple websites that may give you some ideas about “what to read next”. Or as the second source put it, “…I just want to know what my niece is talking about…”

What should I read next? – enter the name of a book or author to figure out “what to

read next”

So you’d like to read a YA novel… -
 click on the text options to find out your next YA book (I heard about this chart from a few people)

And for those of you who find it difficult to keep track of all the YA series out there, the following website is an extensive resource that is easy to use

Juvenile Series and Sequels

I recently came across the following blog and will definitely be referencing it in the future for book purchases – a teen blogger who reviews “…books about people of color (poc)”

Reading in Color – this link is for the booklist page

In case you’re not sure if our students are reading, check out this interactive article based on a report from the Pew Research Center

Interactive Chart: American Teenagers Read More Books

The book list resources can also be found on the RHS Media Center website. 

Thank you for all you do to inspire our students to read!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Databases and blogs - oh my!

Databases and blogs

You might be asking why I am writing about databases and blogs together (maybe that's a librarian thing...) since databases are collections of credible data and information for student research. While a blog (a shortened version of “web log”) can be written by anyone about their experiences, opinions, etc. So potentially credible, but they are not always a good source for research and must be evaluated - check out Hennepin County Library's Databases vs. Websites on evaluating web resources.


  • I have updated the database page on the RHS media center site. You can check out the new version here
  • I also added a link up in the right-hand corner that explains how to access the databases on and off site. Users will need to sign into their Richfield Google Apps account to see this information.
  • For accessing the databases that are provided by the state (Gale and EBSCO), users must enter a public library card number when not at school. This is to verify that they are in the state of Minnesota since the state is paying for us to use them.
  • Please let me know if you have any suggestions for improving this page.


  • I have finally put the last couple Tech Tuesdays in an informational blog format so it’s more accessible: Library Without Borders
  • I’ve also included some links on the right for your use. These links can be found on the RHS Media website too. 
  • Again, let me know if you have any suggestions for this site.

Monday, December 2, 2013


The following sites can help students (or anyone) improve their vocabulary in different subject areas.
You have probably used, but have you tried their Word Dynamo (link above the search box)? Use this tool to test your knowledge of words at different grade levels. I use a great deal when writing as well. Can create a free account. Has apps.

Flashcard Stash – Scroll down to the Popular Lists and Categories to select an area to study. Or click on “View all” in the in Popular Lists to find an exact category. Once the topic has been chosen, there are a number of game formats to try. Can create a free account.

Knoword – Challenge your word knowledge by guessing words based on their definition. Can create a free account.

VocabAhead – Students can use the Study Room to learn and practice vocabulary in a number of formats. Teachers click on the Teacher tab for directions on how to create customized lists. Can create a free account. Has apps. – Resources for both students and teachers including word lists, puzzles, lesson plans and more.

More of a visual learner? Try out Lexipedia or Visuwords to see words represented in a graphic organizer format. 

Now an update on the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2013: