Thursday, March 28, 2013

The New Symbaloo

I received an email this morning letting me know that Symbaloo was new and improved. I headed over to Symbaloo to check it out and this is what I found out:

 1. You can add a background to your mixes now (If you were able to do this before, I had no idea!)

  2. You have a menu on the side to edit - I found myself switching back and forth from the old version to the new version because I wasn't really sure how to use the new version. I caught on after a while and will probably stick to the new version the next go around.

 3. Better customization of tiles and a better way to search - this definitely seemed easier in the new version than the old version.

4.  When I embedded this updated version, I noticed the background didn't appear - but embedding is simple so that is okay.  Notice I put some of the social networks I use.  Unfortunately Vine doesn't have a web version available just yet.  I like that I can check my Twitter, Pinterest, and Instragram accounts online, don't you?!!

Overall, I like the new Symbaloo - I suspect you will too!

Monday, March 25, 2013

WEVIDEO - free and easy to use!


WEVIDEO is a free web resource that easily allows you to create videos online.  I wanted to test this resource out today and found that I was able to create a list of this week's top ten best sellers according to The New York Times in less that 4 minutes.  I am not kidding.  After finishing the video, I published it directly to YOUTUBE.  I usually choose YOUTUBE since I can use the URLs for blogging purposes.  The whole process was simple.....

With WEVIDEO you can choose from a multitude of themes and music.  You can easily upload pictures and  movie clips from your desktop or  WEVIDEO easily uploads from  these social media networks.

Once you have everything uploaded, you create a title on the beginning slide, then you can manipulate how long you want each photo or video clip to be.  It automatically set slides to 7 seconds and I decreased each clip to 3 seconds.  Here is the simple and easily created video that shares the top YA best sellers according to The New York Times.

Here is another example that took me less than 5 minutes uploading photos from my Instragram Account.  I like keeping evidence of my photos on social networks because it acts like a diary for me.  Here is another quick sample of a WEVIDEO product.

How do you think you can use WEVIDEO?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

#adivineday - A Vine Daily Challenge

I posted this on my personal blog, but I am excited to get started using Vine - so I am going to post it here on our Librarians on the Fly Blog!

I am a social media nut - I use  Instragram, Twitter, and Facebook daily and I am convinced that it is what keeps me abreast on what is new in the world of technology.  One of the things I love  about Instagram is the daily #fmsphotoaday using the iPhone Instagram App.  With the daily #fmsphotoaday I find myself planning ahead and really being on the lookout during the day for the perfect shot. And now, I have just started using the new #VINE app.  VINE is like twitter in that you really have to think about what you are posting because it has a limit.  Twitter challenges you to get your point across in 140 characters or less, Vine challenges you to create a video post in just 6 seconds.  When I joined Vine this week, I looked around at what people were using it for.  One of my favorite librarians ever, Jon Schu, already has 44 followers and 85 posts.  He is sharing books that his students are reading, author visit preparations, and displays.  Because I have just started using Vine yesterday, I am looking for innovative ways to video.  I think using social media can be powerful for librarians, teachers, students and really anyone who enjoys learning, but having a prompt makes it more purposeful.  On the daily prompt I have set for myself (and anyone else who might want to try it) I have chosen words that work for anyone.  Take Day 1 for example - fooling around - (it is April Fools Day) can apply to a student, a teacher, a mother, a librarian, an attorney - anyone.  How a person interprets the word and finds a way to photograph it or explain it with a 6 second video can be insightful.  Can you think of ways to use Vine?  If you don't have an account yet - you should.  I think it is going to be big - it is after all owned by Twitter.  If you do get a Vine account - you can follow me at @annvega.

My beginning Vine posts with no purpose – but I am excited to start the challenge above!
#Kool - My Crazy Dog and First Subject

Cruising with my husband

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Free Trial Resource: Flocabulary

One of my teachers forwarded this message to me with a plea to sign up.   
I signed us up for the free school-wide trial, and now I don't know who is more excited - the teachers or the students.   
Even the Tech Coordinator is on board, hoping to see some student-produced tracks soon.

Get unlimited schoolwide access—free.

Start Your Schoolwide Trial
Over 15,000 schools use Flocabulary to help students reach their academic potential.
How can Flocabulary empower your students? This spring, take a free test-drive and find out.
Sign up today for a schoolwide trial subscription and get:

  • Hundreds of educational hip-hop videos, songs and lessons 
  • Unlimited usage for all teachers and students
  • 24/7 access on any internet-enabled device
Explore our award-winning library through June 30, 2013 with no obligation to purchase. Sign up at:

Start Your Schoolwide Trial


Monday, March 4, 2013

Google Search: How it works and the Updated Search for IOS

Google Search - How It Works and the new Updated Device Google Search

Have you ever wondered how the Google search process works?  Well if you are like me, the fact that anyone can find out the most important and the most random results is intriguing.  From crawling and indexing, to algorithms and fighting spam - the whole process is quite amazing.  Watch their explanation below......


We all know that part of your success when searching in Google has to do with your search terms. When you are searching, there are some tips and tricks that Google suggests.  Here is a list of their tips:

Google Search Skills:

1.     Start simple – enter a basic name or word
2.     Less is more – one or two word search term
3.     Don’t worry about punctuation
4.     Ignore spelling
5.     Use web friendly words
6.     Search with an exact phrase by putting quotation marks “to be or not to be”
7.     Use descriptive words
8.     Don’t worry about being case sensitive
9.     Include or ignore words in your search (a, the, &)

This infographic has great tips also:

To make things even easier - Google now has updated their app for Android and IOS devices.  You can now speak your questions to Google Search and get your results verbally from your device.  Watch the video below.

Works cited:
" How Search Works - The Story – Inside Search – Google ." Google. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2013. <>.

" Search Tips & Tricks – Inside Search – Google ." Google. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2013. <>.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Book Trailers... Who is Doing the Learning?

Thursday was one of those days that, despite the busy-ness, I was invigorated at the end, rather than exhausted.  The teachers and students I work with inspire me!

Once again, Mr. R, a Grade 6 English teacher, and I teamed up for a collaborative project: student-made Book Trailers.  Up to now, I had learned how to make trailers, promoted books via trailers, and offered to teach trailers, but the opportunity to actually TEACH how to make book trailers to real students had eluded me.  Making trailers takes TIME, of which no one seems to have enough.  But Mr. R decided his students needed this opportunity to use their 21st Century skills to share their recreational reading, and he took me up on my offer.

Using resources I have gathered from Teresa Schauer's workshop at TxLA as well as Mrs. H's website, I consulted with our Tech Coordinator to better understand with which software applications most grade 6 students are familiar.  Mr. R and I discussed how designated classtime would be used, and when I asked about evaluation criteria - to make sure I addressed what was necessary - he told me he had not planned to evaluate this assignment, since it is part of the students' recreational reading.  Can you believe that!?!

Our Plan


Before he brought his students to the library, Mr. R instructed his students to begin thinking about which book they would like to use, to select a partner if they so wished, and to watch a few trailers to identify what they liked and didn't like.


Students were given a story board outline to help them think about the sorts of images they would like to use.


Class was held in the library, where we reviewed the definition of copyright and plagiarism.  Students were shown two sources for copyright clear images and how to properly cite them.  They created folders in their EDU2.0 accounts to hold the images as well as the Word document with the citations.


Serendipity brought the same students to the library with another teacher to research images.  Students are in the process of desgining and creating robotic bugs, and used their library time to find inspiration for the color scheme and overall design of their insects.  Although royalty-free images and proper citations were not necessarily REQUIRED for the specific project they doing in Design Technology, their wonderful teacher seized the opportunity to have students practice their searching and citing skills.  I introduced Google advanced search, and how to select "free to use or share" under usage rights, as a third source of images.


Students returned for a double period.  The Tech Coordinator joined us to help with trouble-shooting issues, so there were three teachers on hand to assist.  It was suggested to students to use Keynote, since they are all familiar with this program, but they were allowed to use any software application of their choice, such as Animoto or iMovie. What could have been disastrous was a wonderful informal assessment opportunity for me.

Four students were able to complete their projects by the end of class, with many others very, very close.

This was one of those "Hollywood" lessons, where the students were completely absorbed in their work, they were teaching each other, and the teachers spent a lot of time observing... and learning from the students.  Students would ask questions of us, all the while looking around at their classmates, and ending their questions with, "X knows how to do that... I'll ask him!"

What I Learned Today

  • Where to locate royalty-free music (see below)
  • How to access and save on our school's groups drive
    • I knew this was possible, but had never actually done it.
  • How to embed music on a Keynote presentation as a soundtrack
    • I have been a PowerPoint girl for years.  But I am at an all-Mac campus, so I have committed myself to learning Keynote this year.
  • What my students need from me.  Students here are well-equipped with tech skills, so I found that what they needed instruction with was:
    • The books they choose.  We suggested they choose a book they could picture in their minds as a movie.  Many chose books that had already been made into movies, and therefore wanted to use movie images and video clips... which, as a plus, did create teaching moments about copyright issues.  In the future, I would make it a requirement that books that are already movies not be used for their first projects.  
    •  The types of photos they choose.  Often, a LOT of time was spent finding the "perfect" photo of someone/something that precisely matched the book's description, rather than accepting a representation.  Helping students focus on one or two details (the feathers on the wings) rather than the whole scene (a girl with a 14-foot wingspan soaring over a cityscape) was a frequent conversation. 
    • Proper MLA format.  There is a great variety of citation formats in this first batch of trailers.  While credit is given to sources, we still have some work to do to get it right.
  • Application of visual bookmarking program:
This was also the class for which I built my first Symbaloo.  While not outstanding, I am comfortable sharing:

Next Steps

Students are expected to polish and upload their trailers to the groups drive in the upcoming week.  I will be reviewing trailers, uploading them to our YouTube channel, and then embedding them in our Digital Hub.  The Tech Coordinator is going to take students through the process of creating QR codes, and my assistants will attach the codes to the books.  A blurb will go out in our weekly newsletter to our greater school community.  And then it will be time to begin the process again...

Grab the Popcorn

Here's a sneak preview...

Friday, March 1, 2013

Wake Up Texas!

Wake Up Texas!

On February 16th, 2013, The Daily Beast wrote about libraries trying to survive during this Era of cutbacks.  They state, " Libraries are on the back burner in numerous states. Last year, Texas issued across-the-board cuts in library funding, reducing the budget by 64 percent. The overall state library budget is expected to shrink from $19.8 million annually to $7.2 million. In Michigan, many libraries folded under budget constraints. The state reported more than 20 closures last year. "  Leaders and educators are trying everything to improve education, but instead of improving libraries and ensuring they have certified librarians, they would rather spend their money elsewhere.  Of course, all this is happening at a time when families and students are reaching out to libraries for information resources and evaluating those resources.  See the infographic below compiled by the 2013 Library Research Service and Colorado State  Library.

What are your thoughts on library budget cuts?


Beast, The Daily. "Can Libraries Survive in an Era of Budget Cutbacks? - The Daily Beast." The Daily Beast. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Make the case for school libraries with our new impact studies infographic | Library Research Service News." Library Research Service| Research And Statistics About Libraries . N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Mar. 2013. <>.

In honor of Dr. Seuss' Birthday....

Theodor Seuss Geisel - aka Dr. Seuss - born on March 2, 1904.

 I grew up with Dr. Seuss books and so did my own children.  What a gift Dr. Seuss left for all of us - books that we love to read over and over. I would like to thank for their wonderful graphic with 30 Dr. Seuss quotes that can change your life.