Thursday, July 31, 2008

Spanish Software

I found this website with a comparison of Spanish software.

Instant Immersion Spanish looks promising. It retails for $30.99 on Some things I like about it:
  • 20+ games to reinforce your Spanish learning
  • detects pronunciation errors and offers playback of corrected speech
  • 5 audio CDs included so you can learn on the go
  • DVD with an interactive mystery game
  • 60 day money back guarantee

Berlitz Spanish retails for $36.99 on Some neat features:
  • audio CDs make learning on the go easy
  • speech recognition function
  • cultural lessons and video conversations

The verdict:
Both of these products are getting poor reviews on Amazon, but they are the top rated for their price category. If I am willing to invest only $50 or less then I think I will try Instant Immersion.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008 the library

I mentioned in my 7 1/2 things list that one of my goals is to improve my Spanish. Perhaps I should give some background here. I have not lived in the "Valley" all my life. I grew up in Central Texas. I moved to South Texas when I was in sixth grade. I have been trying to learn Spanish ever since. I have taken high school Spanish and college Spanish. But, I am STRUGGLING. The majority of the population in my area is bilingual. I understand Spanish well enough to comprehend most basic conversation, however speaking is ... complicated for me. I lack confidence and I have a hard time figuring out when to use the correct conjugation. So I plan to work on my library conversational skills especially. I know I will be dealing with parents quite a bit more than in the classroom.

Today I spoke with two parents both in Spanish during the two hour period I was at school. Mind you the school was closed and still I needed to be fluent in Spanish. I tried my best but I was stumbling for the correct words.

While at Target I came across two software options for improving your Spanish. I plan to research these online and I will post what I learn when I am done.

Working in my library

Today I got to go by my library and work for a couple of hours. Since I am not very familiar with my collection yet, I spent some time going through the shelves and checking out what was on there. I like to feel the books in my hands and see their covers. Most books are color coded by grade level, so I tried to do a visual evaluation of which areas were lacking. Many books look like they are from another decade. I also noticed many fiction books were lacking AR tests in the older kids section. Also, I noticed many "hot new" books were not available on the shelves. I did see The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which made me smile. Since I really enjoyed that book. I need to go through and pull damaged books from the shelves.

I have to think about what to do with the Spanish collection. Right now it is color coded by grade level, but then it is not organized within the color. Books have been shelved randomly within their color section. That sounds inefficient. It will be a big task to rearrange the entire section though. Hmmmm...

The nonfiction section is great. Many different topics. A huge number of AR test book. Very pleased with this section.

I only looked at the easy section briefly. It seems good too.

I got to look at the last book order which was placed in June, but I was not able to print it out yet. There were lots of good books listed. Can't wait to get them on the shelves!

I went through the fifth grade book sets and pulled some books to read so I can start doing some podcasts. I have some ideas for making these sets more appealing to teachers. First of all I want to create a list by grade level with a summary from of each book. Then I plan to create a booktalk of a few of the titles in each grade level. I am going to start with Fifth grade and then do 1st grade and alternate back and forth. I want to count the books in each box and make sure they are numbered. I hope to put some podcasts of these book talks on the library webpage. I want to visit the classrooms when possible.

I also started going through Athena, but I am having trouble figuring out just how many books are missing. When I try to run a report about 6 books turn up, but the previous librarian printed out a page for each patron with lost books. The problem is I want a total amount lost. Some of these print outs she left have dollar amounts and some do not. I don't want to have to go student by student to figure this out if there is a feature on the program that will do it for me. Have to think on this a while.

# 5 Flickr

Today's lesson on 23 Things is Flickr. As you may recall, I recently started a Photobucket account so I am curious to see how similar these are. So far I have completed the tutorial and I am learning about some new terminology:
"Sets are a grouping of photos and videos that you can organize around a certain theme, such as Our Hawaii Trip."
"Collections are a grouping of Sets (or other Collections) so you can organize around grander themes, such as People, Travels, or by year (2007, 2006, etc)."
"The Organizr is where both Collections and Sets are created. It also allows you to perform common tasks on large batches of photos and videos, such as tagging, changing permissions, or editing timestamps."

I thought the group feature seemed interesting. I will have to check that out further. Also the make stuff feature is really cool. Flickr allows you to create things with your photos such as: Wall prints, blurb books, Moo cards, QOOP photo books and calendars, etc.

Flickr also has an option like MySpace where you can add Friends who have access to your photos. You can give guest passes to those without Flickr accounts. Those who visit your photo albums can leave comments and even add notes to your pictures. In addition, you can track who has been to your site and how many times. Very cool!

Next I tried out Flickr's Interestingness feature. This highlights some of the most interesting content on Flickr. Wow, I looked at July and only a little bit of it. I was hard to stop. There are so many beautiful and unique pictures. Check it out.

I also tried out the map feature. I typed in McAllen, Texas. I was pleased to find quite a few pictures. It was a little disappointed that many of them were topless dancers :-( Oh well, nothing I can do about that.

All information quoted above came from:

My Blog Assignments Are DONE!!!

For my library science class at Sam Houston State University I have been creating a blog of Current Trends in Literature for 2008. I needed to read 39 books and post a summary with reflection.

**Spoiler Alert- All book summaries expose the end of the stories.

Here is my blog: ReadItUp


Maybe, I am a little behind the times, but I finally set up a photobucket account and created some slideshows. In my spare time, I am a makeup junkie so I created a few slide shows about some of my favorite makeup looks. Here's the most current:

Some things I have learned so far:
1. this is super easy and makes sharing images lots of fun
2. there are a lot of features on photobucket that I need to play around with
3. it is fairly easy to upload slide shows to forums and blogs

Sunday, July 27, 2008

# 2 & 3 - 7 1/2 Lifelong Learning Habits

I made some notes on the 7 1/2 Lifelong Learning Habits reflecting on how they apply to my life.
  • Begin with the end in mind-- This one is the easiest for me. I am always mapping out what I want to happen. I can never just see how things go. I am always thinking about the end before I even begin.
  • Accept responsibility for your own learning-- This is something I also do well, although at times I struggle with it. Sometimes I think, well how am I ever going to learn how to speak Spanish if I have no one to teach me? or ...someone to watch the kids...or someone to take care of the house. You get the idea.
  • View problems as challenges-- This can be difficult for me. It is so much easier to get frustrated when problems arise, but in general I am pretty patient. I think I could work on being more optimistic.
  • Have confidence in yourself as a competent and effective learner-- This is probably the hardest for me when it comes to learning Spanish. I lack confidence in myself since I have already taken classes and I still don't know conversational Spanish. I have even said to myself, I will never learn Spanish...I'm too old already to learn a new language. This is ridiculous since I am not yet 30! It is a cop-out and simpler for me to just quit than to work extra hard to learn Spanish.
  • Create your own learning toolbox-- I think I do a good job of this. I have web resources and friends/ colleagues I can consult as well as books.
  • Use technology to your advantage-- I feel like I am fairly tech savvy. I just recently realized I am not using technology to organize my life. So I started an iGoogle page and calendar to track my appointments. Since I am a list person I also started a TadaList to help me eliminate those paper to do lists.
  • Teach/ mentor others-- This one is a given, since I love teaching already. One of my favorite tasks was using technology in the classroom.
  • Play-- With so many responsibilities it can be hard to find the time to play. But just because I am a mother and a wife and a librarian doesn't mean that I am not still ME. So I promise myself I will take time to enjoy the fun stuff in life. Starting now.
These 7 1/2 Lifelong Learning Habits can be found at 23 Things.

# 1 The Goal of this Blog

I am starting tonight on 23 Things. In August I will be starting for the first time as a librarian in an elementary school in PSJA ISD. Everything will be new to me and I plan to use this blog to track my learning and growth. I am currently in the masters program at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. At the end of July I will be half way through my program. I plan to graduate in the summer of 2009.