Friday, June 27, 2008

Tag Galaxy: Sanibel

Alan Levine posted a Tag Galaxy picture collage about China on his blog which motivated me to check out the new-to-me web 2.0 app. You type in a tag and Tag Galaxy creates a visual, moving, 3-D galaxy of options for you to browse. Click on a planet in the galaxy (labeled with a category) to view that group of images. I almost didn't get to the pictures because I had so much fun playing around with the moving Galaxy. Once you click the planet 'o pictures, you can click each picture to see it full screen. It reminded me of Jeff Han's TED demonstration:
Jeff Han shows off a cheap, scalable multi-touch and pressure-sensitive computer screen interface that may spell the end of point-and-click.
I created a Tag Galaxy image of Sanibel where I'll be heading on Saturday to work on the next level of Janet Allen's Plugged-In to Reading. Of course, the work doesn't look like my Galaxy images, it looks more like the picture below, but still... the island is an amazing place to be.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wordle Cloud

Wordle is a online application that makes word clouds. You know me and my word art, so this is just so cool. You can type in your own words and it will arrange them or if you use delicious , you can allow wordle to make a tag cloud out of your bookmarks. For those who've never heard of delicious, it's a social bookmarking tool. You post your "favorites" or bookmarks to your delicious page. Why? Because then they are not computer dependent; you can access them from any computer in the world that has an internet connection. Plus you can network in delicious. Once you add folks to your network, you have access to the bookmarks they are posting too! And they are are searchable, organizable, etc. Delicious, like so many Web 2.0 tools, comes with its own vocabulary. When you post a site (bookmark) to your Delicious page, you add tags to the bookmark.
Tags tell a reader/user what category or categories the bookmark falls into; for instance, if I were to bookmark my own blog, I might tag it personal-blogs or family-blogs or just blogs. You create your tag thus creating your own organizationl system for your bookmarks. Tags that have a lot of bookmarked entries are bigger and darker in color that tags containing fewer bookmarks, so you can see when you look at a tag cloud, bookmarking and interesting trends. Here's my Delicious tag cloud that I created in Wordle. Click it to see the large version at Wordle. Can you tell what my interests are lately?

Friday, June 20, 2008

My Digital Native

Mom babysat for Collin last weekend while I was in Maine working with Plugged-In to Reading writers. She used her cool Nikon to snap shots of Collin playing with the soccer ball in the backyard. I love her camera! I think it's the DX 40, but I may not be remembering the right model. I love even more that Mom emailed me the pictures while I was in amazes me. Collin will never know waiting for film to develop. He'll never know not be able to use a phone from anywhere at anytime. He will never know not being able to look up any piece of information instantly from home or the road on a laptop. He's a digital native. I wonder how that will make him think differently? I wonder how that will shape him as a learner?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Laundry Love

Can I just say that I am in love with my laundry room? Well maybe not love, but certainly heavy like. A few months ago our washer broke. "Our washer" is actually a figurative term meaning the 15 year-old washer that my Mom gave us 7 years ago. It was a great washer for a 22 year-old and we sure appreciated the gift of it when we moved into the house. When it went Rick and I decided to pursue laundry priorities: water efficient, energy efficient and space efficient. We did and though I have to bend down to get the wash, I love the new machines. They are quieter and indeed efficient. Of course the clothes are as clean as the they were with the old washer.

What I love the most about the laundry room now though are the cabinets we put in. Finally, we have a places to put things: cleaning supplies, detergents, sunscreen. We had piles of various and sundry things we shed as we came into the house. Now we have a shoe shelf in the garage and a sunscreen and catch all basket in the laundry cupboard. Something in me is calmed by order. I told my sister in law I'd post a picture of the cabinets. They're cheap, iKea cabinets (the doors cost far more than the cabinets), but they weigh a ton and went together easily. As my Mom would say, they are clean and neat and do the job. I'm enjoying the transformation.

PS: On my brother's advice we used the laundry room to practice installing crown molding. "We" also being a figurative term meaning I only held boards and did the caulking with Rick doing the measuring, cutting and actual installation. Here's a glimpse of Rick's good job along with one of my favorite Collin paintings (Collin and I did it together when he was 2).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Library Card

Collin got his first library card today! He signed the back and everything. I can remember going to the library with my mom at least once a week when I was a child. She's since told me that it was one of the many free things she could take John and I to do, but boy I loved those days. Sitting on the floor or browsing shelf after shelf slipping into and out of stories: pure magic. I can even remember how the old library smelled. I can't wait to take Collin to the main library downtown. Today we just went to one of the smaller branches near home, but perhaps next week we'll go to the big building!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Shine On Mighty Caterpillar

We have butterflies! Well, one butterfly so far. The monarch chrysallis hatched. We didn't even see the chrysallis turn from its jeweled green to the pre-hatch blackish-grey. When we got up for school Monday morning the butterfly had arrived. wish I could have gotten a better picture, but we wanted the boys, Collin and Ethan, to set him free and I left for school before they woke up. Don't you just love the polka-dots?

Ethan visited for a couple days this past weekend before flying out of Orlando on a big adventure to Alaska with his daddy, David. How cool is that? The last time Collin and Ethan cultivated caterpillars, when the boys were maybe 3, Collin named his Spike and for many months after the chrysallis hatched and the butterfly was freed, the boys chased any Monarch they saw calling, "Spike, Spike, come back, come back!" We didn't name this butterfly, but we marveled over it just the same.

What a gorgeous and powerful creature, the caterpillar. It reminds me of the Marianne Williamson quote from Aleekah and the Bee which Collin and I watched last night:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our
deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Who are we not to shine? I'll be thinking about that one for a long time, especially as Collin and I go into summer together and I shift into a different teacher assignment for next year.