New Month, New Focus

01 Mar

February just flew right by. Perhaps it's that end-of-winter shut down, but I realize that I haven't blogged since the beginning of the month. That needs to change. I'd like to make an effort to blog at least 2-3 times a week in March, to get myself back into the habit. So happy March 1!

I have decided to devote this month to trying new things. Spring is right around the corner, and what better  way to celebrate than to experiment and play with new tools and resources? Want to play together? Here's what I'm experimenting with right now:

Pinterest: One year ago, this site was launched and I have been following its development (as well as the usual attempt to quantify and monetize the service). I don't have much up yet, but I'm starting to get a feel for how it works. I do wish that the process of adding people to follow was a bit easier, but I like the simplicity of the site's layout and I'm finding ways to use and organize information. Organization is not my strong suit, so I'm always looking for ways to help with that challenge and I hope that this site might be a useful tool. I love the fact that it's so visual, not simply a block of text that I have bookmarked. I'd love to see how you're using Pinterest, so here's where you can find me: Ms. Solomon on Pinterest.

Zite: Another tool I have decided to try out is Zite. It's a "smart" magazine that customizes content based on what you like (an inelegant description, sorry). I'm fascinated by the different ways in which we are creating what Eli Pariser calls a "filter bubble". If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend watching his TED talk:

Zite is certainly a way of filtering information, and in a really busy day/month/year, we need ways of finding what we're looking for more quickly. I'm enjoying using it and have found some great articles that I might not have found as quickly without Zite. 

New Project: Book Club!

It has been a while since I have read a good novel. I find myself reading a great deal of non-fiction and very little fiction. I'm not sure when that shift happened. My academic background was devoted to the study of literature. I love literature, yet somehow I haven't made time for it lately. Social media, teaching, learning, working, writing leave little time for the pleasure of reading a good book. I decided to combine my passions and start a book club on Twitter. You can follow the hashtag #TOBookClub and follow the account @TOBookClub to join in. I'll be reading, blogging, sharing and hopefully discussing books (fiction first, but I'm open to non-fiction as well) with anyone who wants to join in. 

So far, the book club has members both online and off, and I hope to bring everyone together (via Twitter, or Google +, or even in person... more to come on that later) to have a thoughtful discussion of the novel at the end of the month. To that end, here's the first novel: Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan. I'm almost 100 pages in already, it's hard to put down.  I hope you'll consider joining in and reading good books together.

Of course, teaching/learning is always in the back of my mind. I wonder if this type of format for reading a novel could work in the classroom to help support students while they're reading a text? I'm learning as I go and I'd welcome your ideas and input.

What new projects or tools are you experimenting with this spring? What's inspiring you?