I steal learning

Yesterday, in ‘must reads,’ I wrote that the challenge of a reading list had propelled me to the library to check out a few of the books on the list, so that I might increase my reading score. One of those was The Red Queen by Margaret Drabble. A story within the story concerns a 200 year-old memoir written by a Korean crown princess, who admits that “learning was not forbidden to women, but nor was it freely offered to them;” therefore, she often ‘stole’ learning:

When I was young, I read everything I could lay my hands upon. I stole learning from my clever young aunt, who was willing to teach me. I stole from Prince Sado, who in those early years was willing to talk to me about history and about literature and about the Confucian texts. I was an eager and a secret scholar. I stole and stored the scraps I thought I might need. (32-3)

It struck me that this was an apt description of how I compile scraps of information from all over the web, to remix and use in these blog posts as well as lessons for the classroom.

I have several growing repositories for my loot, and I choose which one to use depending on need. For example, if I find a website I want to keep in its entirety, I sock it away in Del.icio.us, a social bookmarker. The site provides a button to download onto my Firefox toolbar, making it very convenient to tag and bookmark sites. The social aspect of Del.icio.us, however, encourages me to steal even more learning, as I often find articles of interest that others have bookmarked.

If I come across a site that I need to annotate or highlight as a whole or in part, Scrapbook or Diigo will ride shotgun. I’ve written about them previously here. Google Notebook is similar to Scrapbook as a means to capture information, and while it doesn’t have an annotator, you can add comments. The main difference between the two is that Google Notebook is a web application and can be shared, while Scrapbook resides in your Firefox browser, and is therefore available to only you.

Recently, I’ve been seen with a new partner-in-crime, called Google Docs Bar, and it is a real multi-tasker. Gdocsbar is a Firefox extension that downloads a button for my toolbar. When I press it, a sidebar loads a scrolling list of my Google documents, so I can access them at any time. This handy application also provides a simple drag-and-drop function that turns any website, or portion of a site, into a Google document. It’s the easiest way to grab recipes, or poems, or tips about the using the web.

No learning is safe from my thieving ways.



  1. Eric said,

    May 13, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Thanks to finding you, I have become a “thief” as well. I am now using Google docs like a madman (and sharing it with every teacher I run into). I look forward to my break this summer to allow me time to delve deeper into how I can use these many tools that I have found between you and Dy/Dan with my fifth graders next year! Thanks…I am happy to have found you…

  2. ggratton said,

    May 13, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Hi Eric, Thanks for your words of encouragement. I’m so excited about using these tools for education I feel like shouting sometimes. It’s nice to know someone is listening. I’ll make my way over to yours and Mr. Myers site as well. Thanks again. Garnet

  3. John Adkins said,

    May 14, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Thanks for the heads up on the Google Docs Bar. I had not seen that before. Do you have an rss or atom feed from the blog? I would love to feed your posts into my reader. Cheers!


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