The Daring Librarian By Gwyneth Jones.+Add.Feed Info1000FOLLOWERS
Gwyneth Jones is a blogger, a Tweeter, an international Ed Tech speaker, trope and meme archivist, creator of content, a citizen of advocacy, and a resident of social media. She is a Google Certified Teacher, and the author of the award winning The Daring Librarian blog.
Do you ever get stuck clicking around Amazon buying random stuff you may not really need but suddenly desire? Yeah, me neither! [cough] Like today, among other things, I got a Misto Brushed Aluminum Olive Oil Sprayer for my roasted cauliflower & Brussels sprouts addiction and a set of 4 Le Creuset Silicone French Coasters for the Coastal Cottage.
But sometimes I stumble across something that sparks my creativity and I'm like - SO COOL!....Now what can I do with it?
I love wearing keys! About 10 years ago I got a custom sterling & sapphire G key on Etsy and then the extra large Tiffany key -- because, Tiffany. But I thought these keys could be used both for a Reading Promotion Program as well as a Teacher Librarian PD gift with the saying "Librarians are the Key to Information Mastery!" (See graphic above) Now, usually I share stuff AFTER I've done it - but for this I'm kinda halfway there and rather than waiting, I thought I'd share it now so you could get started if you wanted to!
But First, Always - the KIDS! I needed a tie-in for the keys, a saying, or a motto! Reading is the Key to a Rich & Interesting Future! or....Reading is the Key to a Rich & Interesting Life! How to get this message onto the brown card tags? A custom stamp, that's how! So, I went to Etsy and searched and found Sugar Plum Stamps (with FREE Shipping!) to make a custom stamp with my saying. And, OK...here's where I live by "there's no shame in my game" I ordered the wrong size first. Yup. Paid $31 bucks of my own $ and when I got it a week or so later and tried it on the tag, it was too big! GAH! So, I contacted the stamp creator gave her the exact size of the tag and a link to the item (so she could double check me!) and ordered a second one. Whew! But the second one was perfect! It's OK, I'll find some other use for the larger one -- on a bulletin board advertising the program (Confession: I HATE making bulletin board displays!)
I challenged my wonderful Library Media Assistant, Kathi Bell to find a Circulation Report that would generate a list of the kids who had read the most books. I have one amazing kid, Miss Caroline who has read 43 books already this year! Then I would give out the keys to all the kids who have read at least X amount of books. I'm choosing 15 books because I think all of my kids can achieve that. The kids who read more are in the 20+, 30+, 40+ club and I'll put their names on that bulletin
board for recognition. Maybe even Instagram pics of the kids with their keys. Here's my friend Mr. Ben who is one of my "frequent fliers" and avid readers. I consulted with these two as I was coming up with the idea, and I'm grateful for their input & ideas.
So far, I have I guess 50 kids who've read more than 25 books to get started and I'm hoping to use these keys to encourage kids to read more! I'll let you know how it goes. So far, my investment is about $60
bucks...not that much if it makes kids read more and feel good also feel like they are part of a kind of VIP reading club in our Library Media Center! And when I buy more keys, it will only be $21 dollars more and I'll already have the stamp and the string.
I've also done like a passport where kiddos would get a stamp on a "Reading Passport" (laminated on one side only) for each TYPE of book they read. Fiction (or I've also done genres), Non-Fiction, Graphic Novel, Poetry, Science, Maker or Art book. Kids liked that a lot, but it was a bit of work.
Your Turn! What do you think? Like the idea? What have you done to promote reading?
Sometimes, when you're sharing the benefits of a professional Social Media presence, it can become
a bit bewildering and overwhelming. I get that! It can make your head swim and quickly turn intimidating, and it's easy to say "no way, not yet, not now, no how!" And you let it slide for another week, month, or year! I've been there!
So, I wanted to create a cheat sheet, an At-A-Glance Worksheet that would demystify the steps to crafting your Social Media presence with continuity across several platforms, making it easy to follow while still making sure you're not missing anything important.
I posted a rough DRAFT on Twitter via Google share, getting input from our amazing #EdChat, #TLChat, & #FutureReadyLibs PLN (Personal Learning Network) So, this is what I created!
How to be a Teacher Librarian Rock Star - Branding Tips & Tricks
First thing I gotta say, I don’t know that I really love the term Library Rockstars because I think ALL Teachers and Librarians are rock stars or has an inner rock star waiting to come out. I also think it sounds a wee bit elitist. OK, a whole heck of a lot of elitist. But who doesn’t want to rock it at their job?
(I was asked to write this for another publication - answering their questions - I did the best I could!)
To what do you attribute your success?
Work hard Be Reliable Be Reflective Be Positive
Hard work, a sense of humor, tenacity, and a stubbornly fought for positive mental and professional attitude. Yes, work hard - but that doesn’t mean being a martyr or staying in the building every night until seven o’clock. Work smarter not harder. When it comes down to it, I can be pretty lazy, really! But, I do work some nights and weekends - OK, a several nights and weekends - but that’s my choice and it’s usually from home wearing fuzzy socks & PJ’s with Bravo TV on in the background. Don’t judge me. I curate, I share, I write a little, blog, Tweet, chat, plan, dream, and strategize. Sometimes to be the best we can be takes a little extra personal PD time outside of school. It’s worth it.
Hard work, a sense of humor, tenacity, and a stubbornly fought for positive mental and professional attitude.
Yes, work hard - but that doesn’t mean being a martyr or staying in the building every night until seven o’clock.
Work smarter not harder. When it comes down to it, I can be pretty lazy, really! But, I do work some nights and weekends - OK, a several nights and weekends - but that’s my choice and it’s usually from home wearing fuzzy socks & PJ’s with Bravo TV on in the background. Don’t judge me. I curate, I share, I write a little, blog, Tweet, chat, plan, dream, and strategize. Sometimes to be the best we can be takes a little extra personal PD time outside of school. It’s worth it.
Be reliable. I’ve worked with a lot of people in my years, in a lot of capacities, and have found the one trait I really appreciate, value, and admire is reliability. That's also one trait that I try to emulate. Some people promise the world, talk a great game, but then let you down - I never want to be like that. I won’t say I will do something unless I can do it, and then I do it dang well!
When things get tough or daunting, it's really important to take stock of what's really important: the kiddos. During the summer, I take time & tide reflection - considering the things that went well last year. Lessons that inspired, projects that showed promise, and programs that popped! I also think about the things that didn't go so well and how I could improve. Sometimes though, you can't change a situation but you have to learn to graciously accept it - and then work around it cleverly.
“There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.” Norman Vincent Peale
Be positive. Happiness is a choice! Optimism, too! Sometimes it's a difficult choice, but a necessary one! Teachers & Teacher Librarians can sometimes get bombarded by the negative when they go into the lunchroom or talk with other teachers. It's important to steer clear of the Negative Nelly's, Debbie or David Downers. Strive to avoid that toxic downward spiral and commit to staying positive, professional, and upbeat. If this means you eat with only a few teachers, by yourself, our go out and drive to the closest neighborhood park at lunch, do it! We have the best job in the world and every new school year and every day is a new start and adventure! Bonus, staying positive and upbeat drives the haters and funpires crazy!
Get Mentoring & Pay it Forward. I would also give credit to a lot of the successes I’ve had with the amazing mentors I’ve had along the way. I’m looking at you Dr. Joyce Valenza, Julie Wray, and Doug Johnson! Mentorship is really important, then later - paying it forward, finding a kindred positive spirit, great natural talent, and supporting it. I’m lookin at you Tiffany Whitehead and Jennifer LaGarde - you’ve done me proud, are amazing librarians, have surpassed me in many, many ways, are a constant inspiration to me, and are now amazing mentors of your own.
Some educators wince and make a face when the subject of branding comes up. Like it’s a dirty or disagreeable subject. Consider, another word for branding is advocacy. A brand exists only in the mind of the consumer. In our case, our students, parents, teachers, staff, and community. A brand is what they think they know about your organization—driving an emotional reaction. When your audience believes in what you stand for, a loyal relationship is formed. Then it is in your hands to maintain that relationship. A brand is linked to reputation. The school’s reputation as a place of learning and your reputation as an educator. It’s best not to only rely on the results and messages left on “Rate My Teacher.com” as to what you find when you Google your name.
Branding isn’t really about finding a cute name like, The Mighty Little Librarian, The Nerdy Teacher, Library Girl, The Digital Diva, or The Daring Librarian - though I love those peeps and my name has served me well - it’s more about crafting your message and refining your professional mission.
To start, I would suggest writing a mission statement. Think about what is important, and what matters to you. Is your library and program focused on: lifelong reading and literacy, creativity, constructivist learning, making, is it future ready, brain centered, participatory, transparent, positive, and becoming a vibrant and active learning commons? Sure, use all the buzzwords you want, but mean them and be able to back them up.
When crafting a mission statement, really think about what is important to provide, every day, to better serve our most important customers - our kiddos.
You can write it in a paragraph or even make a cartoon, just define your goals. Then, I would distill that mission into a 30 second “elevator speech” that you can give at the drop of hat. People often ask me what makes me daring and I say, “because I’m a daring defender of kids, life-long reading, technology, transliteracy, innovative learning, and goofballs and geeks everywhere!”
Teaching Good - Branding EvilCreating the Daring Librarian BrandRock Star Advocacy: Proving Your Worth In Tough Times By Jennifer La GardeGet Social. Next, I would think of ways to promote the awesome that goes on in your library every day. Don’t worry that it looks like you’re showing off - you’re not - it’s sharing with the community! Don’t humble yourself out of a job and don’t hide your light under a circ desk. But at the same time, make sure the sharing is at least 90% is student or professionally focused! Because it’s not all about you - library branding and your mission should be mostly about them. Our kiddos and our community! Though, the content you share about the daring educational practices and innovations that you employ in your program and with your kids, is worthwhile, because it helps other librarians and educators, and will eventually be good for you professionally. There’s nothing wrong with being very good at your job and wanting to succeed. Just always remember to keep it kid and professionally focused. Social Media Mind Shift
“We have the power to shift the mindset of the public sector if we shout out via social media the great things that kids do in our schools,” says Tony Sinanis and Dr. Joe Sanfelippo from the book The Power of Branding: Telling Your School’s Story
Yes, I dig that! The easiest way to start branding and sharing with the community is with a professional Instagram and or Twitter account account. I use social media only in a professional sense – to share the cool things that go on every day in my school and my library, to celebrate my amazing students, and to connect with my parents, and our local and our global community. I also share the lessons and activities, reading promotions, makerspace, TV studio, that I do in school - what worked, didn’t work so much, and what flopped. Lessons learned - to hopefully help others!
In other words, I have purposefully and intentionally NOT used Social Media in any kind of personal way. For some, that might seem like a sacrifice – for me, it’s been both a blessing and sort of a relief. Though that doesn’t mean I don’t share a great sunset, a video of my nephew playing with his Virtual Reality goggles, my Mom’s fabulous Thanksgiving turkey, or a selfie reading at the beach. Sharing occasional personal content shows you’re human - and it’s good for kids to see you also have a real life.
If you’re going to only pick one, I’d choose Instagram. Our kiddos really are really not so much on Twitter (Shocking. I know, right?) and they also think Facebook is sorta fuddyduddy (though they might have one, they don't "live" there) but almost every kid I've talked to lately has Instagram!
Creating a professional Instagram account ensures that whenever cool things go on at school, I can handily snap and share them with our kiddos, parents, community, & the world! Most teachers and librarians have their cell phones with them anyway, why not get together to make it a powerful sharing tool? Connect it to your Twitter for easy Social Media cross posting! Create a sign that says: “Follow & Tag Us On Instagram!” and post it around the library so that kiddos can see themselves doing cool things! This is a positive example of how social media can be used.
Finally, as I mentioned in an article I wrote for NEA Today Magazine called - 6 Teacher Tips to Avoid Social Media Landmines know your district posting policy. Does your school district have a policy about teacher social media sharing? If they do, read it through carefully and follow it to the letter.
Honestly, the first two years at the job I would stick to the basics with only one challenge (Instagram, Twitter, Makerspace, etc.) to tackle until you get your bearings. Once you master the foundation of the job, then you can start adding the sizzle. Don’t try and do everything at once - that’s why I recommend to choose 1 Thing, that’s all it takes. Once you conquer that one thing, choose another. Otherwise, you run the risk of burning out and feeling overwhelmed.
When you’re new - admit you’re new! Sometimes I think that first year classroom teachers get all kinds of support, slack, and patience while first year Teacher Librarians have to be “on it” from get go. It’s totally OK to remind people it’s your first year and say, “Gee, I don’t know that! This is my first year and I’m learning new stuff every day, but let me research that and get back to you!” Also, in a school situation - an old school clipboard is priceless!
Every new school year I have a clipboard out on our circ desk that has a chart with column headers of: date, teacher name, room#, “How can I help you?” and resolved check. If I can’t help someone right away, (you get stopped in the hallway with an “I can’t print!”) I smile and say “I can help you with that!” but then ask them to either email you or drop by the library and put their name on the list. “I don’t want to promise to help you here in the hallway but then forget it when I go around the corner, but I’ll be sure to follow up if I have it written down in some way” [add rueful grin] This way, you don’t miss anything that’s important, you can check off as you go along, those you help and you also don’t get constantly sidetracked by the “hallway help flag-down.” Clipboard for the win! Or, as Martha Stewart would say “it’s a good thing.”
Last thoughts. Whatever you do, dare every day trying new things working hard, and doing your best. Allow yourself to bring out your inner rock star, Be reliable, be reflective, strive to stay positive (even if it kills you!), and always always keep the kiddos the main focus of what you do. Share shamelessly the awesome that goes on every day at your school and the helpful content you create so that other teacher librarians can find it just a little bit easier. Pay it forward. You will never regret being kind. These are all things that I gotta remind myself every day!
If you have any other questions about my ideas search my blog, I probably have mouthed off about the topic at some point - or hit me up on Twitter! @GwynethJones
I really created this graphic for me, to remember. Because, well...I have a snarky sarcastic sense of humor and I can be impatient and am easily irritated over stoopid stuff. So, remembering to take a breath, be kind, and practice patience is a good thing. Am I always successful? Nope. But I keep trying. And trying.
and trying again......Never stop trying! Just do your best, that's all we can really do & remember - it's NOT about US...it's about the kids.
Yeah, I made this one for me, too. But heck, aybe we could all use this! Your Turn! Hit me up in the comments with your ideas & thoughts! Thank you, as always for visiting and taking the time to read my blog! Hope you found something useful.
OK....still reading? I'm gonna be honest here. I've always said never apologize for not blogging. But this is why I've been kinda quiet. This school year has been brutal. We've had some really tragic things happen. A good friend of mine, a truly gifted, sweet, kind, wonderful, Social Studies teacher friend of mine, who I mentored when she started teaching in our school 10 years ago...she later went to high school and I missed her terribly, but she came back to help us with our plays...anyway, she went missing. Her name was Laura Wallen. We found out the 2nd day of school that she was missing. She was also 4 months pregnant. She later was found murdered. By her boyfriend. Who went on #@#$@$ TV asking for help from the public. He was arrested & is in jail now. May he rot in hell. Then, a former student of ours was shot in a drive by, in my kids neighborhood - maybe even witnessed by some of my kids who shoulnd't have been in bed. AND he was shot by another former student, AND then....another of our former students the next week - unrelated, committed suicide. It's been tough. Anyway, I probably will delete this tomorrow morning, or in a few days. But it kinda feels good to just type it out. I'm really not good with awkward human emotions. I wish I was more Vulcan. Working on it. Please keep us in your prayers. Our whole school,
This is a really nice FREE offer from our friend Katie at Capstone!*
Tis the Reading Season!
When I first heard this, I thought it was too good to be true!
I thanked her vaguely** on Twitter (unless it was a secret just for my school district) then I thought – could I possibly share it with everyone? So, I called her to double check that I could share it with you, the world, and his wife – and she said YES!
Students (and your kids!) can choose FREE eBooks from a library of over 3,200 to download & read over the break***
From Mythology, Scary Stories, Fiction, to Graphic Novels – there’s more than enough interesting titles to choose. You can even access interactive books to read to your little siblings or to your pets! (They always deserve it!)
Middle school kiddos can filter by grade level.
Below there’s even a letter to for parents (in English & Spanish) or students AND Bonus: a printable bookmark with login & password.
* this was originally posted on my Daring School Library Edublog but I didn't want you to miss out if you only visit here!
I was so thrilled and honored to have been included on this list of librarians. I shared it on Twitter, took a screenshot, made the graphic above for my Annual Report, & of course called my Mom & Dad!
But I never thought to blog about it (because, like bragging, right?) until I saw that my fellow ginger librarian and sweet friend Shannon Miller had blogged about it, so I thought - heck, why not? I'm always trying to urge other librarians to not "humble themselves out of a job." So, I'm totally shamelessly copying her right now! (At least I'm honest!)
While reading this article, I discovered several new Librarians to follow- which is always exciting! Seeing how other Librarians share the amazing things that happen every day in their schools and world is always inspiring and invigorating. This list is great for that!
On my Instagram, I try to capture those magical moments in school where kids are learning, reading, exploring, creating, making, gaming, and just having fun.
I also occasionally share a few personal moments with family and friends, but I really consider this a professional account so it's 95% library & school related. I also try not to focus on ME. Because like with teaching, it's not about US it's about them...our kiddos. First and always! On my Instagram, you'll see only a few selfies here and there - sometimes at conferences, but usually with kiddos coming back to visit. I try and focus on the kids, school events, other teachers, and always, always, I try and push the positive!
To me, Instagram and Twitter are two tools that are great to use hand in hand. So, I'll often post to Instagram and then also post on Twitter. Just like our kiddos have different learning styles, I think people have different social sharing styles - why not share wherever we can?
Your Turn! Who do you think was left off this list? Do you find lists like these helpful or elitist? What do you like to Instagram? Please share in the comments your thoughts!
Again, I was super honored to be included on this list, but I also was kinda bashful about it. But, why? Is that a girl thing or a Librarian thing? And because of that happy but cringy feeling, that's why I posted this - to push myself out of my comfort zone. But why do we do that - toss away compliments, back away from sharing great news? Hmmmm something to think about!
Here's something cool I recently stumbled upon! Just like I really enjoy the dark or reverse version of the Kindle App - there's a Night mode version for Twitter! It turns the screen a dark blue with reverse type. Both on the mobile version and the desktop.
So easy on the eyes! So conservative for your batteries! So good for the environment!
OK, so these days only one of those things above are actually true, and it's a personal choice. Yeah, apparently - you don't really need Blackle anymore.
To turn on the mobile version, tap on the home button then tap on your Twitter profile icon. On the bottom left is a little crescent moon, tap that and Voila! Everything is lovely dark!
Another cool feature here is a free QR Code for your Twitter account.
Here's how it looks!
Yes, I LOVE me a QR Code!
Just tap on that QR Code icon on the right and you'll get a QR Code - it comes up in random colors.
Tap the QR code get a different color, you can also - I've seen orange, pink, blue, green -- I love the blue so I stopped there and took a screenshot of it. You can also tap and hold and Save Photo, Tweet it, or Share it!
Ahhh...so lovely! You know I love me a QR Code! Below you'll find some QR Code posts, lessons, & ideas!
Now...for the Desktop version (Which I do LOVE to use, don't hate) I'm just never one of those people who used other Twitter clients like TweetDeck. Though I do know they're powerful and helpful in many ways - especially during live Twitter chats or conferences. Following more than one hashtag at a time. I get it. But it's not as pretty - and I'm deeply shallow.....graphically speaking.
To turn on, again, click on he home button, click on your profile picture at the top right menu, then choose Night mode at the bottom - Boom! Say Good night, Gracie! (Wow, that's really before my time but yet somehow in my memory)
Well, I hope you like that! Am I the last one to discover this? It was released in September. That's a busy month for everyone!
Merry Christmas Everyone!
Now it's YOUR turn! Do you like the reverse type? The dark mode of Kindle or mobile apps? Do you find them easier to read, restful, and comforting or do you hate it? Sound off in the comments! Thank you friends!
Say "Good Night Gracie!" ~ George Burns & Gracie Allen - YouTube
"Lamb Chops is an 8-minute American comedy Vitaphone short subject released in October 1929, which depicts a vaudeville performance by Burns & Allen of the comedy routine "Lambchops" written by Al Boasberg." - Wikipedia
I've discovered that the mix of the digital divide, possible turbulent home lives, and general teenage forgetfulness results in a loss of power. Yes, they usually admit that they fall asleep with their phone next to them and not plugged in. Shocker. It seems that some of my students who DO have devices (yes, there are still a lot who do NOT) show up to school with a low or no charge. A device that they LOVE to use for social connections and fun in the hallways and during free time. Oh yeah, and sometimes in class for learning, too! Without that device they feel a serious gap in their daily lives.
We fill that gap.
A few years ago, I was inspiredby what I saw during a visit to theHillwood High School Library in Nashvillewith the ISTE Board of Directors to support our BYOD pilot program and our kiddos by giving them a place to recharge their devices in school.
And of course that place was going to be our school Library Media Center -- shameless how I'll do just about ANYthing to get kiddos in the door.
My first two tries at this were total failures.
But hey, not every innovation turns out to be a home run, amirite? You still gotta swing for the fences! (Yeah, that's my first sportsball metaphor, friends! - W00t!) Don't worry, I'll give you the low down as to why I think they flopped below - but if you're reading just for the success (so far!) I'm gonna share that first.
Because I think we've now hit on a really easy, relatively low cost, & popular way to give my kids the power they crave and need.
Set of 5 charging lockers & delivery = $1300.00 bucks
(details & links below)
Piece of mind not worrying that kiddos will have their devices stolen or locked out on your watch?Priceless!
Kids (and staff) can request a charging device, first come, first serve anytime before 2pm. I also bought 2 flat chargers for staff to borrow. Kids come first. Always.
Kids must first show that their phone has less than 30% charge to get one. (We found at first some kids just wanted it for the cool factor)
We don't lend them out for the charging of fancy headphones - these are for devices that could possibly be used in the classroom.
Kids can borrow the charger alone or with a multi-device cord. They must initial to agree to pay for the loss or damage of the device & cord (Yeah, we know this isn't really enforceable)
We ask that kids agree not to let the device out of their sight - if they're asked to share it - we trust them to keep track of it. We also ask that kids bring back the device at the end of the day. Do they always remember? Nope! That's why we collect their last period class teacher (I, or my amazing Media assistant Kathi Bell, calls classrooms at the end of the day to get them back - or we track them down the first period of the next day)
Some days we're cleaned out of chargers within the first 5 minutes of school - I'm making a sign for our front door that says "Yes, We Have Awesome Chargers to Borrow!" or "Sorry, All Chargers Have Been Borrowed" with Bitmoji cartoons.
We also reserve the right to not lend out a charger to a kiddo who has proven to be unreliable. But that hasn't happened yet.
Don't tell my students, for all my fierceness [snaps] I'm kinda a soft touch. One of my kids told me that his mom took the only charger at home on a business trip so I loaned him the charger over night for a few days till she got back. Another kid said that they didn't have a working charger at home and had to wait
till the next paycheck to get one. I gave him one of my cords to keep but swore him to secret, I can't afford to do that every day.
Here's my high tech sign out sheet that's printed on bright PINK NEON paper & on a clipboard on our circ desk. Fancy.
My kids tell me you can get these chargers at 5 Below. I haven't tried them yet. If we lose a lot over the year, I might give them a whirl. The multi device cords are CHEAP! They sometimes stop working and can break. So far, so good though and this has been a LOT less headache than those fancy expensive charging lockers.
Want to hear what problems we encountered with those? Keep reading!
It consisted of a tall AV cart with 2 USB charging hubs and I bought a bunch of multi-ended charging cords. It was on the honor system - come into the Media Center, plug in your device, check out a book or read, and charge while you were there. Still had my disclaimer, though!
Your device, Your Responsibility
It worked great, for a long while - everyone respected the rules and "baby sat" their devices as they charged. Then, unknowingly, we had a kid leave his device unattended for a few classes and it went missing. Fail!
2. Take Two: Piloting Charging Lockers
charging station similar to what I saw in Nashville years ago. He agreed & we spent $1300 to get five lockers set up on a TV cart.
Like last time, it went great for a long while...then in the fall of the next school we got a rash of cell phones being taken by kids who knew a friends easy code (like 4444), saw it being put in, or who unwisely shared a locker.
My new (yes, another new) principal decided to move it into the teachers lounge. It stayed there for a year. And yes, I had to save a few for teachers who forgot their self-selected temporary. Read all about them here -when I was optimistic & hopeful that they would be great!
Not so great discovered truths
about the charging lockers.
No lie, they turned out to be a total pain in the butt. We had MANY, many, times where a kid forgot their self-selected 4 digit temporary code and had to use the over ride key. That was annoying.
The lockers also gobbled up batteries. The locking mechanism used AA batteries, so it was independent from AC. A few times a locker lost battery power during our after school program with a device stored inside and I wasn't around to save it with my over ride key. Which caused a couple very distraught to suffer going without until we could get it open the next day. It also caused a few parents to be mad. No one likes that!
Also, if the door gets slammed or moved, the battery pack would get dislodged and stopped working - which caused me to have to get out my Phillips head screw driver and do some maintenance.
We also had to zip tie the multi device charging cords inside the lockers - as kids liked to borrow them. A few teachers did, too! ;-) We eventually got them back, but it would slow down and hinder the next customer who needed a cord. We went though a LOT of cords.
These lockers cost about $1300 bucks. Buying info & links on my firstGot Charge? blog post. Ouch -- just checked and they're now up to $1,444 for the EDU price. Eep!
Have you fallen in love with Bitmoji yet? This fun FREE app has been around for a few years and now can be easily used to transform and animate your professional life and classroom. For those new to this app,
Bitmoji is an emoji or avatar that you can customize to look just like you (or in my case a younger skinnier version of me!) which is then automatically inserted into all kinds of colorful cartoons. You can use Bitmoji stickers as your Twitter avatar, on Snapchat stories, within Seesaw and Google Apps for Education, rubrics, within Gmail, on your blog, or for classroom or library signage. It’s also a fun way to add spice to you texting life with friends and family -- and there are at least four fab ways you can animate your edulife and use in the classroom!
DISCLAIMER & BACKSTORY: There are other avatar creators out there, I have blog posts, articles, and resource web pages that go over more than 15 of them - but Bitmoji is FREE and is, by far, the easiest one to start with. I also have to assure you, I don’t work for them, this is not sponsored or a “paid advertisement,” nor do they even acknowledge my positive Tweets or social media love, though I wouldn’t be mad at them if they sent me a T-Shirt! I used Bitstrips back in the day, and Bitmoji was created by them. A couple years ago one of my amazing MHMS Social Studies teachers, Ms. Daniller had her Bitmoji as her Twitter profile pic and I was all like "OMGosh, where did you get that!?".....she graciously shared, and well, now
1- Begin Bitmoji
With Bitmoji you can create your face, hairstyle, shape, and then dress it up, & BOOM! They're automatically put into fun cartoon stickers that are an alternate emoji keyboard on your cell phone, Chrome extension, Snapchat, and more! Even my 70 something year old Mom and Dad have them, and we use them with each other all the time. It's hilarious and a blast! Though I gotta warn you, they’re a bit addictive! Sweet Setup:
Get the FREE App by searching for Bitmoji - available in iOS iPhone and Android. Download, open the app, start designing your avatar. Don’t worry, you can easily and always change it later. First you need to choose a cartoon style: either the more anime or squished Bitmoji style or the regular cartoony Bitstrips style. You can play around with skin tones, eye colors, eyebrows, hair color and style, body shapes and even outfit styles. Keep choosing and testing until your digital doppelganger looks just like you. Once you finish, Bitmoji will automatically create an entire library of fun — and just a tad bit silly — images. Like this one of me: Add the Keyboard & Give Full Access To use these Bitmjoji's you have to add them as an additional keyboard on your phone. For an iPhone go to General Settings > Keyboards > Add new keyboard and make sure you select ALLOW FULL ACCESS, this way you can use them on your iPad's, too. For Android, Wikihow says: “Enabling the Bitmoji Keyboard. Open your Android's Settings. It's the gray gear icon in the app drawer. Scroll down and tap Language and Input. It's in the
“Personal” section. Tap Current Keyboard. Tap Choose Keyboards. Slide the “Bitmoji Keyboard” switch to the On position. Tap OK.”
While you’re texting, there are 6 categories of Bitmoji's, you select them by just touching, copying, and pasting into the text message box.
To take them from the app and to send them into your computer, you can save them to your Camera Roll, upload to Flickr, email them to yourself, or the easiest way is to insert it into a Google Doc then take a screenshot, that way you can easily edit them in Photoshop or FREE with PicMonkey. Learn how to do that here Like Bitmoji? There's an Extension for That!
2 - Savvy Signage
Once you have your Bitmoji on your computer you can make signage for your classroom or library. Think of Back to School Night signs and a classroom door welcome sign with your room number and name, or a “Place Homework Here” sign, the possibilities are endless. I created the sign here by adding the text using PicMonkey, a FREE site with creative tools for photo editing and graphic design.
Classroom do’s and don’ts signs can be so boring, Bitmoji’s really jazz them up! My friend Andrew Tyler aka @atylerlibrarianin New Hampshire, created really a neat Computer Lab sign featuring Bitmoji’s for his school! (Picture found here in many sizes) Andrew also shared on Twitter how he created a fantastic photo booth sign for his Middle School Library for Grandparents Day!
3- Fresh Feedback Bitmoji is now available as a Chrome extension that puts your cartoon avatar stickers super handy on your browser toolbar to use within Google Apps for Education, Gmail, Seesaw, and a growing list of other platforms. Getting feedback from teachers, in cartoon form, makes that feedback fun and much more personal. Super educator, speaker, blogger, and author Alice Keeler, says about Bitmoji’s: “When using digital tools try to put yourself into them to help students feel there is a teacher guiding them through the lesson. Bitmoji’s are great for adding “you” along with some personality into digital resources. Google Forms are awesome for flipped learning, formative assessment, checks for understanding, and so much more. Bitmoji AND Google Forms… the awesomeness meter here might explode.” For step by step directions, search for her blog post titled: Bitmoji Feedback in My Google Doc
Mr. Parkinson aka @ICT_MrP, a Primary ICT teacher in Britain, uses Bitmoji stickers in a rubric for writing prompts. What a great way to give kids a visual feedback for their assignments. Anything we can do to make Rubrics more approachable and useful the better!
4 - Social Sharing
Bitmoji avatars are super for sharing on social media. Whether it’s as your Twitter profile picture, on a blog, in Snapchat stories, or on Instagram - these cartoons really bring personality to any platform.
One of the coolest ideas I’ve heard lately was from Tara M. Martin aka @TaraMartinEDU called #BookSnaps. Tara shares how she takes a picture of a section of text, uploads it to Snapchat, adds a filter, re-types the quote from the book, draws arrows, writes words, and then brings in a Bitmoji to add more zip.
This is a cool way for the reader to express their connections to text with a digital visual representation. Search #BookSnaps for articles, directions, blog posts, and videos on how to join in on the fun.
But since I don't want to "friend" my kiddos on Snapchat (because, boundaries and I teach Middle School) I could see how you can do this same thing can be done using Instagram. You could also create these with Google Docs!
5- Cool Communication Leveraging the power of the FREE Chrome extension puts your Bitmoji right in your browser toolbar for easy use with Gmail and Drive. Linda Lindsay aka @mauilibrarian2, a super Teacher-Librarian in Hawaii says: “If I had my druthers, I would use my Bitmoji all the time! So I have to restrain myself. My favorite use is in Gmail (Chrome extension) to punctuate my ideas and responses to make my colleagues laugh. They're always pleased, and it makes me so happy imagining the looks on their faces.”
Our wonderful school data clerk Kimberly Walley (who has since moved schools - miss her! She the one saved teachers when our Synergy electronic gradebook went wonky or changes - she used it to transform a possibly boring newsletter to bright when directions or updates are shared with the school staff. See her graphic above!
Caution: For Grownups Only!
I have to warn you that Bitmoji’s are to use FOR kiddos and not to use WITH the kiddos. This is because some of the stickers or cartoons have to do with drinking alcohol, some have trendy bad-ish language (FML), and some are sorta flirty. Not R rated, maybe not even PG-13, but just not for kiddos in my humble opinion. Since I teach Middle Schoolers, this is right-out. Sure, some of my kiddos might have their own Bitmoji, but I’m not going to be the teacher to promote their direct use. This is for your professional classroom branding and fun.
Emojis have become necessary in recent years because they fill a gap people didn't even know they had. When texting, they add feeling to conversations and allow you to tell if someone is being sarcastic or sweet. Bimoji’s give those conversations identity and personality. Maximizing that super power of a customized and engaging cartoon and using it in your professional practice brings it to the next level. Give it a whirl, and discover more ways to use them in your classroom! I’d love to see your Bitmoji, share and Tweet them to me @GwynethJones so our cartoons can be friends!
Resources: If you’re reading this on paper, Google the title to find online & enjoy!
Sometimes you just need Art in your life, on your wall, and now on
your phone. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has a great service for you.
"The Museum has just unveiled a novel twist on the picture of the day: Smartphone users merely text “send me” plus a word or two of what they want to 572-51 and the Museum’s servers spit out a related image from the institution’s 35,000 pieces of art." - NY Daily News
Text 572-51 with the words “send me” followed by a keyword, a color, or even an emoji and you’ll receive a related artwork image and caption via text message.
It's not perfect, though. Sometimes you have to try different words to get something close to what you want.
And there's no nudity - not that I think the gallery is prudish, I can just imagine the awkward conversations with parents of teenagers.
"The nude form has been part of artistic creation since the earliest cave paintings. But people who text “send me nudes” or “send me nude woman” receive this rather unartistic response: “We could not find any matches. Maybe try, ‘Send me San Francisco’ or ‘Send me waves’ or ‘Send me something purple.’” - NY Daily News
I like to ask for colors, seasons, even artists. But remember, you'll get no old masters here - this is modern art.
(This is a mirror post to the NEA Today Magazine article online and on Pages 18-19, under a shorter title - why did they change my title? I thought it was charming! They also only used one of my graphics, don't worry, I'll cry later- silent slow tears on my pillow)
In technology (and in life!), sometimes you’re the teacher and sometimes you’re the student - and it’s completely normal to always be a bit of both. One day, you help a colleague learn the joys of the copy and paste keyboard shortcut, and the next day you’re learning how to create and edit a YouTube video or a Gabsee 3D animated Avatar!
So, whether you’re teaching or learning, or a bit of both, here are a few practical tips to make it a little easier for the reluctant tech user.
1. Make it Personal Teaching technology in isolation never works. But teaching tech with a personal twist works most every time. When a reluctant tech user learns how to do something with technology centered around a subject or topic about which they’re personally passionate, they're going to be instantly engaged to work harder at it and feel exultant when successful.
For example, when I teach anything related to digital photos, I have the teachers bring in five to ten pictures of their friends, family, vacations, hobbies, or pets. Using their own photos, I show them to import, edit, crop, resize, enhance, adjust, and then export those photos. As a final product, we bring some of those photos into a Google or Word Doc to make a captioned collage sheet for the refrigerator. All of a sudden, these teachers are motivated to try on their own! The purpose and the passion may vary, but the skills are the same and easily transferable.
2. Show & Tell Hold a Digital Petting Zoo and invite your teachers to come visit. Without any high pressure, encourage them to stroll around. Beforehand, set up each table with a different tech gadget, tablet, or laptop with a cool APP, software, or super handy website loaded.
Position a friendly volunteer to stand next to each display to casually introduce the device and show how they could transform their classroom and practice with this exotic tech “animal” Maybe start off with a fun interactive Kahoot warm upthen lead them towards a friendly PicMonkey, and end with a quick Google Form review with no more than three questions.
Step aside, hand it over, and let the teachers explore, touch, play, and try the tech device themselves without any agenda. Familiarity breeds fearlessness! Like our students, lots of us are hands-on learners. When I see something in action, I'm more likely to TRY it!
3. Small Steps Instead of long PD sessions before or after school, consider holding a Tech Tuesday, Espresso Tech10 (a fast-paced, coffee friendly 10 min tip session) or a Tech-Fueled Drive By: where you teach one tip in 2-3 minutes. Show how it works, and then let the teachers try it right away on their own. Teachable moments are winning moments! When a teacher really needs to know something, seize the opportunity to jump in with, “let me show you how to…” followed immediately by, “you will so be good at this!”
Keep it short and sweet! Teachers, staff, and administrators will respond better when you show them one tip at a time instead of everything you might know about technology. Follow up either situation with a short email with links to more information, examples, a comic, and a quick survey to help target the topic of the next Tech Tip session. "What do you want to learn next?"
Baby steppin to tech nirvana? Yeah, short and simple steps work best! To quote my Twitter friend and colleague in Texas, Jake Duncan, @duncanbilingual, “We start small. Take lessons and up HOTS/Bloom's by integrating web 2.0 tools. They see more engagement and better outcomes. Then they want to explore more ways to integrate tech. They see they don't have to teach the tools to implement them in class.”
4. Think, Pair, & Share! Once you identify those reluctant but willing teachers who are baby steppin it to a new tech future, pair them up with a colleague, friend, team member, cheerleader, or coach to learn together. Tech buddies should check in regularly with each other to share recent successes or challenges.
Brainstorming solutions or tweaking a few lessons is more fun with someone else and benefits both. Tech buddies can encourage each other and head off isolation and discouragement. According to tech leader, George Couros, @gcouros, “Collaborate with them, do coplanning & share lots! I found sharing shared reading interactive lessons to be helpful.”
5. Make House Calls Some teachers don't want to come to the library or computer lab to learn with a group of others. They might be shy, intimidated, or just reluctant to do it. Go to them! Make a house call! Bring your laptop to their room during their planning period and have a quick one-on-one session. How do you get them?
Go LOW TECH: Put tech appointment slips in the staff bathroom and in all the mailboxes. Keep the appointment and follow up!
My Librarian and tech guru friend, Jennifer LaGarde,@jenniferlagarde, says, “Meet them where they are, provide lots of scaffolded support & love! Accepting where a teacher is, treating their requests with respect and showing them how to do something (as opposed to doing it for them) is not only empowering but it also builds trust that can be leveraged the next time you want that same teacher to take an instructional risk.”
6. Let the Kids Lead Challenge students to learn the tech skills, and let them practice in class or on their own at home, the local library, or at a friend’s house. Then let them teach the teachers.
Tell teachers it‘s not just okay, but it’s great to say things like, "Hey, this is new to me, too...let's learn together!" or, "WOW...Cool! Show me how you did that!" Even better-- "How you would teach this to a 5th grader?" (Suggest any grade that is three lower than the grade they are teaching. The kiddos seem to puff up a little with confidence when teaching younger kids).
I'm never too proud to say to my kids, "Gee, I don't know how to do that. Can you please teach me?!" And really? They love to! It's a good thing.
7. Praise Them! Employ random acts of awesome! Every time you see a baby step forward, recognize and praise! It sounds obvious, but it goes a long way. We all like kudos. If you have a school electronic forum or conference, take some pics of finished projects, screenshots, links of NEW Cool teacher webpages, and share them with a Woo Hoo compliment!
Maybe create a series of badges for your school learning hub or webpage to show achievements. I know, stinkin’ badges aren't everything, but people enjoy earning prizes, badges, and geek street cred! My fellow Google Innovator, Arizonan GT teacher, Karen Mensing, @MsMensing, says, “Patience, support, & encouragement!” South Carolina Instructional Technologist, Tamara Cox, @coxtl adds, “Model the tech, let them try with no audience around, offer to be there when they try with students, and brag to admin about efforts.”
8. One Thing The last important tip is to encourage and challenge your staff (and yourself) to choose just ONE THING this week, month, or year to focus on and learn. It doesn’t matter what the time limit or duration. It doesn’t matter the tech tool or app. Don’t overwhelm with the million gajillion new tech resources that are out there. That would intimidate anyone!
Dare to try and learn one new thing. As a bonus ninja upgrade, challenge them or yourself to record the journey, the epic successes and occasional fails in a blog, journal, Instagram, or Twitter. Be a transparent life-long learner and a fearless change agent.
We can sometimes inspire others more with our failures and lessons learned than our triumphs. It’s good to share, celebrate, and to remember for next year.
Your Turn! What did I forget? Got any great practical tips to add?Please share in the comments and to me @GwynethJones on Twitter!
I need your help! I've been talking about, and personally contributing, to Donor's Choose classroom & Library campaigns but have never done one myself - Now I need you! My district won't let me buy bean bags for the kiddos to sit anymore and my old ones died. After 2 years of kiddos lounging they flattened out and sprung leaks! I have a campaign that's ALMOST fulfilled, if you could donate a few bucks I'd be really grateful! Thank you for your consideration! Makerspace Magic: The Zen of Reading & Coloring
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