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1. YALSABLOG TWEETS OF THE WEEK - MAY 1, 2015

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between May 1 and 7 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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2. 6 things you didn’t know about light

Light occupies a central place in our understanding of the world both as a means by which we locate ourselves in nature and as a thing that inspires our imagination. Light is what enables us to see things, and thus to navigate our surroundings. It is also a primary means by which we learn about the world – light beams carry information about the constituents of the universe, from distant stars and galaxies to the cells in our bodies to individual atoms and molecules.

The post 6 things you didn’t know about light appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. Making sense of mathematics

Mathematics is used in increasingly sophisticated ways in modern society, explicitly by experts who develop applications and implicitly by the general public who use technological devices. As each of us is taught a broad curriculum in school and then focuses on particular specialisms in our adult life, it is useful to ask the question ‘what does it mean to make sense of mathematics?’.

The post Making sense of mathematics appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. YALSAblog Tweets of the Week - April 24, 2015

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between April 24 and 30 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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5. 30 Days of Teen Programming: Would this ACTUALLY work? A graduate student contemplates Twitter

When the email got sent around the bloggers about doing a 30 days of programming, my mind instantly went blank. I’m just a librarian-in-training and haven’t done a lot of hands-on programming with teens. What could I bring to the conversation?

Then I remembered I did have a program. A hypothetical one that is. I’m currently taking a Media Literacy for Youth class which has been amazing. One of our assignments was to create either a lesson or program plan about a media literacy topic. It could be targeted to any age group and should last 2-3 hours. We had to write about outcomes, lay out all the activities, essentially plan it so some librarian could do it with the kids they work with.

I’ll lay out my idea and then want your feedback. Is this program realistic? Would it work with the teens you work with? And if it’s not realistic, what needs to be changed?

So…here I go!

As a twenty-something, I would say I’m pretty well-connected in social media. If someone asked what my favorite social media platform is, I would say it’s Twitter. There something exciting about Twitter when you think about it like a cocktail party (shout out to blogger Dave Charest for this analogy) — there are hundreds of conversations going on around you and you decide which ones to tap into. And our teens are using it so why not have a program that challenges them to think about not only how they use Twitter, but how others use Twitter?

The program would stretch over several sessions, with each session being around an hour. I wanted to design a program that could be amended to fit the library and the teens. So each session has a big idea and it was my hope that librarians could pick and choose which sessions to do. Here’s a brief run-down of the sessions:

  1. Twitter 101: Learn the basics. Set teens up with accounts if they don’t have one (or have dummy accounts they could use for these sessions). Talk about how you tweet, what the heck hashtags are, and how the people you follow can create a bias for the information you consume.
  2. Creative uses of Twitter: Twitter doesn’t just have to push information out to people. It can be used to write stories, tell choose-your-own-adventure plots, and even poetry. This session would allow teens to explore these various avenues and try one out for themselves.
  3. Using Twitter intentionally — how businesses incorporate social media: This would be the workshop where you could bring in community partnerships. Ask a social media coordinator for a local company to come in and talk about social media strategies. How do those companies use Twitter (it’s intentional as opposed to the ways the average Twitter user tweets). You could even ask the staff member in charge of your library’s Twitter account to either help facilitate this session, or come in to give a short presentation.
  4. Tweet chats: Explore the world of tweet chats (or when hashtags trend and become a large conversation). Have the teens engage in a tweet chat or perhaps see if another library wants to team up and have the teens from both libraries talk via Twitter!
  5. Live tweet: I see this session as the final one, but it doesn’t have to be. Have the teens pick out an event they want to go to (or suggest an event like a library or school board meeting). Have the teens create a common hashtag and have them live tweet the event. See if those tweets can get other people to join the conversation!

So…what do you think? If you want to know more about each individual session, you can check out my online portfolio where the whole plan is (it’s the first link on the page), including references for more information. Looking forward to hearing your comments!

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6. 30 Days of Teen Programming: Programming for the Platform

So, your first questions might be, “Who is this? And why is he writing here?” Good questions. Let’s start there. My name is Miguel Figueroa and I work at the American Library Association on a new Center for the Future of Libraries initiative. As I’ve begun my work over the past year, I’ve been focused on three objectives:

  • Identifying emerging trends relevant to libraries and the communities they serve
  • Promoting futuring and innovation techniques to help librarians and library professionals shape their future
  • Building connections with experts and innovative thinkers to help libraries address emerging issues

And if those objectives sound pretty obvious to you, I’m not surprised. I know that YALSA members, by the nature of your work and your audience, tend to be on trend, innovative, and outward-looking. In fact, over the past year YALSA members have been incredibly helpful in suggesting trends for me to explore, including Collective Impact, Connected Learning, and Emerging Adulthood.

Today, as part of “30 Days of Teen Programming,” I want to try to connect teen programming to an important and emerging view of the library as platform.

David Weinberg’s excellent article, “The Library as Platform,” proposed the potential for the library to serve as a platform by leveraging its data and information resources for members of the community to build from. And John Palfrey, in his forthcoming book BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google, encourages libraries to become platforms for hacking – engaging large communities of people with diverse skills and perspectives to remake libraries and their communities using the resources, information, and data libraries make available.

Given these descriptions, it may be very easy for us to think about the library as platform as belonging to the realm of the digital, the networked, or the technology-driven.

But the library as platform is also helpfully described in the Aspen Institute’s “Rising to the Challenge: Re-envisioning Public Libraries” as one of three key assets libraries possess – People, Place, and Platform.

  • The library’s People (librarians and library staff) connect users with resources and serve as conveners for learning and creation opportunities.
  • The library’s physical and virtual Place accommodates a wide range of purposes including reading, communicating, learning, playing, meeting, and doing business.
  • And the library’s Platform facilitates individuals’ and groups’ discovery, creation, curation, and sharing of knowledge and innovation alone and together.

2 Platform is the participatory environment that opens the library’s technology and resources to experts from the community with an emphasis on addressing the community’s varying and expanding set of needs. The Platform emphasizes the opportunity for users to serve and be served not only by librarians and library staff, but also by other users, a rotating cast of novices, experts, teachers, learners, and peers.

It is the Aspen Institute’s view of the library as Platform that leads me to think about programming. Programming is one of the best opportunities we have to make the library a participatory environment. Programming is responsive, hands-on, collaborative, and open. But the process of programming can also be onerous, requiring that we develop, plan, practice, promote, and execute a successful program for an assembled audience.

As others have pointed out, to develop relevant programming, it’s important to look outside the library to find out what other people know and pull those ideas into our programming. I wonder, as we are thinking about the library as platform, if relevant programming won’t soon require that we pull not just the idea but also the content, the planning, and the presentation from outside the library.

MITMediaLabPrinciples

As I do my work trying to look to the future, I keep returning to Joi Ito’s Principles for the MIT Media Lab, especially the concept of “Pull Over Push.” Ito helped explain this in an interview with Wired magazine as “pull[ing] the resources from the network as you need them, as opposed to centrally stocking them and controlling them.”

AspenInstituteReport

In a world that is increasingly networked, informed, and distributed, we can’t afford to centrally stock and control programming. In the terms of the Aspen Institute’s report, this would only utilize the People and Place assets of the library. The future, instead, might have us shift our roles toward the facilitation or “pulling” of relevant content from the community and redeploying it for the community. The expert programming librarian would then be the individual who is best able to spot knowledge, creativity, or innovation from among our users and give it a space in our library’s programming. There might be infinite opportunities available to us when we find ways to leverage all three assets – People, Place, and Platform – in their appropriate roles in our library programs.

I know that libraries are already doing this, finding ways to be a participatory platform. I also know that it is not easy. It’s a set of skills that aren’t easy to master. How are you using programming to reposition the library as platform? What are the benefits you have experienced? What are the challenges you have faced? How can we learn together? I hope you will share your thoughts in the comments section below or via e-mail (mfigueroa@ala.org). I’m excited to continue learning from my YALSA colleagues who are on trend, innovative, and outward-looking.

Miguel Figueroa works in the Center for the Future of Libraries at the American Library Association. You can reach him at mfigueroa@ala.org.

 

 

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7. 2015 Teen Tech Week Grant Winner - Alexandra Tyle-Annen

We were ecstatic when we found out that we would be receiving funding for Teen Tech Week.   We were able to plan a variety of programs that focused on programming, photography/video, and robotics.   Our goals were to:

  1. Reach teens that have little or no technology skills
  2. Grow the skill level of teens that already have a strong technology skills
  3. Have teen(s) assist with programming.

A local teen happened to be a tech wizard and helped plan and teach a few of the programs!  He was able to connect with the teen participants and many of the younger teens were in awe of his knowledge.  He was a great asset to the program and a huge reason the programs were so successful!

We were able to purchase a GoPro (along with accessories), Cubelets, and littleBits.  Along with classes, we held drop in sessions for teens to play creatively with the tools on their own.   We also encourage the teens to use the GoPro during the other programs to create videos of their projects and learning experiences.

It is truly amazing to see how all of the teens were able to quickly grasp most of the concepts.  They were able to understand everything from how numbers flow through Cubelets to drawing shapes and creating games with python!  They were able to manipulate the code we produced as a class to put a personal twist on the projects.  The most popular programs were the GoPro class and the Python 101 classes.

Due to the number of participants and the number of tools we needed to create small groups to work together on their projects. It was a great opportunity for the teens to work as a team.   Having them work in teams encouraged discussion and a new level of creativity!

We were surprised that most of the teens that participated in Teen Tech Week were not from our core group of library teens. A few of them have increased their library usage and are becoming familiar faces.   An almost equal amount of girls and boys attended the programs.

The library is planning on providing additional technology based off the teens’ suggestions and interests.  It is important to us that we find a way to have the Cubelets, littleBits, and GoPro available for teen use within the library.  We are currently reviewing different options on how to do so.

Alexandra Tyle-Annen is the Adult/Teen Services Manager for the Homer Township Public Library in Homer Glen, IL.

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8. 30 Days of Teen Programming: Engaging All Teens in STEAM: Thinking Diversely, with a Program Plan

Many libraries across the country are offering great STEAM programs for teens; but are these programs as accessible and interesting to diverse teens as we would like them to be? Teens identified as underrepresented minorities--i.e., African-American, American Indian, Hispanic/Latino, and Pacific Islander teens--routinely score below their white peers’ in math and science. It’s not about aptitude, though; it’s about whether these teens have adequate access to learning opportunities that prepare and inspire them to pursue and succeed in science, technology, engineering, and math. That’s where the library can step in with informal learning opportunities that engage all teens in STEAM.

To make STEAM programs accessible and motivating, directly involve teens in the process of “doing” STEAM. Hands-on learning is great, as it emphasizes that every person is capable of doing science. Even better is collaborative work, which allows teens to work together to create a product greater than they could accomplish on their own; this is often called “citizen science.” Hands-on activities also allow teens to prioritize the things they enjoy and find interesting in a program.

Library Landmarks Highlights Map

Program Length: 60-90 minutes

Supplies:

  • map of the library
  • digital cameras, tablets, and/or smartphones
  • cords to transfer photos to the computer
  • computer with an internet connection
  • free Google account
  • account with a web-based photo-hosting site (Google+, WordPress, and Flickr are options; talk to your IT department about the best option for you)
  • cords to connect the computer to a projector

Program Itinerary:

After welcoming teens to the program, share a map of the library. What is typically shown on the map? What would teens rather have on a map of the library to show their friends the best parts of the library? Allow teens to brainstorm their ideal library map landmarks, then send them into the library with cameras--digital cameras, tablets, or smartphones--to capture these sites. While teens are out taking photos, log in to Google and any other relevant accounts in the program space.

When the teens return, upload their photos to the photo-hosting site of your choice; make sure each photo has a static URL.

In another window, go to Google Maps. Underneath the search bar in the upper left, click “My maps.” Click the “Create” icon that pops up. Give this new map a title, then use zoom functions to focus in on the library building. Make sure the entire library is within the screen view. Add markers to the map to correspond to the locations the teens photographed. (To add a marker to the map, click the “Add marker” button underneath the search bar. Then click the mouse on the point of the map you intend to mark.) After a marker is placed, name the place before clicking the photo icon. To add a photo, paste the proper image’s URL in the “Image URL” function. Repeat this process for all of the photos the teens took in the library. Have books available for teens to browse while they wait their turn to add their photos to the map (see list below).

When the map is complete, project it onto a screen or wall so that teens can share their library landmark highlights with one another. With any luck, teens will learn about places in the library they didn’t know previously. Since the map is hosted online, share the map’s URL with attendees; they can share it with friends who may be coming to the library. Share the link on library social media, too, to give other customers a chance to explore the library from a teen’s point of view.

Books on Display:

For more information on Building STEAM with Día and the importance of making STEAM programs and services accessible and interesting to diverse youth, check out the free archive of the webinar Building STEAM with Día: The Whys and Hows to Getting Started. The full Building STEAM with Día toolkit will be available in summer 2015.

 

Amy Koester is Youth & Family Program Coordinator at Skokie (IL) Public Library. She blogs regularly as the Show Me Librarian, and she has written articles and given presentations across the country about STEAM programs and services for youth. Amy is authoring the Building STEAM with Día toolkit.

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9. We should celebrate the decline of large scale manufacturing

One of the most important and unremarked effects of the revolution in information technology is not to do with information services at all. It is the transformation of manufacturing. After a period of two or three hundred years in which manufacturing consolidated into larger and larger enterprises, technology is restoring opportunities for the lone craftsman making things at home.

The post We should celebrate the decline of large scale manufacturing appeared first on OUPblog.

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10. 2015 Teen Tech Week Grant Winner – Sarah Ryan

When I started as the Teen Services Librarian at the Hancock County Public Library in 2013, one of the first things I noticed about HCPL teens was their love for comics and manga. My desk is located next to the teen room, parallel to our comic and manga shelving. Day after day at 3:30 p.m. teens would flock to that section and take over the entire space in the teen room. Inspired, I started a monthly comic book club and anime/ manga club – which just celebrated its 1st birthday!

During our clubs, teens discuss the respective genres. Many create their own art or have started drawing their own comic/ manga panels. Numerous teens expressed their interest in making comics at the library.

Our library uses the yearly Collaborative Summer Library Program themes, and this year’s focus is superheroes. While planning for Summer Reading 2015, superheroes and villains were dancing in my head. Teen Tech Week, Summer Reading, and the wishes of our library’s teens came together and formed a program plan. The grant funds awarded from YALSA and Best Buy were used to purchase 10-Wacom Intuos digital drawing tablets equipped with comic-making software.

The goal of the Creating Comics program is for teens come to the library during weekly open computer lab hours (Monday – Wednesday, 3 – 6 p.m.) to practice and master creating digital artwork and comics. I staff the lab, so teens can ask questions about using the tablets or the software. Teen Tech Week was a great success. We had eager teens in everyday to work with the drawing tablets, and they stayed the entire duration of the program. A total of thirty-five teens used the drawing tablets during our three-day Creating Comics kick-off. Since Teen Tech Week, we’ve consistently had five teens on drawing tablets daily during open lab. We’ve seen several short comics completed and fantastic artwork. We are also in contact with local high school art teachers and STEM educators who are helping direct students to the library to give as many teens the opportunity to use this new technology. We plan on taking a drawing tablet with us to schools when we do summer reading talks to promote the Creating Comics program.

3-9-15 Creating Comics poster

Between now and June, teens can use the tablets to develop their artwork for personal portfolios and college submissions. They can also start working on their own comics. During Summer Reading (June – July) we will be running a weekly Creating Comics program where teens will collaborate with their peers to create a comic storyboard, characters, and dialogue. Together they will create weekly web-comics that we’ll publish on the library’s teen webpage.  Teens will be learning a new technology, improving their artistic skills, and learning how to work in a drawing team.Teens Creating Comics 3-16-15

These tablets give teens the opportunity to work with technology and software they will encounter in college and the professional world. This drawing lab is the first experience many teens will have to this technology. We hope to reach as many teens as we can who are interested in careers in art, graphic design, or just looking to be inspired.

We are so thankful to YALSA and Best Buy for funding our Teen Tech Week and continuing programs through the summer. This grant has and will continue to make a huge impact on the artistic growth of Hancock County, Indiana teens.

You can follow Sarah and teen updates at Hancock County Public Library on Instagram or Twitter @HCPLibraryteens. Check out our web-comics over the summer at http://hcplibrary.org/teen/.

 

 

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11. Thinking (out loud) about learning in makerspaces

I recently made an expedition to SXSWedu in Austin. I was really excited about this conference because I thought it’d be useful to me as an educator/facilitator/enabler of science and technology-based programs and projects at my library. I was looking forward to hearing new-to-me perspectives on student (or in my case teen)-centered learning; maybe I’d pick up some tips on how to help teens feel comfortable expressing their interests or how to frame  a challenging project in a manageable way or chunk it into achievable pieces. What I most hoped to do, I think, was speak with other educators about the unique challenges and opportunities of learning in a makerspace-type environment. It was a valuable experience in many ways, but not quite what I expected. (The usual caveats apply – YMMV, perhaps I picked the wrong sessions, didn’t find the right folks to network with, etc.)

As I left SXSWedu and headed for home, I reflected a bit on my experience. I was disappointed, because I had hoped to connect with experts - people who knew more than me about what I was doing. I didn’t. At a panel where I expected higher-level conversation about makerspaces and learning, I left frustrated that the conversation was ‘what is a makerspace?’ and ‘low-budget vs high-budget’ and ‘you don’t NEED a 3d printer’ instead of ‘this is what makes a makerspace special, and this is how to maximize that opportunity.’ I wanted nuts and bolts and a user’s manual, and I got Tinker Toys. As I thought more and more about what had happened, it occurred to me that if I wanted to talk about this, I ought to just start the conversation I wanted to hear. To that end, here are the questions on my mind right now, and some of my possible answers.

Question 1: What’s the best way to enable teen-initiated learning in a makerspace?

A makerspace-based learning environment is very different from the structure of classroom-based learning, and I wonder how to scaffold learning and build skills methodically in such an unstructured, come-and-go environment (or whether I should even be worrying about that).

We could provide pre-chunked modules for each tool or skill (in physical or digital format). For example, a set of Arduino-themed handout-style modules, beginning with Blink and advancing to more complicated projects. We could curate a tailored, leveled set of links to digital resources for self-directed learning, like Youtube videos, Instructables, tutorials from sites like SparkFun and Adafruit, and resources created in-house. Another option might be leveled project challenges, with resources on hand and mentors (staff and/or teens) on-site to help. For example, “program the EV3 robot to follow a line maze” with Mindstorms programming books and websites accessible, and volunteers from a local robotics team.

Question 2: How should progress be measured or tracked in a makerspace learning environment?

The first option that springs to mind is badging – digital, physical, or both. A bonus (and a drawback) of this method is the opportunity to engage an artistically inclined teen volunteer to design the badges. One major question for this method is the procedure for issuing badges. There could be an online form to fill out, though that feels disconnected and impersonal, and I know I value any chance to engage with a teen during the learning process. Staff could be the primary issuers, but that reinforces the adult-as-authority dynamic. Teen mentors could also be deputized to approve badge earning, but organizing that as a face-to-face interaction could be complicated. Would these badges stay with the badge earner, or in the makerspace? Would we need to create physical artifact to hold the badges?

Chart-based tracking is a simple, time-tested method. The information is all in one place and easily accessible, but it feels (to me) a bit internal and closed off. It could be made more accessible, however. A binder is more restricted than a Google Doc, and quite private as opposed to a classroom-style wall chart.

It could be handy to track progress on the resources themselves, especially for those teens who are looking for help learning to use a resource. Imagine a sticker on the back of a resource sheet or ‘Expert’ badges displayed alongside digital resources – the teen looking at those resources can easily see peer mentors. Privacy issues could come up here, but an opt-in system might alleviate that worry. One possible complication is the difficulty of scheduling peer-to-peer learning sessions with so many demands on teens’ time.

In addition to those questions, I’ve been thinking a bit about some of the unique challenges and opportunities inherent in makerspace-based learning.

One challenge I’ve run into more than once is a complicated first foray into learning a new tool, resulting in frustration and discouragement and eventual abandonment of the project altogether, which in turn colors the teen’s view of the tool and makes it less likely that the teen will attempt to use that tool again. I hope that providing a structure for learning new tools and skills (see: Question 1) will ameliorate the problem. In discussions with others, I’ve also heard the suggestion of leaving the project as-is, in hopes that the teen will revisit it or that another teen’s curiosity will be piqued and they’ll take up the challenge. (Tangential – should projects be marked abandoned or off-limits to limit toe-stepping?)

Some makerspace materials are disposable, but many must be reused (for example, Arduinos), but being able to show off projects is important. What’s the best way to record these projects for posterity and ensure that the maker has some artifact of their accomplishment? Video clips? Time lapse photography? And what’s the best way to store and catalog these digital artifacts so that they’ll be accessible to the makers? Should they also be publicly accessible?

 

Caroline Mossing is a Teen Services Librarian in the Teen Library at the San Antonio Central Library.

 

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12. Taking Things Apart* (*No reassembly required.)

We enjoy making things in the Children’s Room.  Catapults for rubber band balls and elaborate paper airplanes. Colorful chemical reactions. Louise Nevelson-inspired shadow boxes. Hand-sewn pillows stuffed with lavender.  Even sushi and super delicious doughnuts topped with cinnamon sugar.  But as delightful as we’ve found stirring, stitching, and sculpting–and designing projectiles of all shapes and sizes–we’ve recently discovered how much fun we can have unmaking.

For a recent pTaking Things Apart 1rogram we called “Taking Things Apart* (*No reassembly required.),” we collected old computer system units that we begged from a university IT department, where offices constantly update and swap out their CPUs.  With a few screwdrivers and pliers from around the library and a few others brought in from home, we set up the computers on card tables and gathered fourth to sixth graders in small groups around each unit.  And then we asked them to find out what’s inside.

This wasn’t an electronic scavenger hunt–we provided no specific objectives or procedure to follow.  We talked about safety, though, and reiterated our goal to disassemble the computers, not to break them.  (There’s a reason we didn’t give them hammers, after all.)  Because the power sources can occasionally hold a dangerous charge even after unplugging the computers, we showed the kids how those components are labeled and instructed them not to touch the batteries.  As they got further into the guts of the machines, we came around and removed the power sources ourselves.  And we’re proud to report zero electrocutions.

Once they pried open the computer casings, the kids required no additional prompting to explore the electronics.  They delicately unscrewed hard drives, unhooked data cables, and plucked segments froTaking Things Apart 2m the motherboard.  Many of the larger pieces have their own serial numbers, and when students wondered about the purpose of a part, we offered them a (functioning) computer to enter the number and read about the component’s use.  And they cooperated!  Passing around the tiniest screwdrivers and holding sections steady for each other, they rooted around in the guts and held out their micro-trophies for everyone else to admire.  “Can I keep this part?” one asked, over and over.   “What about this?  I want to take this piece home with me.”  (No one took anything.  Everything went to hazardous waste at the dump the following week.)

Near the end of the program, one girl who had spent half an hour dismantling a DVD drive plopped into her seat.  As I scooted over to check in with her, she set her tools down and yelled: “This is so much fun!”  So, we had no projects to take home.  And we spent the hour deconstructing and not creating.  But we definitely made a good time.

Robbin Ellis Friedman is a Children’s Librarian at the Chappaqua Library in Chappaqua, NY, and a member of the ALSC School Age Programs and Services Committee. Feel free to write her at robbin@chappaqualibrary.org.

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13. YALSA Tweets of the Week - March 27, 2015

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between March 27 and April 2 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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14. The “Activity Gap”: More thoughts on libraries and after-school programs

Back in October 2014, I wrote about a report entitled: “America After 3 PM.” The Afterschool Alliance was writing about how students spend their time after school. In it, I raised the point of libraries as hubs for after-school activities, a free spot for teens to come if they don’t have the resources or access to other after-school programs. At the end of January, Alia Wong from Atlantic wrote an article called “The Activity Gap,” which discusses the access issues students from various socio-economic classes face with participating in after-school and extracurricular programs.

Wong begins the article by comparing two different students, Ethan and Nicole, whose family backgrounds contribute to two different lifestyles and life paths. While their names have been changed, these two students do exist and were case studies in a study published in Voices of Urban Education. This national study was conducted by Brown University’s Annenberg Institute of School Reform.

Their results are nothing we didn’t already know. The article states the researchers were “alarmed” at the results, but we’ve been seeing and hearing about this growing income achievement gap for a while. I come back to the same question I raised in my October 2014 blog post: how can libraries help?

I can offer an example of a space happening in my community at the Urbana Free Library. Our library is able to offer a Teen Open Lab a couple days a week. The auditorium in the library is opened up and staff and teens set up essentially a mini-Fab Lab/makerspace/hangout area. It’s a spot where teens can come after school, hang out, or create anything from stickers on a Silhouette cutting machine, to using a 3D printer, video and audio production, or simply playing Minecraft or video games. The library has been able to provide another space for teens to go who might not have other after-school options.

Is this a great space? I think so. I visited there a few weeks back (my assistantship has a graduate student helping out at the Teen Open Lab so I went for a visit). The atmosphere was exciting. The teens seemed to be happy. They’ve reached a point in the Teen Open Lab where things are going well and they can keep thinking about where does this space go next. But, we can’t forget the process and time it took to get from point A (the teens had little space) to the idea of the lab, to the creation (and funding), and now the maintaining and sustaining. Perhaps what the Urbana Library Teen Open Lab teaches us is that we need to start having those conversations. If we look out at our community and see that our teens need a free space, we can start having those conversations about what a space for them might look like. I think it’s fine to say, “Look we have this income achievement gap and need to do something about it” but we need to do more than just say it. And maybe libraries aren’t the spot, maybe this conversation is meant for a broader audience, pulling in our education system and college admission process (which places value in extra-curricular activities and involvement outside of the classroom). What I’ve been thinking about in my community engagement class this semester is that libraries are the hub to have those frank conversations. We can open up a space to bring a community together to talk. We’ve been doing it since we first began as public institutions.

The Atlantic article does not offer many solutions and I am not sure I have many to offer either. I still think this is an important conversation to have, but we need to continue to think about the broader context and how we can help or at least provide resources to help. For additional resources on this topic, make sure to check out YALSA’s Professional Tool page on their website. Additionally, you can look at, Cool Teen Programs for Under $100, resources on YALSA’s Wiki page about Maker and DIY Programs, Making in the Library Toolkit, or A Librarian’s Guide to Makerspaces.

Do you have any ideas about how we can bridge this activity gap? I would love to hear your thoughts (or great articles to read and resources to use) in the comments below!

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15. App of the Week: Lark

lark_icon

Title: Lark

Cost: Free

Platform: iOS

Many youth services specialists will be familiar with Lark's parent site, Storybird, which enables dazzling yet simple drag-and-drop digital storytelling. Like Fridegpoems by Color Monkey, Lark, Storybird's Poetry app, is a digital incarnation of a refrigerator magnet poetry set, inspiring creativity within a finite vocabulary set as you move and reorder the words it generates over an image.

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A lightning bolt icon launches a new project. You can browse art in a gallery, search by keyword or choose a random different background or word bank by swiping left. Many of the images, alternatingly fantastical and almost unbearably poignant, look as if they were cribbed from vintage picture books. You can also use a color picker to change the colors of the words on screen for optimal artistic impact. The overall effect is quite attractive and quickly achieved.

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You can post your creations to the shared database, save it to your picture roll, and Lark has the usual social sharing components built in, too.  If you're not feeling inspired, you can browse poems, follow those you find compelling, and "heart" or comment on poems you like. You can also block and unblock users, though the controlled vocabulary makes it pretty problem-free for school use, but registration through verified email is required.

Lark is designed for iOS 7 and is compatible with iPhone 4s and later. It isn't available for Android devices or optimized for iPad. Featuring it on public devices would make for an easy drop-in program for National Poetry Month, or working with a group to generate a poem with time constraints could prove a fun contest.

Have a suggestion for an app we should highlight? Let us know. And don't miss the hundreds of other great apps in our Archive.

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16. Instagram of the Week - March 23

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

On Saturday, March 21, over 130 locations throughout all 21 counties of New Jersey participated in the inaugural New Jersey Makers Day. From public libraries and museums to businesses and schools or youth organizations, each site celebrated maker culture by hosting events that promote making, tinkering, and STEM-based learning. Presentations, demonstrations, and hands-on activities introduced attendees to local makerspaces and provided an opportunity to interact with new technologies such as 3D printers, littleBits and Makey Makey kits, and computer programming. A wide variety of workshops were offered in which participants could try their hand at making things such as light bulbs, balancing toys, jewelry, duct tape bags, robots, and sculptures as well as learn the basics of sewing, gardening, origami, woodworking, car maintenance, and more! For more information on Makers Day and to see a list of activities provided by participating sites, visit the Makers Day website: http://njmakersday.org/

Similarly, just a week prior to Makers Day, Teen Tech Week took place from March 8-14 with the theme "Libraries are for Making." Aimed at helping teens develop digital literacy skills and demonstrating the value libraries can provide for non-print resources and access to technology, this week also provides an opportunity to showcase all the library has to offer in a collaborative and hands-on environment. Many fun programs were held this year and shared on Instagram including a technology petting zoo where teens can interact with different products, using 3D pens, making solar powered cars, and a retro gaming night with older gaming consoles.

Did your library participate in NJ Makers Day or Teen Tech Week? Which types of programs and technology did you offer? How did you get teens involved? Did they volunteer and help ensure programs ran smoothly or share their interests with the community by conduction demonstrations? Did you collaborate with other local organizations or businesses? Share with us in the comments section below!

Have you come across a related Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you'd like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

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17. Just Dance @ Your Library

Teens have an amazing variety of programs at their fingertips ranging from college prep, crafts, gaming, pop trivia, anime, and much more.  What if there was a way to combine many of these elements into one activity that is not only fun, but will have amazing health benefits as well? I bet you are thinking the same thing I am: dancing. Before I go any further, some of you may think I am crazy because there is no way teens would voluntarily dance in public, especially amongst their peers. Well, I am very excited to tell you that there is actually a way to get them to dance and have fun, but it requires us to lead by example. In other words, we got to shake our money makers so teens can see just how fun it really is.

Before I go any further, I would like to discuss some rather disturbing facts. According to the American Heart Association:

“About one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese. The prevalence of obesity in children more than tripled from 1971 to 2011. With good reason, childhood obesity is now the No. 1 health concern among parents in the United States, topping drug abuse and smoking.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also states:

“The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.”

Clearly, obesity is on the rise and it is something that we should address in our programs and services. For example, are we sponsoring programs, or partnering with organizations, to prevent drug and alcohol abuse? If we are, are we addressing obesity as well? If not, it’s time that we do because teens are living in a world where body shaming and weight-related bullying is rampant. Furthermore, teens literally live in a digital age where video games are much more popular than physical exercise.  If we care encouraging teens to exercise their minds with books, why can’t we encourage them to exercise their bodies as well?

This is where we talk about dancing. Dancing is an amazing way to lose weight, feel great, and have fun. How can libraries provide teens with access to physical activity that will appeal to teens? It’s called Just Dance.

Just Dance 2015 Wii UJust Dance 2014 XBOX 360Just Dance 4 PS3Just Dance 3 WiiJust Dance 2 Wii

 Just Dance a is video game (available for the Wii, Wii U, Playstation and XBOX) where teens can dance to their favorite songs and sweat the pounds away. Yes, we can actually use gaming as a way to get teens to move.  In regards to the game, itself, it is fairly intuitive where it requires users to take a minute to explore menu options. I will say that the Just Dance games vary in content where some offer warm-up segments, cool down segments, goal-setting, account settings, and the “Sweat” mode.   As an avid Just Dance user, the “Sweat” mode is AWESOME! Although it does not offer a multi-player option, one teen can lead a timed workout (20-40 minutes) and everyone will sweat. Otherwise, I highly recommend the dance crew and battle mode where teens can have a dance off or dance together.  There is a suggested calories counter, but, be honest with the teens, and explain it’s not accurate whatsoever; all that matters is they are meeting their daily exercise quotas.  The more teens dance, the more stars/points they get to open new modes and songs, which include workouts that include mash-ups and new battle modes. Some of the newer versions offer exclusive modes such as Party Master and an option to complete with other Just Dance players from the entire world called “World Party” providing you have an internet connection.  As I mentioned earlier, teens don’t need to be expert dancers because it’s all about moving, sweating, and having fun.

Now that we know there is a way to get teens to move, the next big question is: what if teens don’t engage in this program because they don’t want to be the only ones dancing?  My answer is: we have to be the ones to show them that’s it okay dance even if we can’t. I know that some of us aren’t the most coordinated, or just plain out of shape, but, if we want teens to have fun, we have to show them how. In fact, I have challenged a group of teens to beat me in a dance off and, so far, only one teen has. After hosting several Just Dance parties, I have seen so many teens come out of their shells because they recognize this program as a way to cut loose without having to be embarrassed by their lack of rhythm or being picked on. In fact, I have seen several teens show off their mad skills and it was so much fun! Bottom line:  Just Dance is all about having a good time  and getting into shape.

If you have a gaming system at home, or at your library, go to Gamestop and buy a used copy and give it a shot. In fact, host a Just Dance party with your colleagues and have a great time because once you try it, you will have a hard time stopping. Take it from me: I lost ten pounds from dancing in my living room a couple times a week so imagine hosting a Just Dance party every week?  Not only will you have happy and healthy teens, you will shed a pound or two as well! It’s a total win-win situation!

Sources:

1 http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/HealthierKids/ChildhoodObesity/Overweight-in-Children_UCM_304054_Article.jsp

2 http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm

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18. Young Children, New Media & Libraries Infographic

Young Children, New Media & Libraries Survey

Young Children, New Media & Libraries Survey (image courtesy of ALSC)

Between August 1 and August 18, 2014, 415 children’s librarians responded to a survey of 9 questions concerning the use of new media with young children in libraries. The survey was created as a collaborative effort between Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), LittleeLit.com, and the iSchool at the University of Washington. Preliminary finding are available through an infographic created by ALSC’s Public Awareness Committee.

You can download a copy of this infographic from the ALSC Professional Tools site.

The post Young Children, New Media & Libraries Infographic appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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19. 2015 Teen Tech Week Grant Winner - Lindsey Tomsu

In 2012 the Teen Advisory Board received a grant from the Nebraska Library Commission (NLC) of $1,900 to start a Teen

Media Club to give teens a chance to learn how to create digital content. Many of my teens do not have access to basic

technologies. The library’s computer lab does not have filters so you must be 17 to enter which means that our

community’s teens that do not have access to computers outside of school can’t even use the library’s resources. Many of

my teens do not have Internet at home, have outdated computers that seem to freeze all the time and not connect to the

library’s wireless, and many do not have smartphones.

 

The goal of Media Club was to use technology to enable teens to create such things as book trailers and the creation and

maintenance of a teen library website. The original NLC grant funds were used to purchase an HD Digital Recorder, a

laptop for the teens, and various props for their videos. While there still is a lot of interest in Media Club we realized that

just having a camera and a laptop was not enough. As we went about beginning to create, draft, and record various video

projects we learned that we really need certain other tech equipment to properly be able to run our club. We discovered

this after a large-scale project (La Vista’s Next Top Project Snazz Maszter—a “reality” show cross between America’s

Next Top Model and Project Runway) which we filmed during a 17-hour lock-in (filming all 17 hours!) and discovered

afterward that a lot of the film was unusable. Our library has 20-foot ceilings and the sound on most of our film was barely

audible because of echoes. We also realized free film editing software can’t do things like green screen effects. The teens

decided they wanted me to apply for a YALSA/Best Buy Teen Tech Week grant for funds to be used toward the purchase

of the additional equipment we need to get Media Club properly equipped and off the ground again.

We are using the funds as a launching point for the new and improved Media Club. One of their large-scale goals they are

planning to do for TTW is the creation of a sketch show a la Kids in the Hall. During TTW we plan to offer programs that

range from a workshop for the teens to brainstorm their sketches and work with groups, a time to rehearse, a time to learn

how to use the filming equipment, a time to do the actual filming, and a time to learn to use editing equipment, and then

time to edit the film together. The great thing is that this is not just a one-time only program where the funds will be used

and the equipment expended. As a re-launching point of Media Club, we have been given the ability to revive interest in

Media Club and actually get it off the ground this time and continue it (whether through more sketch show “episodes” in

the future or better book trailers and other digital programs) indefinitely.

 

Many of my teens have gotten their first experiences with film creation equipment at Media Club. Their teachers are now

requiring mandatory exercises that need access to smartphones, laptops, and film making equipment that the teens do

not have access to outside of the classroom. With our Media Club they not only get to learn how to build and maintain a

teen library website, but also how to use the HD camera, how to film digital content, and how to edit it into something

watchable. We also recently started a Teen Makerspace, and the teens are interested in the possibilities of incorporating

the digital content creation of 3-D printing with possible filming opportunities.

 

Media Club is using the YALSA Best Buy Teen Tech Week grant funds for the purchase of a high-quality green screen kit

(with lighting), a high-quality boom mic kit, professional video editing software, a tripod for our camera, and, if we have

any funds left over, additional props for their videos.

 

You can see some of the videos that the teens have created in the past on our YouTube Channel, TheTabblerTeens,

here: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheTabblerTeens/videos?view=0

 

I highly recommend our “Dinosaur Book Trailers” of which we have filmed six so far. Now that we have been awarded a

TTW grant we know there will be more videos for us in our future!

 

Lindsey Tomsu has been the Teen Coordinator of the La Vista Public Library since 2009. Lindsey and her dedicated Teen Advisory Board members have brought in more than $10,000 in grant funds over the years to make the La Vista teen program one of the most active in the area.  Their overall goal is world domination—in a nice way of course!

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20. Tag Galaxy Weather Studies

At this time of year, weather is the perfect multidisciplinary study. Weather is on everyone’s minds, whether you’re facing winter storms or signs of spring. There are perfect literature options like mythology about weather gods or parables and poems about the wind, plenty of science topics connect with weather and each one brings in math, and weather phenomena have inspired music, too.

Here’s a lesson that makes a great introduction to any unit on weather.

Visit Tag Galaxy to begin. You’ll have a place to type in your first word: weather.

tag-galaxy1

Soon you’ll see a swirling collection of planets labeled with related words.

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Click on the “sun” to see images from FlickR brought together to create an amazing graphic.

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You can bring in more images, and you can also explore each of the “planets” in this way, discovering more words and more images. You can click on any picture to see it more closely — here’s a beautiful image from “rain”:

tag-galaxy7

Tag Galaxy can be mesmerizing, and it rewards exploration. Show it first on your class projector and let everyone ooh and ahh for a while. Then let students explore the tool on their own computers.

Here are some ideas of what to do next:

  • Have students list the words they find that relate to weather. Let students write individual words on cards or cut outs and hang them from the ceiling or post them on a bulletin board.
  • Ask students to choose a word and then an image to use as a writing prompt. There are thousands of choices, so everyone should be able to find something inspiring.
  • Making a globe from photos in real life would be a big job, but you can make a smaller version easily. Have students print out, draw, and/or cut out pictures of weather. Use a round template to make circles from the pictures, and then a triangular template to fold in the edges. Connect the edges to form a sphere, as shown for the “Disco Ball” ornament at this paper craft page.

At this point, your class should be excited about weather and ready for some learning!

The post Tag Galaxy Weather Studies appeared first on FreshPlans.

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21. 2015 Teen Tech Week Grant Winner - Lana Nix

This is my 2nd year of being a media specialist so this is my first go around with Teen Tech Week.  We have come up with about 17 activities at Chestatee High School for our students to try their hand with at learning.  Some activities are limited for just a few students to be working with at a time like the Spheros, Exofabulatronixx Robot, slow motion animation, Makey Makey, K’nex, Chaos Tower and littleBits.  These items will help our students to learn about coding, building, circuitry, and video making.  This allows our students a new opportunity to learn something or to further their knowledge of a passion they already enjoy.  We received the grant from YALSA and Best Buy and we were able to purchase Spheros and an Exofabulatronixx Robot.  Both of these items will help our students learn the skill of coding.  The Sphero is merely a remote controlled ball in which they can program its movements.  We hope to incorporate the Sphero and coding into a math course next year.  Teen Tech Week will give the students the first glimpse of what they can accomplish with such a simple tool.  The Exofabulatronixx Robot is one in which our students can put together and take apart and put together in a different form again.  Its pieces connect by means of magnets.  When the students have finished creating their robot, they are then able to create a program which will tell their robot what path to take.

We also have activities that anyone can complete even from home should they not have enough time at school.  Choices include: create an avatar, create READ posters, create with thinglink.com, join Twitter and follow our media center and school Twitter accounts, create infographics at piktochart.com, create music with ujam.com, create book trailers, spend an hour with code.com, or create QR codes with books in the media center.

There are many activities that every student should be able to find one within their interests.  Those that master a task early will be asked to share their leadership in showing new students how to complete activities or can move on to another activity.

In trying to make sure that all students have the opportunity to enjoy Teen Tech Week, on the last day, we have asked our self-contained special needs classes to come to the media center at the beginning of the day.  We will pair them up with a student from our Education Pathway course to work on at least one activity together.  The students from the Education Pathway course are those students who are considering becoming an educator themselves.  Students helping students . . . now that is going to be GREAT!

When students have finished their activities, they have been asked to share what they created.  We have scrolling announcements at Chestatee High School and pictures of the students working will be shared through these announcements as well as sharing the finished project.  READ posters will be voted upon and the top five will be printed in large format to post throughout the school.  Avatars will be posted to see if the students can guess which student it looks like the most.  Book Trailers will be added to the media center website.  Videos of the students playing and learning with the Spheros, Exofabulatronixx robot, slow motion animation, and Makey Makey will be shown on the media center website as well as the school SupeTube website.  The K’nex and Chaos Tower will remain on display in the media center for students to watch physics in motion.  There will be a place for everyone to view our students’ creativity in one way or another.

Teen Tech Week will introduce new web tools to our students.  By introducing these tools, our students will be able to see ways to incorporate them into the classroom with projects they have been asked to create in their different courses.  These will be new avenues for them to share their innovative minds and it will allow them different outlets to express their own creative thoughts.  Students see cool tools to play with, but for an educator we get to witness the behind the scenes work of what they are actually learning and comprehending.  The true hidden agenda behind the cool toys!

Lana Nix has 9 years in the education field and is currently in her 2nd year at Chestatee High School as their media specialist.  Chestatee High School is in Hall County, GA.  You can follow her on Twitter @wareaglesmc or visit the media center website at wareaglesmc.weebly.com.

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22. 10 Ways to Use Instagram in the Classroom

Think there’s no need for sepia-toned filters and hashtags in your classroom? Don’t write off the world of #selfies just yet.

Instagram is one of the most popular social media channels among generation Z, or those born after 1995 and don’t know a world without the Internet. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that this is a generation of visual learners and communicators, where sharing your life-from the food you’re about to eat to your thoughts about anything and everything-is a part of your everyday routine. So, why allow Instagram in your classroom?

For starters, preparing students to be college and career ready involves helping them build their digital literacy skills on a professional level, and Instagram is a technological tool that offers educators innovative ways to motivate and engage students, opening up a new platform for collaboration, research, and discussion. Secondly, we all know the importance of interest and ownership for getting students excited about learning, and since your students probably already love Instagram you’ve already won half the battle.

Teacher/Classroom Instagram Accounts

Create a private classroom Instagram account that you control and instagramcan use to connect with your students, their parents and guardians, and other grade team members. Invite them to follow your account and catch a glimpse of your everyday classroom moments and adventures.

  1. Student of the Week: Each week, feature a different student on the class Instagram account, posting photos-with their permission- of their favorite classroom projects and other examples of their hard work and achievement. This is a fun opportunity to highlight your students’ individual strengths, positively reinforcing their behavior and progress.
  2. Daily/Weekly Classroom Update: Similar to student of the week, you can instagram your students’ classroom projects and activities on a daily or weekly basis. From photos of new classroom reads to capturing field trip memories, this is an excellent way to build a sense of community while allowing parents to see what lessons, topics, and exciting activities are happening in your classroom. This is also a great way to easily and quickly share your classroom ideas with other grade team teachers.
  3. Student takeover: If you’re not able to encourage students to create their own individual Instagram accounts, invite each student to “take over” the classroom account for a day or week by sharing photos from his or her everyday life. This is a great opportunity for students to learn more about their peers by instagramming their interests, hobbies, routines, and even cultural traditions.
  4. Photo Inspiration: Finding inspiration to write can be one of the most difficult parts of the writing process. Spark your students’ imaginations and help them discover new ideas through instagramming writing prompts by playing with different angles, perspectives, and filters to capture random moments and objects that you encounter throughout your day-to-day.
  5. Caption That! For a variation of the writing prompt, post an interesting photo and ask your students to write a descriptive caption in the comments. Differentiate how challenging this task is by asking students to write their caption using specific sentence types, different parts of speech, clauses, prepositional phrases, and their current vocabulary words.
  6. Daily challenges: If your students are able to follow the classroom Instagram account on a regular basis, you can use it to post daily challenges in the form of visual word problems, review questions, and bonus questions. Instagram photos of important learned concepts and pose questions to your students in the caption, asking them to write their answers in the comments. For example, this fifth-grade teacher used Instagram to review who Henry Ford was and other important events in history.

Student Instagram Accounts

Asking your students to follow the classroom Instagram account with their personal accounts is one, highly unlikely, and two, probably not the best idea. What you can do is ask your students to create additional Instagram accounts that would only be used for school or classroom purposes. You know how LinkedIn is your professional Facebook? A similar idea applies here.

  1. A Day in the Life: Challenge students to assume the role of a classroom longfictional literary character and share images that he or she believes the specific character would post, highlighting the character’s interests, personality traits, and development throughout the story. The 15-second video option is a great way to really let students get into character through recorded role-playing and even performance reenactments. These activities can also be applied to important figures in history, such as the creator of Honda, Soichiro Honda, or jazz musician, Melba Liston.
  2. What the Kids are Reading: Students can snap photos of their favorite reads and write a brief 1-5 sentence review in the caption. To take it a step further, ask them to record 15-second long persuasive book trailers to hook their peers. Boost further discussion among your students by asking them to comment on other book reviews and book trailer videos to share their opinions. Tip: Encourage your students to use a unique #hashtag (ex.: #SMSGrade4Reads) for each book review posted, and by the end of the year you will have a visual library of all of the books your class has read.
  3. Math Hunt: “Why do we have to learn this?” “I won’t need this in my everyday life.” Sound familiar? Help your students see the real-world math applications all around them by sending them on a hunt to document or illustrate their knowledge of different math concepts:
  • Geometry: lines (parallel, perpendicular, and intersecting), angles (right, acute, obtuse, etc.) symmetry, and three-dimensional shapes (prisms, cubes, cylinders, etc.)
  • Everyday fractions and arrays
  • Concepts of money
  • Examples of volume vs. mass, area vs. perimeter
  1. STEM Research: Students can watch, observe, and record science experiment data and results over time by documenting any step-by-step process with photo and video narration of learned science concepts. Outside of the lab, students can use their Instagram accounts for observing science in nature or sharing their own scientific findings. What makes this special is how quickly and easily students can share and revisit their visual references and recorded data.
  • Physical & chemical changes
  • Weather patterns and phases of the moon
  • Animal adaptations
  • Habitats in nature

Note: Instagram, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Snapchat, has a minimum age limit of 13 to open an account, but according to Instagram’s parents’ guide, there are many younger users on Instagram with their parents’ permission since you don’t have to specify your age. Always check with your school’s administrator and obtain parental permission before sharing photos of students or their work.

Know of any other interesting ways to use Instagram or other social media sites in the classroom? Already using Instagram in the classroom? Let us know in the comments!

veronicabioVeronica has a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.

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23. Cultivating Creativity: Technology that encourages learning about art

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. - Pablo Picasso

Two of my favorite types of programs to offer at the library are science and art programs. Many times I find the boundaries between the two blurring, discovering connections between the two areas. That’s probably why I loved adding the “A” for art to STEM to form STEAM (a movement started by the Rhode Island School of Design: http://www.risd.edu/about/STEM_to_STEAM/).

Pointillist style paintings of eyes

A 6th grade class used art to explore how the eye mixes colors that are adjacent to one another.

Children experience deeper learning about science through creative, artistic activities and correspondingly, discover more about art through the lens of science (think about light and the Impressionists, Georges Seurat’s scientific approach to pointillism, Vermeer’s use of the camera obscura.) So I’m adding a little art into your Pi day today!

Children are, as Picasso noted, natural artists. For preschoolers, scribbling is a first step toward writing and drawing.

hands pasting paper onto a mural

Preschooler and parent work together to glue shapes onto a mural.

Cutting with scissors, pasting and gluing, molding shapes with playdough, and scribbling all help to develop those fine motor skills that will be needed in school. Learning to appreciate art can be a bit more challenging, but something that can be encouraged. I didn’t take an art history class until college, but with online opportunities offered through Khan Academy and the Google Art Project, among others,  kids can explore art quite closely these days even if they live far from a large city with a major art museum. These sites also can develop vocabulary for talking about art. Experience with story is helpful in appreciating art, and it works both ways — children can learn about stories through art, and their knowledge of story and history can help them to understand and appreciate art.

Below are a few technological resources to support your exploration, to encourage you to help create a culture of art at your library. Hopefully these will be considered as starting points and as extensions for other activities, for there is no substitute for messy, hands-on creative activities or for an actual museum visit where you see a painting and think: “Wow! I didn’t know it was so big!”, experience a sculpture in all three dimensions, or wonder at the movement of a mobile.

Background Knowledge & Virtual Museum Visits:

Khan Academy

Web, free

From the main page, under “Subjects”, choose “Arts and Humanities” and the second heading is Art History. You might begin with the basics or try “Why Look at Art?

There are lots of great videos and resources included here. Preview videos before showing them and consider the ages and sensitivities of your audience (no fig leaves!)

Google Art Project

Web, free

Zoom in on some objects and be amazed at how close you can get — close enough to see brushstrokes. So close that if you were in a museum, the guard would likely be coming over to talk to you!

Playing with art:

NGAKids, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

iPad, free

Explore different paintings in the collection with different interactive experiences.With some activities children will gain familiarity with the work of art: for example, adding boats, figures and changing the light of a seascape before setting it in motion. In other activities they will create their own work in that artist’s style, as when they blend rectangles of color like Mark Rothko. Their works will be saved in an online art gallery and can be shared with parental permission.

MoMA  Art Lab, Museum of Modern Art, New York

iPad, free

Explore different artworks with engaging activities — for example, try to make mobile a la Calder, though it can be tricky to balance it just right.  Or “Draw with Scissors” and create a collage in the manner of Matisse. You can also choose a blank canvas to begin and create a completely original work with the tools provided.  Children can create art they can save and share, and get a smattering of art history along the way.

Lazoo: Squiggles

iPad, free

For the preschool age, this app is a fun early literacy tool to encourage pre-writing and fine motor skills. It is easy for young children to use themselves, open-ended and responsive to a child’s touch. After children make squiggles to the cartoon drawing they press “go” and the picture becomes animated. The more squiggles the artist makes, the more exciting the result.

For more apps that encourage creativity, see the recent Common Sense media guide:

“Modern Kids Guide to Creativity (to Crafting, Coding, Composing and More)”

which features many apps and games to encourage creativity. The guide offers detailed content reviews, recommended ages, information about in app purchases and ability to share with social networks. Some are low cost or free, while a few DS games are $30.

Additional Resources:

“The Art Room” by Heather Accero, ALSC Blog, Sept. 17, 2013. http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2013/09/the-art-room/

“Library as Art Gallery” Karen Choy, ALSC Blog. May 29, 2014. http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2014/05/library-as-art-gallery/

Library as Incubator Project. http://www.libraryasincubatorproject.org/

Making Art with Children blog from the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. http://www.carlemuseum.org/blogs/making-art

“Meet Art” by Heather Bentley-Flannery. Jan. 27, 2015.  http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2015/01/meet-art/ – describes a great Matisse program

“Meet Art: Creative Hands-On Art Programs” by Heather Bentley-Flannery, ALSC Blog, Oct. 30, 2013. http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2013/10/meet-art-creative-hands-on-art-programs/

Robin L. Gibson is a Youth Services Librarian at the Westerville Public Library in Westerville Ohio and member of the Children and Technology Committee.

 

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24. 2015 Teen Tech Week Grant Winner - Tricia George

YOUmedia Hartford is a digital learning and maker space for teens ages 13-19.  The space is a research-informed, informal learning environment utilizing principles of connected learning, the HOMAGO learning theory and positive youth development.  Students come to Hang Out, Mess Around and Geek Out in content areas that include video and photo production, music production, game design, computer programming, design and making.  Through partnerships with local artists and professionals, businesses, schools and other informal learning spaces, students discover new opportunities and build knowledge and skills in areas of interest.  For instance, this coming summer students will work with award-winning producer Quadeer Shakur to produce, distribute and market a Best of Hartford Hip Hop album.  Others will work with a local botanist to build a hydroponic window garden from recycled materials.  Still more will enter 3D modeling, design and film contests under the guidance of our mentors.  Hundreds others will seek help with homework and personal projects, meet new friends and attend social events.

For Teen Tech Week the YOUmedia Hartford staff wanted to get out of the library and into classrooms, and so we did!  Through partnerships with several local schools we were able to take e-textiles and stop motion animation workshops on the road.  The projects showcased the variety of activities available at YOUmedia and to expose students to the processes behind some very fun and practical technologies.  These workshops also acted as carrots to attract new youth to the space, so that they might find themselves immersed in a resource-rich environment, staffed with knowledgeable mentors and full-to-the-brim with other young people exploring similar pursuits.  All of the materials used for the workshops are available freely to any youth in the space.

BoyAtDoor

We also wanted to strengthen our ties to schools and connect with teachers who might champion the YOUmedia cause - to help young people explore, discover and pursue a metier of their choosing.  Youth respond positively to trusted adults who recommend they pay us a visit.  Through this work, we're strengthening our network of schools and teachers, thereby increasing the number of youth who utilize YOUmedia resources to reach personal, academic and career goals.  This network, and the reach they afford us, increases and improves our impact.

We are so grateful to YALSA and Best Buy for making Teen Tech Week an amazing success.  We look forward to welcoming new youth into the space and to nurturing our relationships with teachers and administrators.

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Tricia George is the YOUmedia Manager at Hartford Public Library.

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25. 2015 Teen Tech Week Grant Winner - Lockport Public Library

When the Teen Tech Week grant was written, it was hoped that we could get teens interested in more library programs. Teens will show up to use the computers to chat with friends and watch internet videos, but mention digital literacy or STEM/STEAM and they’ll look at you like you’re an alien. Don’t get me wrong; our schools are hardworking, Title I schools that strive to teach students what they can. But a rural area of Lafourche Parish is not really at the top of the list for the fast paced information technology industry.

Like any library in the country, we know we have to get them young or we lose them until they’re adults. And without many options they’re not going to stay in this area. The public library still has that stereotypical “the library is where the losers hang out” view to contend with among the teens. Our programming has to be unusual to get them in. We all know video games are always a popular draw. I’ve used free programs like Scratch and Kodu with them before. But the funds and resources to host a large scale video game design program were simply beyond our scope before now.

It’s been a week since we started our Teen Tech Week Game Design Camp and it’s going better than we could’ve hoped for. Nine teens started making their RPG video game the first meeting, and more have promised to join over the weekend to catch up. We have a mix of teams, partners, and independent game designers working away. Most have chosen to show up daily to work on their game instead of spending time on Facebook and YouTube. Quite a few of the college bound highschoolers have asked about degree programs in computer animation and the gaming industry. They had no idea the library was capable of offering so much for them to enjoy. Some of them had never visited the library before. They regret that now.

By the end of the month, we hope to have ten games for patrons to beta test that were designed by our teens. The minimum assignment is to create four maps for players to explore, playable characters, and an enemy encounter. If any of them will have a fully created game by the end is questionable, but somehow I don’t think I have to worry about them not reaching the minimum.

Leaving the library before closing is another question.

 

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Kristen Angelette is a branch assistant at the Lockport Public Library in the Lafourche Parish System. She works with teen programming, grant research, and graphic design.

 

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