February 3

Star Wars and the Hour of Code

Murray Hill Middle School has been supporting coding, creating, & robotics for years – so when the National Hour of Code week was announced we were stoked to support and join in! This year’s theme tapped into pop culture and the latest Star Wars frenzy and as long time fans of the franchise were were saying “Yes, Please!”

I had an offer to buy an early release of the Sphero BB8 – so I nabbed one for our school (don’t worry parents, I used my own money! lol) Kiddos LOVE BB8 – check out our Vine Videos showing kids in action learning how to program and run BB8!

Hour of Code week may be over but it’s never to late to explore how cool it is to learn computer code and have fun with it. The links to games and coding challenges are below!

Corralling BB8 in Mr. Dunbar’s room with our Robotics Team!

Hour of Code Themes

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Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code

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Explore a Minecraft world through Code

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Angry Birds – Games 1-11 (2014)

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Plants Vs. Zombies Games 12-20 (2014)

December 14

The Zen of Coloring

 

There’s a NEW! feature in our Library Media Center Makerspace area!

It’s Coloring!

I have to admit when I first heard about how coloring books for adults and teens are all the rage, I was a bit skeptical. Then I saw the beautiful new coloring books with loopy, fabulous, mesmerizing line drawings and I was sold! I also just like the smell of a new box of Crayons!

I then did some research on the Zen of Coloring and found out that teens find coloring very relaxing, meditative, and stress relieving – perfect for middle school! I also think in this world of multi-tasking, coloring keeps our hands busy and let’s our mind wander free- it’s also related to another hot topic mindfulness.  I know that when I’m in a group setting without technology, say a staff-meeting, a conference, or a lecture, I find myself doodling and making line drawings.

So, I got permission from our principal Mr. Wasileswski and bought a variety of coloring books, a huge box of Crayons, and a passel of colored pencils. I tried to get a good mix of coloring books – for boys, girls, grownups, and also appealing to the rich multi-cultural tapestry and different interests that make up our student body.

Star Wars, Minecraft, Dragons, Ocean, Hispanic & Celtic heritage, Indian Mehndi henna designs, Afro and Luv My Curly Hair designs… a cornucopia of creative coloring books! See?

After a few weeks, I did find that we had to have some guidelines for the coloring corner – I don’t like to call them rules! (Teachers & School Librarians: You may want to read the more “How To”  blog post here on my professional blog)

Some of the guidelines are: claiming a page, sharing a page, giving us permission to Instagram or blog about the artwork & most important – not tearing out the pages. Because there are designs on the other side of the page and that would just wasteful and not fair.

Download the High Rez or poster version of this for your class or Makerspace. Click to see all sizes! All Creative Commons, Take, Use, Share!

Coloring Bookmarks!

Want some FREE Coloring Sheets to Download? We’ve got you covered!

From the website:

Download Many Sizes Here:

As seen above – used with permission from Dawn Nicole

Get More! FREE Printable Bookmarks

Winter Bookmarks Coloring Page | by Dawn Nicole Designs

Don’t believe coloring can be good for you?

Here’s some of the cool research I found!

“There are plenty of studies on the effectiveness of art therapy in reducing stress, and coloring seems to offer some similar benefits, as William Brennan wrote in this magazine when he noted the coloring books’ particular popularity in France. And doodling is a way for people to organize their thoughts, and focus. Coloring offers that relief and mindfulness without the paralysis that a blank page can cause.”  – Julie Beck of The Atlantic

Coloring has also been used to “gently ease veterans suffering from PTSD into art therapy. (5)”  One study on college students found that “coloring pre-drawn patterns significantly reduced signs of stress and depression. (6)”  Coloring before bedtime can even help you sleep!” (7)

“One of the first psychologists to apply coloring as a relaxation technique was Carl G. Jüng in the early 20th century” reports the Huffington Post.

2D Mandala Flickr CC Computer by RunnerFrog

“Mandalas are concentric circle drawings that originated in India and mean “sacred circles” in Sanskrit. (10)  Buddhist temples, Muslim mosques, and Christian cathedrals all incorporate mandalas into their architecture.” – By of BeBrainfit

Mandalas and similar circular or spiral designs are thousands of years old. Look around and notice how abundantly the circular pattern of the mandala appears in our environment. You can see this geometric shape in all aspects of life. The sun in the sky, the nucleus of the cells in the body, and the unique design of a snowflake.

Kids are loving the coloring! Boys, girls, and grown-ups!

Now it’s YOUR turn! 

What do you think about coloring for teens and adults? Please share your thoughts in the comments!


Resources:

Zen and Anti stress | Coloring Pages for Adults

Anti-Stress Coloring Books for Adults: The Latest Way to Relax

Mindfulness and the Popularity of Adult Coloring Books

How Colouring Books Are Helping Adults Beat Stress

November 2

Edgar Allan Poe Museum
& Haunted SMART House!

Welcome to the 2015 Edgar Allan Poe Museum

& Haunted SMART House!
WARNING! This post will probably take a while to load because there are all kinds of cool embedded Vines, Instagrams, & Tweets! This post also might be a bit scary for our younger readers – read further at your own risk! To hear a Vine video remember to click on the microphone in the top left of the embed.

Last year I blogged about how the 7th grade team rocked this amazing interactive museum, display of student artwork & projects, and haunted house experience! This year it was even better! Partly because Amazon was watching & Amazon cares about kiddos!


Out of the blue I got a direct message or DM on Twitter saying that they had seen my blog post There’s an Echo in our Library with our Vine videos about our Library Amazon Echo & wanted to invite us to participate in as special Haunted House Campaign. Since we were planning to do the Poe Museum again anyway we jumped on board & were so grateful that they gave us some smart home products & decorations to add to our experience in exchange for this post, some Tweets, Vines, & Instagrams (which we woulda done anyway!) We embrace total Tech transparency here at MHMS, so it was a total Win/Win! W00t!

  @hcpss_mhms 7thGr #EdgarAllanPoe Haunted Smart House partially sponsored by @AmazonEcho #echoholidays   A video posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

Experience the FUN and the TERROR!


 

@hcpss_mhms 7thGr kiddos #EdgarAllanPoe Haunted Smart House partially sponsored by @AmazonEcho #echoholidays A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

 

  @hcpss_mhms 7thGr #EdgarAllanPoe Haunted Smart House partially sponsored by @AmazonEcho #echoholidays   A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

If you have an Amazon Echo, you can connect all your SMART devices to it to help run your Haunted house! Here’s an example of some commands you can give it – provided by Amazon:

Make Halloween Parties More Fun with the Amazon Echo

Echo can play Halloween Music. Examples of how to ask for music:

Alexa, play Haunted House Sounds Playlist on Prime Music

Alexa, play Kids Halloween playlist on Prime Music

Alexa, play Halloween Party Soundtrack on Prime Music

Echo can tell Halloween jokes and answer questions:

Alexa, tell me a Halloween Joke

Alexa, what is a Jack-O-Lantern?

 

 

A super big thanks to all the 7th grade team, Ms. Galloway-Smith, Ms. Sheppard, & the Amazon Echo for helping to make this a truly hair-raising, interactive, and SMART experience!

Look! Even HCPSS SLA liked what we did!

 

September 22

Banned Book Week 2015

Celebrating the Freedom to Read!

MHMS Celebrates National Banned Book Week with a display highlighting some of the books that have been banned throughout the years in American school and public libraries.

From the American Library Association:

Banned Books Week is the national book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read. Hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events. The 2015 celebration will be held September 27-October 3.

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982 according to the American Library Association.”

To celebrate banned book week here at MHMS we created a book display covering up some of the most banned books with strategic tear outs. We also created a couple QR Code resources for kiddos to learn more about Banned Books!


We here at the MHMS Daring School Library believe in the freedom to read without censorship!

Middle school is a WONDERFUL but quirky time for kids with wide ranges of maturity and reading levels. (and that’s why I teach middle school – because, LOVE IT!) But, I must admit, there are a few books that we have that I consider maybe to be more 7th or 8th grade in subject matter than right 6th graders. That’s when I sometimes exercise my judgement as a certified school librarian to say to a 6th grader – this may be too mature for you, wait till next year. But I wouldn’t EVER want to take that book off the shelf and not let a kid “grow into it” nor do I approve of forcing a kid to read a book. It’s all about the Freedom of Choice! Read more about Banned Book Week!

[she now tries to get the 1980’s Devo song out of her head]

How to Make a QR Code in 3 Easy Steps!

MHMS isn’t the only school library to celebrate #BannedBookWeek! Check out these Timehop pics from her friend Ms. Sherry Gick, a Teacher Librarian & Tech Specialist at Rossville Consolidated Schools in Indiana!

Also check out the cool display from Maine! Mr. jonathan r. werner

August 24

Welcome Back to School!

Welcome Back Kiddos, Parents, & Families!

I’m so happy to come back to Murray Hill for my 19th year! That means, the 8th grade kiddos I taught when we opened Murray Hill back in 1997 would now be in their 30’s! Whaaaat? That’s Crazy! But seriously, I am SO honored to have been a part of this community since the beginning. I never thought I was one of those teachers who would stay in the same school for like, forever! But here I am, still happy, loving our quirky middle school kiddos and the vibrant diversity of our neighborhood! I also like that I live near our community and only have to drive 7 minutes to get here!

This year is going to be both fantastic and challenging! Due to HCPSS budget cuts Ms. Bell, our amazing Media Assistant, will not be working with us full time. We’re grateful for any time we’re given to support our awesome Library and Literacy program here at MHMS. A big thanks to Mr. Wasilewski for valuing our program and letting Ms. Bell work with our kiddos in the mornings and during 6th period.

We’re both a “cup half full” kinda people!  And our mantra for this year is borrowed from the esteemed fashion educator & Project Runway mentor, Tim Gunn  –  it’s  “Make it work” time!

Speaking of making and working I’m excited to set up our The Makerspace Station at MHMS in our Daring School Library Media Center for the second year! We’re going to be adding more stations, robotics, technology and opportunities to create, make, craft, design, code, and construct in our school!

The following are student, parent, and community resources I want to bring to your attention.

For the latest school resources, check our our Back to School Night Wikipage!

This page will also feature our new HCPSS Parent Portal – HCPSS Connect

And don’t forget our Tech Help at Home Wikipage this is a helpful site for all those pesky techy troubles & queries!
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Our Research Databases Wikpage helps with homework & school projects!

June 17

Summer Reading & Celebrations!


Hot off the Presses!
Get your Summer Reading List!

by scanning the QR Code below

or Click HERE!  You can also visit our Wikispaces Page!

WARNING: This post contains an abundance of exclamations marks. No characters were hurt writing this post, however, the ! key is giving me the side eye!

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Be a Super Hero (cape optional) and Join the Summer Reading Program at your friendly neighborhood Howard County Library, Savage Branch!

SRP-teens-WP
You can read anything!

“You may read books, magazines, graphic novels, newspapers, and web sites. You may also listen to audio books. For ideas and suggestions, check out the links below for a list of books for Middle School and High School students developed by Howard County Library System teen specialists in conjunction with the Howard County Public School System.

To get started, register at the research desk at any Howard County Library System branch. We’ll give you all of the materials you need to get started: a reading log, instructions, and even your first raffle ticket just for signing up.  You may then earn raffle tickets for reading and completing other fun, library related activities”

Grades 6+ REGISTER Online!
You can also pick up a Summer Reading List flier in the MHMS front office!
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As always, if you would like to request a book for purchase
for the MHMS Media Center for next year, fill out this Google form!

Field Day 2015!

8th Grade Slideshow Movie!

8th Grade Slide Show Pictures!

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June 4

Makerspace@MHMS

The hot new Makerspace Movement is NOT new to Murray Hill Middle School. We opened the school with the idea that we would have creation labs in the Media Center, GT room, and the TV studio. We started with video production, iMovie, Specular LogoMotion, Hyperstudio, and animation with Hollyood High kids. Here’s an example of an EARLY (2003) video production called Bookfellas, featuring some Guy Ritchie-esque film direction techniques. These kids are now all grown up and we’ve kept evolving, too!

We have, however, expanded upon our Makerspace offerngs.  We’ve now added a Lego Creation Station, a Duct Tape Craft Cubby, and a Makey Makey Coding Corner. Kids can come in during lunch or when they’ve finished their work to explore and create in the Library Media Center. All this for about $350.oo. Teachers & Librarians – I invite you to see my professional blog next week for more info on how to get this setup in your library or classroom!

Next year, any donations of novelty duct tape rolls to the Media Center would be greatly appreciated!

Here’s an example of a cool stop action animation video by our Advanced Digital Media Team for the Environmental Fair. Created by MHMS 8th graders: Drew H, Prerana K, Joonseo P, & Gloria O.  This was created under the direction of GT Teacher, Mr. Mark Dunbar.

Meet Alexa!

We also have a new information tool in the library! (OK, I bought this with my own money and brought it into school) It’s the Amazon Echo! Have you heard of it? Since I’m not going to have an assistant full time next year, (don’t get me started!) I thought this could be a cool way to answer basic questions. Kids are delighted to discover Alexa, living in the Amazon Echo. Not only is it a fun way for kiddos to learn how to ask the right questions, to speak clearly, it also introduces them to the Internet of Things.

Yeah, sometimes we dance in the Library! That’s how we roll!

Get your charge on!

We also have a new Courtesy Mobile Device Charging Station in the MHMS Daring School Library Media Center! Moving closer to BYOD means that kiddos often come to the media center at lunch to charge up. Nothing too fancy, two super fast charging UNITEK 10 USB port hubs and a 4-in-1 USB Charging Cord.  This is just a start!

 

 

April 28

MHMS Pocket Guide to Cell Phone Use in School

I’ve been teaching long enough to remember when kiddos were NOT allowed to bring a cell phone to school…at all. They were contraband!  Then Columbine and 9/11 happened, and parents wanted and needed to make sure their kiddos were OK.

So Howard County Schools were one of the FIRST school districts in our state to create a policy where kids could keep their cell phones – turned OFF and stored in lockers. These phones would be available in an emergency and could only turned back on as they left the school. That was huge!

Fast forward about 13 years….yes, that policy above lasted thirteen years,  from a cellasaurus to the smart phone.  But then…

an amazing AWESOME thing happened, we evolved! Now, we are one of the only schools in our state to have a new, more liberal, cell phone & communication policy!  About two years ago HCPSS decided to relax our policy and to baby step it towards BYOD. And boy, was I on board with this! Wooo hooo!

Our new policy allows our students to use their cell phones in the mornings, during hallway transitions, and at recess. More details can be found below but we here at MHMS want to come to the kiddos from a standpoint of…


WE TRUST YOU!

We trust you to make good choices. We trust you to follow basic guidelines, good manners, and common sense. We trust you to be an ethical member of our community and to choose civility.

Watch our Zombie Cartoon for Cell Phone Recess Etiquette

Hey Kiddos & Parents! Want more info? Click through these slides!

See our Cell Phone Wikipage for more!

Next, I am hoping, we will allow students to use their Cell Phones as connected tools in their classes (and in the library) for academic reasons! I Can’t wait for that day and my students are ready for it!

I’m so fortunate, that my awesome principal, Mr. Wasilewski, has given me permission to pilot test cell phones used collaboratively in Media center for lessons such as my Media Orientation using the AWESOME Kahoot quiz feature!  With admin permission, we’ve also used mobile devices in the Media Center for digital discoveries & QR Code Scavenger Hunts!

 

April 20

Super Graphic Novels & Bean Bags


We try and listen to our kiddos, staff, & parents as much as possible to make this the best darn school library EVAH!  So, when Lord Sid (one of our AWESOME teachers) asked if we had a very popular graphic novel called Superman Red Son by Mark Millar, and we didn’t and NO ONE DID in the whole county – we were on a mission!

Of course, I had to take to my amazing PLN (Personal Learning Network) on the Twitters asking:

What I got back was amazing! So many suggestions & votes of YES!  from even those who don’t follow me!

We have the book now and we also got his popular Wolverine one, too!  W00t!

Another thing I wanted to have for our kiddos, Bean Bag Chairs! We have this little nook that some of my favourite readers like to curl up in with a book on the floor but a bean bag chair makes it perfect. Check out Pooh’s Reading Corner below. (Pooh costume not supplied – It’s a BYOPC nook!)

Sure, the library has been closed a LOT for testing this year – it’s a nationwide challenge, but when our kiddos get here – we’ve got the books & the comfy chairs to welcome them! Drop on by!

Big Joe Bean Bag Chairs in Spicy Lime available on Amazon.com for $39.99!

 

March 4

The MHMS Instagrammy’s!

History Day in the Library w/ the Absolutely Awesome Alexandra! #HistoryDay @hcpss_mhms Ps. That’s a record player!

A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

I was inspired recently by another librarian (Ms. Diana Rendina) to create an Instagram account for our Library Media Center and our school! So that when cool things were going on I could share them with our kiddos,  parents,  our community, & the world!

Brently playing with the puzzle ball that totally confounds me in the library media center #Patient A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

Kids love to tag themselves in the photos! Whether it’s History day, a Science experiment, a Daring Library Media Lesson, or the school play – they can see pics of themselves actively involved!

#ThrowbackThursday at @hcpss_mhms looking quite fly.

A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

Like Vine, these social media tools forge a creative bridge with our students.  This lesson #StoryIn140 was mentioned in a previous post – here are more pics!

The pancake obsessed table writing #StoryIn140 A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on


Showcase special talents or special events! Here’s Palwasha showing off her upcycled folded magazine page bowl!

Gorgeous student artwork = upcycled awesome! @hcpss_mhms #ArtMatters!

A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

Here are 3 little fairies from Peter Pan! Oh Lillian! Has your older sister Natalie seen this, yet?

Janice, Lilian, & Anna as the cutest fairies in Neverland! At @hcpss_mhms #PeterPan production! A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

Our Lost Boys are Rocking it! Featuring our own MHTV Daniel D as the Fox!

Lost Boys dancing! Feat. Daniel as the fox! @hcpss_mhms #PeterPan

A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

More Peter Pan! Watch out Capt. Hook!

@hcpss_mhms #PeterPan Awesome Cast! A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

And the amazing Lauren sharing inspiring words from Oprah Winfrey for Black History Month!

The amazing Lauren sharing inspiring words from Oprah Winfrey for Black History Month! @hcpss_mhms @hcpss #hoco

A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

Follow us on Instagram & enjoy the

AWESOME that is our kiddos and staff!

J’Pia looking quite Fleek for @hcpss_mhms #WackyTacky day! A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on