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!

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!


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

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!
external image 18385922142_92da851332.jpg

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


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 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 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

February 14

A #StoryIn140: A Literary Challenge

Creativity in all it’s engaging guises but presented with a new technology and social media twist!

Your Challenge!

Can you tell a story in 140 characters? The size of the average Tweet? This literary challenge requires our kiddos to write a super short story that includes a main character, a problem, an event, & intrigue. Try it! We did this fun lesson & activity right before our Winter break & our students had a great time stretching their creative writing legs, brainstorming, & creating a unique custom bookmark with their story!

Please note: if you add the hashtag #Storyin140 the total will actually be 130, but Story in 130 didn’t rhyme! More examples of student work below.Since our MHMS kiddos are mostly under 13, and HCPSS RUP does not allow our students to sign up for Website accounts in school except for those Student Managment Systems that we endorse. Using our Wikispaces page whichfeatures a java script character counter widget and a Google form to submit the story to bypass this restriction in a safe way!

Here’s How!
Brainstorm with the character counter generator embedded below on the
left. Just type in what you’re thinking then hit-calculate characters.
Don’t forget to add #StoryIn140 hashtag to your creation & your first name, last initial, & grade.

Writer’s Block? Are you stumped? Can’t think of
anything? Try working in a pair to brainstorm a story. Think of it as an
Madlib. Who was where, did what, what happened, & intrigue!
Intrigue means here, to inspire curiosity or to fascinate.

To make the reader think: What’s going to happen next?

Extra Challenge: If you leave a few extra characters
(total 125-130) then you have more chance for people to RT (or re-Tweet)
your story, passing it along to the world.

We will be selecting via gallery walk, the best for special
recognition, fame, glory, possible lamination, display, and Tweeting
them out to the world!

Submit the Final draft in the Google Form:
Don’t forget the hashtag #StoryIn140 Your full name will NOT be used
just your first & your grade. Non-MHMS students will be deleted.

Here’s the story:

Saw a Twinkie bout a week ago
looked good so I ate it thoa
old lady wanted some &
I said no
u want some fight me tho

Avery & Malechi 7gr

Teacher Librarian Directions & Extension ideas: 

I really can’t remember how I stumbled across this idea of writing super short Tweet size stories.  I certainly didn’t originate it – yet when I searched the hashtag I found an assortment of fits and starts with a challenge to write a short story in the form of a Tweet – and I was intrigued! I guess it’s sorta related to the Tweet Me a Book Review idea I had and blogged about a few years ago with it’s accompanying Wikispaces lesson page. The activity is below is copied from my Wikispaces page where, at the bottom of the page, I uploaded for you the doublesided paper PDF version for practice or when you want that social media engagement but you can’t get to or have the machines.

A good portion of my kiddos are under 13 and I wouldn’t want them to use Twitter directly, I’ll be the Tweet conduit.  I did this activity with 7th grade ELA classes right before the holidays & splurged for a couple hundred blank white and brightly coloured bookmarks from Amazon so they could write the story up & decorate it for fun! While they were creating their stories I took pictures with my new Daring Librarian Instagram account letting the kids tag themselves in they wished to and I even took a Vine of a couple of my kids rapping their story posted below!

The Wikispaces version of the lesson features a java script character counter widget and a Google form to submit the story.
Why not write a collaborative story via Twitter with your own hashtag? Announce you’ll post the next “chapter” on a certain day and at a certain time?  This was the very idea that inspired Jennifer Egan’s “Black Box,” a short story tweeted line by line by The New Yorker’s fiction account featured in the Ted Talk below.

Andrew Fitzgerald: Adventures in Twitter fiction

I’ve also seen some cool historic and literary Twitter accounts that Tweet in persona. Much like the idea of Fakebook I blogged about years ago. Creativity in all it’s engaging guises but presented with a new Technology and social media twist!

Suggestions? Additions?  I’d love to hear them in the comments! 



Category: twitter | LEAVE A COMMENT
November 20

Our Lovely Savage Library

We are so lucky to have a marvelous local public library close to our Middle School! The Howard County Public Library Savage Branch has been a fixture in our community for decades…but it needed a facelift, it needed expanding, it needed a HITech makeover. And it got it!

From the website: “The renovated and greatly expanded HCLS Savage Branch & STEM Education Center further positions HCLS as a 21st century educational institution, delivering 21st century public education for all. A launching point for the STEM career pipeline, the contemporary branch centers on science and technology, tripling classroom space for the delivery of the enhanced HCLS STEM curriculum for children and teens.”

One of my best ressources and friends there at the Savage Branch is Teens’ Instructor and Specialist, Ms. Sarah Cooke!

She has such amazing programs for our teens – and now with this new renovation those teens have a super cool new hangout in the library! The Teen Hangout & Cafe! (Ok, I just named it that!)

Teens can meet here for the STEM Lab & HiTech classes!

Here’s Sarah Cooke showing off the cool USB bracelets that kiddos made recently!

Wonderful bright spaces to read, work, and contemplate. Like a slick airport – with books! Many different areas to plug in laptops or tablets – a multitude of desktop computers ready for you! Comfy furniture, abundant books & materials, friendly librarians,  and a slick futuristic design make this a significant contribution to the heart of our community!

The Savage Branch is managed by the marvelous:

Diane Li  (Photo credit: Howard County Public Library)

Branch Location
9525 Durness Lane
Laurel, MD 20723
(410) 313-0760

Branch Hours

Mon. – Thurs. 10 am – 9 pm
Fri. – Sat. 10 am – 6 pm
Sun. 1 pm – 5 pm


Here are the latest Winter offerings for our students at the Savage Branch!

HCLS Savage Branch Winter Classes!

Ages 11-17
Read any interesting books lately?  Or any terrible ones?  Join us in creating and maintaining a teen book review blog where you can share those you loved, those you hated, and why with other readers, as well as learn the basics of making your own blog.
Dec 1        Mon        6:30-7:30

Ages 11-17, registration required for each class.
You could save a life! Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it’s happening, and the three simple steps of Hands-only CPR for victims over 8 years old. Receive a basic overview of an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Sat Jan 17   3-4pm

Ages 11-17
Ever wondered why young adult books rarely have pictures? You can change that! Create illustrations for your favorite book, then share with group for friendly book/art discussion and possible library display.
Mondays; 6:30 – 8 pm        Dec 22, Jan 26, Feb 23

Ages 11-17
Who knew insects could be so cute?  Using colorful crafting clay you can create adorable little “love bugs” to give as Valentine gifts to show how much you care…and how creative you are!
Feb 10        Tues     6:30-7:30

Ages 11-17
Join the Teen Advisory Board at your branch to recommend books, music, and movies; develop and plan events for teens; and work with HCLS instructors on projects you create. Service learning hours available.
Thursdays; 4-5 pm   Dec 18, Jan 15, Feb 19

Ages 9-13; 1.5 hours; drop-in.
Celebrate the season with a cup of hot cocoa and snow inspired crafts. Drop in and learn how to make giant snowflakes, pompom snowmen and other crafts that will make you feel warm even when it’s cold outside.
Saturday Dec 13    3-4:30 pm

Ages 9-13; 1 hour; registration required.
On your marks, get set, GO!  Let’s zoom into the the year 2015 by creating cool race cars out of recycled materials and rubber bands, and then exploring the laws of motion by racing them in the library.
Saturday Jan 10    3-4pm

Ages 9-13; 1 hour; registration required.
Join us in our latest duct tape adventure — making roses out of colorful duct tape and pencils for that special someone to show how much you care…and how crafty you are!
Saturday Feb 7        3-4pm

All ages, drop-in.
Enjoy a popular G or PG rated movie on the big screen with your family and friends.
Dec 26        Frozen
Jan 23        The Lego Movie
Feb 27        Despicable Me 2

Interested? For more information contact:

Sarah Cooke
Teens’ Instructor

Howard County Library System — Savage Branch

410-313-0760 main/
410-313-0752 office

October 27

HiTech STEM Symposium


(To hear audio click the top left corner & unmute the Vine X)

Sign up for a FREE HiTech Symposium for students, parents, and educators

(This blog post generated from an invitation)

photos of students with quadrotor, music, weather balloon, computers

Join us for a dynamic HiTech Symposium, featuring STEM industry thought leaders and hands-on classes.

Panel discussions feature representatives from Mindgrub Technologies, Hopkins’ Applied Physics Lab, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), Howard County Public School System, and LifeJourney. Topics include:
  • STEM: Past, Present, and Future
  • Gamification
  • STEM Resume Building and LifeJourney
Learn how your middle and high school students can participate in this STEM education initiative that teaches cutting-edge science, technology, engineering, and math via project-based classes that include computer programming, 3D animation, nanotechnology, music/video production, e-books, game apps, cybersecurity, green energy, and robotics.
Monday, November 3rd from 2 – 5 pm
Details and Registration:
Call 410.313.7750
HiTech is funded in part through a federal grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and IMLS.
Sponsors include Friends of Howard County Library, Frank and Yolanda Bruno, and M&T Bank.
image of Cyborg Glitch game
Download the latest HiTech game!
Visit to download Cyborg Glitch, the newest interactive mobile game created by HiTech students.

Available FREE for iPads, iPhones, and Android systems.

Photo Credit: HCL