May 20

Google+ Hangouts: Cool Conversations and BookTalks Without Borders

This is a story about Sister Libraries, Twitter, Google+ Hangout, and connecting kids! It all started with a Tweet by my dear friend & Tweep  Tiffany Whitehead aka The Mighty Little Librarian and her awesome BFF EL teacher Alaina Laperouse both of Central Middle School in Baton Rouge Louisiana! She had been inspired by a Tweet she had seen about sister classrooms started between and – you know, like sister cities? She said she wanted a sister library & I was like I’m willing!! After a few Tweets back and forth a bit to establish time zones (because I’m an idiot when it comes to time zones!) we finally got our kiddos to meet and chat using Google+ Hangout! I’ve connected with classrooms before using Google Hangout before & blogged about it – but this was different, this was establishing a steady school partnership!

 

Our first chat happened in Kristin Cullison’s classroom with her 6th grade research seminar class (and my media helpers!). Tiff’s kids didn’t know where we were from so they asked my kids questions to discover our location – after a few clues (including steamed crabs and the Chesapeake Bay!) her kiddos correctly guessed Maryland! I shared that one of our favourite books was Weird Maryland and her kids said that they loved the book  Weird Louisiana! It was a super fun moment of a shared love of urban legends where the kids each held up the respective books to show each other live & It was a magic moment! To celebrate this, the next day I sent them the Maryland book! LOVE Amazon Prime! (See pic below from Tiff)  My kids were so impressed with the lovely behaviour & charming Louisiana accents of the CMS kiddos & were urging to connect again!
Our latest chat happened in our respective school libraries with the kiddos trading prepared book talks! Great for summer reading!
To extend this relationship for next year I’m thinking of having our kiddos both join United Classrooms where they can chat back & forth and have moderated discussions. Maybe share those urban legend stories and collaboratively create an urban legend wiki or group on Edmodo, or perhaps start a semi-virtual book club!  A cool idea I haven’t tried yet is we could create a chat room for the event with Today’s Meet  and using a second laptop or computer joining in the Hangout – sharing screen, you can have a moderated chat going on at the same time!

Google Hangout TIPS:

• Practice beforehand!

• Make sure your plugins & browsers are updated & use Chrome!

• Sign in early

• Consider recording via YouTube it to embed or view later

• I added clip-on TV Studio lights nearby to improve the camera shot

• Have kids talking sit close to the laptop for better sound quality

• Practice with your kiddos speaking slowly & loudly – consider recording with a flip camera & previewing their performance

You can see ALL the pictures I took of this growing relationship on my Flickr slideshow below or skip directly to our gallery!

Teachers & Librarians: If you’re interested in trying this out there is a Google+ Community for connecting Google classroom Hangouts! You can also check out the website Google Education OnAir to join in scheduled LIVE Google Hangouts, connect with other interested educators or get tech help to get started!  The Twitter hashtag #eduonair  connects educators with other classrooms creating conversations & relationships.

Tiff was moderating our conversation with her official Harry Potter wand!  We are both ardent  Harry Potter fans, so I have to share this amazing video below of Tiff – the Mighty Little Librarian getting her own wand! It’s magical if you’re an HP fan! My eyes got a little leaky about halfway through! [snif!]


Resources:

32 Tips for Using Google Hangout in the Classroom

EducationOnAir – Google Sites

Google Hangouts as Edtech: Connecting, Sharing and – Edutopia

Credits:

Mustache pic by Tiffany Whitehead

Gwyneth & Alaina pic by Alaina Laperouse

 

Médecins Sans Frontières

My title for this post was inspired by one of my most favoured charitable organizations Doctors Without Borders or Médecins Sans Frontières  – Please consider donating to this worthy cause!

March 4

The MHMS Harlem Shake (& Why It’s So Popular!)


Yes, we did it. Inspired by Tim Gwynn’s TV studio kids doing the Internet MEME
dance sensation The Harlem Shake, Winecoff Style (embedded at the
end!) you know we had to make our own!
What is a MEME, you may ask?  A Meme – which rhymes with Team!,  is an Internet sensation that has gone viral. Like Gangnam Style, the Dancing Baby, or Rick Rolling someone. The graphic below gives a quick overview and you can see the whole infographic here. So, why has this one Meme sprouted like a gajillion versions in the

last two weeks? I think because it’s fun
& easy to film and most importantly easy to edit!

Bascially, it’s shot in 2 scenes, the first one being a person masked or helmeted dancing with people around assiduously ignoring them for the first 15 seconds of the song, then when the song says “Harlem Shake” you cut to everyone going wild dancing usually with costumes & props for a total of 30-40 seconds.

Now, schools, universities, companies, & groups across the country are filming versions.  In fact last week there were an average of 4,000 versions featuring the words “Harlem Shake” being uploaded on YouTube per day! Want to trace the MEME history? As always, I would point you to the Know Your Meme Internet Database.

While some students are being suspended for posting lewd or unsanctioned versions shot dancing mob-style on cafeteria tables, and where parents are also complaining that school is not the place to film a dance craze, this has definitely cashed in well for the original artist music producer Baauer who is getting a monetized slice with every click on YouTube and was fighting for the top 2 spots in iTunes last week. I confess, I spent $1.29 to buy the song for my iMovie editing fun!

It was reported that Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ made the artist over $870,000 from YouTube alone, media watchers are speculating now how much this craze will generate for artist Baauer.

How did ours come about? We’ve got a big MSA (our Maryland standardized test) Pep rally tomorrow and two of my favourite 7th grade English teachers Mrs. Cullision (on right) and Mrs. Krieger (on left) emailed me with the idea (I said, Yes, please!) and of course included our super cool principal, Dr. D, last week. In his wisdom, Dr. D was firm that he didn’t want us to use kids during instructional time (ie: why are students dancing & not learning when our standardized testing starts next week? or possible lewd middle school moves #nuffsaid) So we did it with all teachers voluntarily showing up in our library AFTER school! Of course I filmed it and before we did it I showed the Winecoff Elem version as inspiration and kept it showing via the LCD projector to create a Meme inside a Meme! W00t!

You can find our video on my YouTube Channel, our MurrayHill YouTube Channel, and our SchoolTube Channel.

Is
YouTube blocked in your school? Here’s our SchoolTube Version


Read more:

How Your Harlem Shake Videos Make
Money

Meet Baauer, the Man Behind the Harlem
Shake
– The Daily Beast

Harlem Shake: Baauer cashes in

Harlem Shake‘ gets kids suspended

Teens suspended over suggestive ‘Harlem
Shake
‘ video

Harlem
Shake on mid-flight airplane leads to FAA investigation

Harlem Shake – Winecoff Style! Winecoff Elementary School, North Carolina

February 14

Gamification for the Win! Escape from Detention


You’re looking at the proud smiling faces of two middle school Game App designers.  Howard County Middle School student Tekye (and family friend to MHMS) and MHMS 8th grader Lasya, participated in an exciting program called HiTech – wherein they helped to create a super cool APP Game called Escape from Detention. And by the way, it’s NOT EASY! It somehow reminds me of Frogger

Get a peek at the game with this YouTube video!

Here’s a few screenshots I grabbed off my iPad to give you an idea what it looks like!

From an email from Tekye’s proud mom, Catina (and former MHMS English teacher!)

“The new game offers a variety of break out scenarios at escalating levels of complexity. Download the (free) game and try your hand at “springing” the student from captivity while avoiding myriad pitfalls.

Escape is available for iPhones, iPads, and Android systems.

App Store linkGoogle Play image

I am so very proud of the work completed by the teenagers and the HiTech team that I had to share with you.”

According to an HCL press release: “More than 1,200 students between the ages of 11 and 18 [all of whom are students, public, private, or home-schooled, living in Howard County] have participated in HiTech classes since its inception … creating music, 3D images, videos [and] e-books.”

From an article by Technically Baltimore:

“Mindgrub Technologies, the Catonsville-based innovation agency that started a new gaming division this year, has released its latest game.

Escape from Detention is a collaboration with students participating with the Howard County Library’s HiTech, the library’s new STEM digital media lab, who helped with the game’s design and development. Players maneuver detention-serving digital students around time-based obstacles (desks and other students) inside of classrooms.

Download Escape! From Detention for Android or iOS.

The game itself was produced in Corona, said Alex Hachey, Mindgrub’s creative lead, at the Baltimore Mobile Meetup in December. Producing the game in Corona makes it cross-platform, so it’ll work on iOS, Android, the Kindle Fire and the Barnes & Noble Nook. Hachey also said the game development was paid for, as it’s a “client services game.”

Over a six-week period, Mindgrub employees served as instructors teaching students at the HiTech lab principles on game design, theory and logic, as well as teaching classes on producing sound effects, characters and game layout. It was the students who came up with concept for Escape! From Detention.”

Again, I played it….and it’s NOT EASY — but I really want to make it to the library!

 

Resources:

Escape! From Detention: Mindgrub and Howard County Library students collaborate on new mobile game

Escape from Detention: iTunes Preview

Howard County Library Game Released!

Credits:
Photos of Tekye by his Mom, Catina & PicMonkey designed by me

HiTech is funded in part through a federal grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and IMLS.

January 10

From the Planet of Trashitron it’s Recycle Man!

Recycle Man travels from his home planet of Trashitron to convince MHMS students that they need to recycle. His methods may be harsh but his message is one of hope!

Back by popular demand, created by the MHMS GT video production crew in concert with the Green Team it’s RECYCLE MAN! Starring lots of our kiddos & Mr. Christopher Yetter as RECYCLE MAN executive produced by Elizabeth Singleton! (Special Thanks to NibbleTheKitty for requesting this upload!)

Also available on the YouTubes! On our MurrayHillPD Channel!

 

 

September 24

Choose Civility HiTech Teen Day!

This Wednesday! 

From the HCL Website:

Create (or Edit) an iBook
Register today to collaborate with your friends to create a Choose Civility iBook! A community-wide initiative, Choose Civility aims to enhance respect, empathy, consideration, and tolerance.

All you need to do is write a brief summary, poem or letter (no longer than 1 page) on one of the following topics:

• importance of being respectful,
• a kind or thoughtful message for those going through a tough time, or
• how to make the world a better place.

Please make sure your document is on a thumb drive. You may also bring original pictures and photos that best depict your written document or create it during the iBook session.

HiTech is funded by a Federal STEM grant from IMLS and the MacArthur Foundation.

PS. Brekkie & Lunch included! Nom, nom!

Register HERE!

for more information contact our good friend:

Sarah Moore
Teen Specialist
Howard County Library System
Savage Branch
410-880-5980

January 8

10 Super Geeky Tips for the New Year


Resolutions are usually hard to keep..but there are a few easily done things that feel great for a SUPER GEEKY SAFE….errm Aware! New Year. (There is no *safe* on the Interwebs, only Aware!)

(click above for a larger size or download PDF it here)
1. Change your passwords. Yes, ALL of them.
According to CNN Tech an 8 digit password can be hacked in 2 hours but a 12 character password would take 17 years. Use this handy NEW! Comic Tutorial to create a really super new password for every website….don’t worry, there’s a trick! Oh and in the small print I said 3 important things – Change your passwords twice a year, have a different password for Facebook that you don’t use for ANYwhere else because FB’s security is notoriously unreliable (and the bank, too), and as a disclaimer – I’m not a security expert and nothing is foolproof.

2. Check your Browser’s History & Dump your cache, cookies
Parents: If you’re a concerned & want to see what is being viewed on your home computers – check your browser history. Then, at least once a year (I try quarterly) go around to every computer you use public & private -and dump the cache, clear your cookies, & browsing history. Just in case visitors or workers in the home can get into your private business. Also, I would not recommend instant password acceptance on your email, social networks,  or banking institutions.

3. Consolidate your Flashdrives
We all have a gajillion flashdrives floating around from 128mg’s to 16gb’s. Lazy Way: Gather them all up and create a folder on your external HD called flashdrive backups (or one folder per flashdrive) and drag all the stuff in there. Smart Way: Go through all those flashdrives & trash anything you really don’t need & save only the archive worthy stuff. While you’re at it – are those drives named? Do you have an .RTF doc on it that says “If found, Please Read” with your contact information? This might be a good time to get those on there. I give every new teacher to my school a new 4G flashdrive and yeah, sometimes they lose them. So, even though it’s super easy to carry around & save stuff in a pinch, you wanna give yourself a chance to get it back if lost. Now… throw some of those old flashdrives away & go on to the next tip.
dropbox.JPG4. Forget the flashdrive try the cloud!
Now that you’ve backed up your flashdrives consider using Dropbox, Amazon Prime storage, iCloud, or Google docs to save your stuff! Don’t have Dropbox? Get it by using THIS SPECIAL SECRET SQUIRREL LINK to register for dropbox & and you’ll get EXTRA FREE SPACE!  (it’s a geeky pyramid scheme but so worth it!) Dropbox allows you store your files online, easily share files with others, and sync your documents with multiple computers and mobile devices. I have it on my iPad and all my Macs both home and at school! This is a must have tool for educators! It’s Free, Convenient, and Saves Time!
5. Edit your privacy settings & friendships
Facebook is notoriously changing their privacy settings – Google “latest facebook privacy settings” to read blogs with advice to double check that you’re sharing what you want to share. Consider what you share and who you share it with. Also, look at your friends – are you really friends with them? Or are they friends of friends? Friends of friends are NOT friends. “While considering what’s private and public, take time to evaluate what a “friend,” “contact” or “follower” means to you and what types of information you share with different groups.” (Quoted from the super AWEsome )

6. Walk wisely. We all should be good role models for our kids & students about what kind of footprints we’re leaving on the Intarwebs. Google your name, your child’s name, (“your name” add state) and see what comes up. It is up to us to create a positive digital footprint, one that we can show future education institutions, employers, and the future.

7. Buy your name. (or your kids name!) 
For $10 bucks a year you can own your own domain through Google Apps. You don’t want to be the last person who has their own domain or let someone else get it. I was lazy in this, I considered it back in the late 90’s – went with Angelfire instead. That was stooopid. Wish I had grabbed Gwyneth Jones before the Welsh Opera singer & the Sci Fi YA Author! Ahh well! Now I have 2 domains!

8. Clean out your Apps!
If you have a smart phone, iPad, or tablet review the APPS you have downloaded. Are you still using them? If not, they’re taking up valuable memory & space and could be slowing down your phone or tablet. Also delete old versions of Apps. I had a lot of “lite” FREE versions of Apps I later went & bought. (Like yes, Angry Birds & Air Penguin) Save space  and get better performance by cleaning once a year!

9. Go digital with your photos
Using a site like Flickr or Picasa you can save your digital moments & share them with family and friends. Uploads can be either public or private (or to family, friends, groups, etc.)  “Flickr has some similar qualities to Facebook, such as “contacts” (friends), comment postings, private messages can be sent, there are groups anyone can join, blogs can be maintained, Flickr can be operated via cell phone or computer, and there are even more mutual features.” Directions from:  Setting Up an Online Photo Gallery with Flickr


10. Back up your data.
“Hacks and hardware failures happen. Before this year gets going, make sure as much of your data as possible is protected. From calendars and contacts to blog posts and work projects, more and more of us are relying on networks of servers and startups to keep us running. So, now might be a good time to download and back up files of your contacts and blog posts – anything that’s valuable to you and portable.” Get a big external HD but also burn to CD or DVD the really important stuff because I’ve had externals die on me. And yeah, the cloud is awesome, but I’m not ready to give over yet completely! LOL “Think of it this way: You – or at least parts of you – live in the Internet. If the Internet caught on fire, what would you grab to carry with you out of the blaze?(Quoted, inspired & adapted from the super AWEsome )

What are the geeky things that you do that we can learn from?
Please comment your suggestions, corrections, & additions! Thank you dear readers!

And……Happy New Year!
BEST Christmas Presents EVER!
Oh and though Santa got me an iPad2 for Christmas, don’t tell him but here are the best presents I got this year from 2 students featuring a Ninja Squirrel & Ninja Bacon, & one fabulous kid blogger – my friend Hagan! (click for larger images)


(check out Ninja Bacon! My kids know I love Ninjas!)

Lastly, thank you to everyone who voted for this blog as Edublogs Best Librarian Blog– we were only 16 votes away from winning! Maybe someday! But seriously, having this conversation with you is the real prize! For reals! Thank you!
(not that I’m not gonna pimp my blog with those fab badges! Love me some badges!)

–Credits & Resources
Creating and Remembering Complex Passwords by Alex Jones (not my nephew!)
The Ultimate Guide for Creating Strong Passwords – Some of these suggestions seem impossible but I got great ideas here.
The top 50 passwords you should never use | Naked Security
8 Things Every Geek Needs to Do Before 2010
Five New Years Resolution Suggestions.
Baby Cthulhu Squishable a gift from my dear friend Dr. Gelving Obolensky of New Babbage. Thanks darlin! He, I will NEVER Prune from my PLN tree!

Flashdrive pic from: bamalibrarylady Tamara Evans