Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Always Be Thankful For Thanks!

Because this is the time of the year when I reflect on being thankful, I'd like to share a simple thing you can do that will help you get through the hard times in teaching. As with any profession, there are awesome days and there are difficult days. During those down days, it's good to have something to remind you why we do this thing called teaching, librarianship, & education. 

It's Handy to Keep The Thanks Handy
I still love a manila folder!  I keep the thank you notes from kiddos in a folder in my desk and it's labeled, Stuff from KIDS. But I also found it helpful to take a digital picture of the Thank you notes. too! Just in case of age, fire, zombies, you know....the usual. And to be able to look at them anytime I needed an emotional pick-me-up. That folder, on my Flickr gallery is called...Happy

And Then BuzzFeed Found It

So, how cool is that? 
11 Ways To Thank A Teacher 
(Without Using An Apple) 
BuzzFeed musta been searching around the Flickr Creative Commons and found my Happy Note and used it in an article

Happy Emails
This whole topic of being grateful and thankful came back to my thoughts recently because of a wonderful email I got from my outstanding neighborhood Teen's Instructor, Sarah Cooke from our Lovely Savage branch Howard County Public Library

WOW! This was so out of the blue unexpectedly Squee-worthy that I forwarded it to my Admin, my Media & Tech Supervisors,  and my Mom! 

Srsly, when you get something this important, this personally and professionally meaningful, don't be shy & humble, share it! Because this means as much or even more to me than a magazine or blog award! 

Screenshot Those Happy Tweets!
Also, when you get a Happy Tweet, screenshot and save it! 

When a Former Student Becomes a Teacher
Another amazing thing, is having your former students become teachers and contact you later. That is the BEST! 

Above is a Tweet that made my eyes leak a bit and brought a big smile to my face! I taught the lovely and smart Erin for years in Guilford Elementary school (my first job!) then later in Middle School (her mom was our Admin secretary) and I got to see her grow up. Now she's a teacher and Tweeting! Does it get any better?
UPDATE: I DM'd her on Twitter about this post and found out that she's left teaching and going back to school for Cyber Forensics! I told her that All I have EVER wanted for her was to be happy & fulfilled. And that I will always be unconditionally proud of her no matter the position or profession. Either way, I was so lucky to have watched her grow up! 

Erin's brother, Peter, is also a teacher in my district and the poor guy had me as his Librarian for 8 years! Elem AND Middle!
Sophia Berruz, I also taught for 5 years in Elementary School and is now a Technology teacher in my school district! Like Erin, Peter, and Ashleigh, she was one of those bright, whip-smart, unique students who are always remembered fondly.  She is basically Amazing! 

Hearing a kid, (now a grownup!) who you taught say that you helped inspire them to become a teacher? Does it get better than that?
Ashleigh is another amazing student, and a former MHTV producer, who got in touch with me via Twitter and now she's a Special Ed teacher in Montgomery County!  I'm so proud of her! After she Tweeted me, I found her 8th grade school picture that I had kept for 14 years, took a pic of it, and made the graphic above. She was so thrilled and surprised that I still had it. Of course I did, because it makes me Happy!

When you get a nice message on YouTube - screenshot that, too!

Basically, all those wonderful scribbled notes, letters, presents,
cards, Tweets, comments online, and emails - all which are fleeting and splendid, could be forgotten if you don't save them. I know this is a simple idea and one that you may have already thought of, but I want to encourage you to expand it, re-visit it, and celebrate it.  I'm also risking sounding exceedingly self-congratulatory, but when it comes to thanks from kids and colleagues, this is not a time to be humble. Save them, savor them, and share them!

Consider for your future professional happiness - to always be thankful for the Thanks you get from your kiddos! And don't be shy sharing them with a principal, and your Mom & Dad. Consider also sharing this simple idea with new teachers...or anyone who needs a pick me up.  Because some days will be daunting, it's remembering the kids whose lives you touched that will help you keep going! Remembering those days that are triumphant and thrilling that will give you the energy to smile and keep going. Why? 'Cause we have the BEST job in the world! 

Being compared to Miss Frizzle on Instagram ain't so bad, either! LOL
Now It's Your Turn!
What was the best Thank You that you ever received? 
What do you do to keep your spirits up during times that we're testing and tested? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

PS. Thanks to YOU!
Before I say goodbye for now and click UPDATE: Let me take time to thank you dear reader!  I am also very grateful and humbled by your readership. In the early days of my blogging, really for years and years,  I was writing to seemingly the aethernets, to the air,....and now anyone who visits and spends their valuable time here is truly appreciated.  Thank you.

Have a great week friends! 


5 Ways to Reflect, & Not Regret, Teaching!

14 Fabulous Finds - A Daringly Geeky Gift Guide

The Daring Librarian: Be a Daring Defender, Part 1

The Daring Librarian: Be a Daring Defender, Part 2



Monday, October 31, 2016

Oh Baby, Please Don't Go!

It hurts when something you love dearly goes away. Remember, how I said you didn't have to MARRY New Technology - you can just date it and drop it if you don't get along?

Well,  sometimes your favorite new technology that you've developed strong feelings for, gone steady with, and kinda loved - just up and LEAVES you! Goes poof, outta the blue! Leaving you to pick up the digital pieces and find a new love & replacement. 

Dying on the Vine & Instagram Invention
For example, I just heard last week that Vine is going away - and I was all like what the heck!? Which then leaves me to wail plaintively, "Now what!?"  

I wasn't an avid Viner, but I LOVED the app for easy Vine Video Book Trailers, Persuasive ELA Reading Projects, Science Experiments, and snazzy, musically enhanced, Library and school culture promotion.
They're saying that Vine is going away because Instagram added Video a while back and because of the growing popularity of Snapchat and YouTube. Innovation & competition happens.

How Instagram Got a Video Facelift
Three years ago Instagram, added 15 second video, hoping to squash the 6 second looping Vine sensation.  Now Instagram video allows you to record up to 60 seconds, and in bursts, for Stop Action Animation (VERY IMPT!) but it doesn't have music. 

You can even grab the EMBED Code to slap videos up on your blog, wiki, or website! (That was something they added later that I really liked in Vine...[sniffs sadly] Poor Vine.)

Flipping over Flipagram!

Like music AND video? Have you met my new friend Flipagram, yet?  Flipagram is a FREE APP (with an in-app $1.99 purchase option to take away the watermark) that can use your photos and videos or take video through your phone and add cool filters AND current music of all kinds. It works very nicely with Instagram and you can cross post, too! AND you can also Embed.

How PicMonkey Dried My Tears!
So, what other websites have you loved only to be left stranded, alone, sad and sniffy? For me, that was Picnik! 

Thank goodness PicMonkey came my way! 

Picmonkey is really, IMHO, the BEST online photo editing, touch-up, enhancement, & digital creation tool that's out there!'s super Easy Peasy! (There are even YouTube videos on how to do everything!)

It's FREE but there are Royale features that are totally worth the upgrade! I mean, for a girl who is semi-addicted to digital design and Photoshop, Pickmonkey is my online (& APP, too!) faster go-to for all things gorgeous and graphic. 

Tasty templates and terrific tutorials! 
(Ahh! My Alliteration Addiciton Rears is Corny Head Yet Again! Muuwaaa!)

Projects like greeting cards, Facebook covers, Pinterest Squares, and more! 

So, sometimes your most beloved APP or site goes away and sure enough, you'll move on and find something better. Or, just get some Gelato, cue up Midsomer Murders, and get over it! 

Now, it's your turn!
Which APP or website did you love that left you hanging and listening to Taylor Swift songs? Which site left that never was replaced by better? (I'm thinking of you iGoogle!) Which site could go away and you would't give a tinkers darn? (I'm thinking of you FB!) Share your thoughts please in the comments! 

10 Tips for Digital Photo Editing & Fun

PicMonkey is Pretty & Pretty Free for ISTE!

Digital Image Factory & Cue Tips

7 Day Digital Detox Challenge

10 Free Fonts Pic Monkey by The Daring Librarian, via Flickr - Pinterest



Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pokemon Go QR Code Library Scavenger Hunt

I've been Tweeting about this idea for a few weeks now, promising to post about it,  but I've been just a wee bit busy with the start of school this year. (This year? Every year! LOL) 

Oh, and this is NOT an apology for not posting!  I've always said about blogging, and went into greater detail in 11 Reflective Blogging Tips & Ideas - post when you can and never apologize. Real life and family is important, blogs can wait. But you're important, too - so let's get going!

Aww, aren't my students adorable?

OK!  I wanted to engage my kiddos with a new kind of
QR Code scavenger hunt involving, of course, PokémonGo! First, I took pictures of 10 different locations around our Library Media Center, then using a Photoshop template I super-imposed 10  Pokémon (some VERY RARE!) as if they were crouching, hiding, or sleeping there, and then created a QR code using Google URL Shortener that linked to that photo on Flickr that they would scan and "capture" with their BYOD devices and five of my own.  

Objective: Capitalizing on the engagement of the PokemonGo App game, students will use digital devices and QR Codes to explore the Library Media Center and discover important sections, features, and resources and reveal hidden and very rare Pokémon.  

You can grab, make a copy, and modify for yourself on my Google Drive, download the Photoshop Elements PSD template or the PDF on my Wiki. Includes 3 printable worksheets, QR codes in 2 different sizes, and more! 
Here's the first Tweet I shared about this:

Feel free to take, use, & share this lesson. It would be nice if you kept my name at the bottom, but this is all Creative Commons Non-Commercial Share-Alike Attribution and I’m not really going to lose sleep any over it! But, if you do adapt it and change it, I’d LOVE if you would share your version with me and the world! That would be super cool! W00t!  @GwynethJones 

Printable Pokemon scavenger hunt worksheets are below. 3 versions: One blank for kids to discover the Pokemon and write down their names & CP points, one with the names listed already for faster playing, and one just a checklist of the location clues for a super quick activity.

When doing the lesson with the kiddos, I found out that, with all the orientation information I had to share with my kiddos and only 45 min, I was short on time to do the whole sheet activity so I made a quick checklist of location clues that was still fun, had the kiddos running around the library on task, and worked great! 

Modifications: You can add the names of the Pokemon at the bottom of the blank list if you’re worried kiddos would have trouble spelling them. 
NON QR Code or Mobile Device Variation:  You could print out the Pokémons from my Flickr gallery, laminate them,  and hide them around the Library Media Center with the CP points written on the front or back.  
You could also forgo all the Photoshop and add the Pokémon name and CP points onto the Pokémon using my favorite FREE photo editing website Picmonkey. Kiddos search for the hidden Pokémons, write the name and CP points down on their worksheet and voila! 

Here are the photos I took from the activity with my awesome kids!

Pokemon Go Scavenger Hunt

Resources & Related Posts:

QR Code Quest Scavenger Hunt- Part Deux!

10 Things to do with QR Codes On Back to School Night

QR Code Scanning for Parents



Can You Catch Pikachu In "Pokemon Go"? Only If You Have The Know How 

This is what happens when I can't decide on a header graphic! Bless my dithering heeart! 




Thursday, August 18, 2016

6 Super Geeky Tech Tips for the New School Year

(A version of this post was published in NEA Today Magazine - 5 Super Geeky Tips -So honored to have been invited to write again for them! But here you get one tip extra!) Booya!

As I mentioned in my last blog post 5 Ways to Reflect, & Not Regret, Teaching OR... Summer Thoughts for Fall Success, one of the BEST things about being a teacher is that every year is a do-over! This post will provide some easy tips and examples of how up your ed tech game and get ready for a super new school year. Don’t feel pressured to do all 6 - just pick one for this year! If that works out for you, try another and go on from there. 

1. Get Cloudy  

Goodbye flash drives and external drives - the future of data storage and hosting is in the cloud. At first, I was skeptical of the cloud (and a little scared) but 5 years later and using it every day - I’m convinced! Most school systems have some version of Google Apps for Education (GAfE), available for teachers; I recommend uploading and converting your important documents, presentations, and spreadsheets to the cloud for easy editing, sharing, and storage. Another great resource is Dropbox. What sold me on it?  A trusted ed tech leader friend of mine, Gina Hartman, told me back in 2011 "because of Dropbox I don't care if my laptop crashes." That was a cartoon eyes bugging out, dropped jaw, and going “Awooga” kinda moment in my tech life. No fear of crashing. Ever. WOW!  


2. Get Linked

Now, more than ever, educators must be visible and transparent in what they do for their students, school, and community. Today, that’s easier than ever! Start with a free educator Wikispaces page. Click edit, type, and save. Done.

Why LinkedIn when you’re not looking for a new job? Because our parents and community are there and it shows we’re professionals, too! I’m on LinkedIn but I don’t do much there—it’s just another way for the world to find me and my main Web sites. It’s like a cactus plant because it grows but you don’t have to “water” it very often. A professional profile takes about 30 minutes to create. Just add a photo, your education and work history, awards and qualifications, and call it a day. If you want to go deeper with LinkedIn discussions and groups, and build a personal learning network that connects with other educators, you can! But it’s not a must.


3. Get Polished

Your social network profile is your best and most read professional bio on the web—so keep it polished, up-to-date, and consistent across all of your accounts. In a professional profile, I recommend including your school, location, subject area, teaching level, and an award or certification.

Consider adding a quirky hobby or interesting fact. Most Web sites don’t provide a lot of room to list everything in your profile description—so keep it short. Also, on the topic of profile pics or avatars, for six years I used a favorite avatar but I’ve lately had a change of heart. I realized people didn’t recognize me for me! So now I use my best recent selfie, jazzed up a bit with PicMonkey, and voila! The real me.



4. Get Making

Get your hands on the Makerspace movement that is sweeping the globe. Makerspace combines STEM, or as I prefer STEAM (adding art), with a constructivist and constructionist self-directed approach to education. The idea is to allow kids to get their hands involved, DIY-style, in project-based learning.

Whether you spend $300 or $3,000, you can add a Makerspace component, cart, or corner to any classroom or school library. Start small by creating a rolling Makerspace cart. Include bins of Legos, a batch of coloring books and colored pencils, paper for origami, and a couple of Makey Makey kits.


5. Get Social 

I use social media only in a professional sense— to share the cool things going on every day in my school and library, to celebrate my amazing students, and to connect with my parents, and our local and global community. Twitter and Scoopit are my preferred tools and I recently added Instagram—because that’s where my kiddos are! When sharing on social media, remember to be passionate, positive, and always professional. Never vent about administrators or students via social media! Don’t tweet yourself out of a job. On social media you can push the positive and change the world, grow professionally by leaps and bounds…or you could get in really big trouble. Share thoughtfully, wisely, and well.


6. Get Global

Technology can make the world smaller and our professional lives richer and more diverse.  It's great to build a global PLN, to reach beyond your borders and to seek out ideas that reflect a global perspective. Sometimes I follow people back just because they're in a different state, country, and as far from me as possible, because I want to be as diversified in the voices I listen to as possible. You can do this easily by using Skype for Education, Skype an Author, Mystery Skype, and Google Hangouts.

Check out the #MysterySkype Twitter Hashtag
Play Mystery Skype - Microsoft in Education
How to Set Up and Run a Mystery Skype Session from the amazing @MrSolarz

And remember, you don't have to choose ALL 6 of these tips, you can just choose one!  If this post looks familiar, it's because I've done a version of it around the new year and have gotten great feedback from it. However, one teacher emailed me saying that she could have really used it at the beginning of the school year not mid-year - so here it is! Cheers, dears!

Now, it's your turn! What did I forget? Which one are you going to choose? Which one is the easiest to do or try? Please feel free to hit up and add your thoughts to the comments! 

Thank you for reading and I hope you have a really AWESOME school year!


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