Monday, May 30, 2016

Got Charge? Inside My BYOD Charging Lockers

Using The Magic Words "Pilot Test!" 
Last year I mentioned at the bottom of my Amazon Echo blog post that I was trying something NEW in our library, a BYOD Charging station. 

It consisted of a tall AV cart with 2 USB charging hubs and I bought a bunch of multi-ended charging cords. It was on the honor system - come into the Media Center, plug in your device, check out a book or read, and charge while you were here. Still had my disclaimer, though!

Your device, Your Responsibility

It worked like a dream for months! Until one kid had a beef with another and a tablet, left on it's own over many class periods, went missing. Le sigh.

Unbowed, undeterred, and stubborn as all get out, I went back to the drawing board! 
Three years ago, while still on the ISTE Board of Directors, I was touring the fabulous Hillwood High School Library  in Nashville, and I saw this amazing bank of lockers in a school library that had electrical outlets in them! WOW! It blew my mind!
Fellow ginger Librarian Julie Strickland generously and delightfully showed off her state of the art facility and the seed was planted! I must have one someday!

Not being able to afford a whole wall full of charging lockers, I convinced my wonderful principal to let me pilot test the lockers and just bought a 5 LockNCharge locker bank for about $1400 edu price with a locking mechanism that's just like a hotel safe, where you can set your own combination each time. And they are expandable! Inside, they have 2 USB ports and a power plug. The generous size is great for cell phones, tablets, even laptops one day!

I can buy 5 more lockers next year & stack 'em, if they work out. Wanting to save a few hundred bucks, I didn't buy a floor base and I just placed them on top of the tall AV cart. They weigh 75lbs and I'm not afraid that someone will steal the whole thing. I can't live like that. Besides, it's HEAVY steel!

When you get it, you have to take off the left side panel, to release and thread through the AC cord. After that, I let my super clever 8th grader Miss A (above) figure out how to master the locking mechanism - then teach me! (I HATE to RTFM* unless I must) 

Two of the lockers didn't work and I finally broke down and called customer support where the nice chap named Jason in Wisconsin at LockNCharge walked me through how to take off the metal lock casing and re-connect the battery pack to the locking mechanism. 

Tiny Phillips Head screwdriver (and patience) required. 

Tip: If you don't already have a Library Toolbox - now is the time to buy one! Over the last 20 years since I've had mine, it's come in handy so many times. Hammer, screwdrivers, wire-cutters, shuriken, nails, pliers, etc.

Charging Tips:
Of course, you know I had to use my beloved Comic Life to make Visual Directions, Signage and Guidelines for my kiddos! As always, feel free to Take, Use, Share - all my work is Creative Commons!
Sneaky Tip: Write "Don't Read This" on any sign and it doubles the chance of kiddos reading it every time! LOL  

How To's:

Do They All Read the Directions? 
NO WAY! LOL But, I'm always happy to walk kids through it (I make sure they lock, unlock, then lock again to practice) and I recommend they use the last 4 digits of their school ID or cell phone # - OR write it on their hand! I don't encourage sharing lockers, but it happens. I only have 5 right now. I gently discourage teachers from using it (and am putting one of the high powered USB chargers in the teachers lounge for them to use) this locker is for the kiddos!

Warnings & Tips:
WARNING: Locking mechanisms can dislodge when you move the cart around or when the kiddos slam the locker doors. Keep that screwdriver handy! Don't lose the screws! Next time I fix it, I'll made sure to have a flat magnet handy so the little buggers don't roll away - they're TINY! Err... tiny!

ZIP It! 
One thing that was a total fail. When we moved the charging locker out of the Library Media Center and into the hallway outside
(because of standardized PARCC testing - see yellow signs on doors above), almost all my charging cords were...umm "borrowed." [smh]

So, again...cussedly stubbornly and undeterred, I bought bright ORANGE ZIP TIES and anchored those cords in there...and three weeks later - so far, so good! Muuwaa! You mad bro?
Buy Extra Keys!

When you buy this LockNCharge system - ask to purchase a couple extra battery operated over-ride keys. These are NEEDED when kids forget their pass code #, or to check to make sure there is a device inside. (See pic above: and yes, my handwriting stinks! LOL but you gotta love a silver sharpie, right?)

One of the annoying things that has happened more now that the lockers were moved OUT of the Library - kids are occasionally locking the lockers with nothing in them. Empty.

I don't know if they're doing it just to be funny, or if they're "holding" a locker for later, or if they're just practicing putting in the pass code. 

BUT....I do NOT mention this on any of my signage! I just unlock them, and swing em open.

Why? I don't want to give them ideas or show that it bothers me - they would invariably do it more! LOL I know my kids. Or, I know how an immature mind thinks. (natch!)

Read more about LockNCharge - Ask questions on Twitter, they're very responsive! When I had 2 of the 5 not work, I submitted an online service call back request which said could take 3 days, but ever impatient, I also Tweeted out my problem and within 20 min they said for me to DM my phone number! W00t! The guy was very patient and walked me through fixing the dislodged mechanism AND programming that electric override key!

The best price I could find on the locker system was from Touchboards and their EDU price - but shop around and bargain, shmooze, beg for a better price or free shipping if you can! They were really nice, but their email after the fact is getting a little spammy. Hate that.

Watch the video:
FUYL Cell - Laptop charging locker. by LocknCharge Technologies from PC Locs - LocknCharge on Vimeo.

Final thoughts: 
It's been great. It's been a pain. Kids love it. It takes some babysitting. It's cool.  Will it be like the duct tape fail? Or more like the Coloring Book win?  I don't know right now if I'm going to buy another set, but time will tell.

Another new thing I'm trying and not sure if I'm going to keep going. Snapchat! 

I don't get it. 2 of my 8th grade girls are trying to teach me but I still....just don't see how I can use it to connect with the community as easily as I do with Instagram and Vine! I've been sharing as many resources to help out with this as possible, but honestly - I haven't read them all carefully. Why? Umm... Did I mention that I don't like to RTFM!* 

*RTFM = read the flippin manual! 

And here's me not being happy with my blog header graphic - I made 3! LOL

Sunday, May 8, 2016

NEW Google Image Search Save

Google has quietly unveiled a super handy new way to search...and Save Google Images! I just stumbled across this and was like, Whaaat?

It's super cool, but it's going to make my job trying to teach students (and teachers) NOT to just always use (and give sloppy attribution) Google Image Search instead of my beloved Flikr Creative Commons! Gah!!! LOL

When you're logged into your Gmail or Google and you go to Google Image Search, click on any image and you now see two little new buttons that say Save? and View Save? Try it! Voila! 
But it's quirky! I just checked this morning when I got into school, logged in with my other Gmail account (you know we all have more than one, amirite?) and it didn't work! But when I logged into the one that I was on yesterday at home, all my saves were there! So, quirky!  Same computer, Firefox, maybe it's because it's NEW?  So, with anything new by Google - your mileage may vary.  

Click for the full size example

I saw this first on Firefox but not on Chrome (see below about the Chrome extension) 

The first time you try this out and go to View Saves, you'll see this splashy little pop up! Which says: 

"Your new home for saved images and links - Images you s ave in Google Image Search live here at  Website links you save with the Save to Google extension for Chrome can also be found here.  Tag your saved images and links to easily find them and stay organized."

Pretty cool, huh? The live web view (remember you gotta be signed into your Gmail or Google account to see it) is this! So all your images are saved in the Google Cloud! You can easily delete them, too!

Pretty Darn Nifty, Right? Wanting to know more, I searched around and found this also nifty explanation on how to save websites, like bookmarking!

"To save websites to "Google Save,"  install the Chrome extension "Save to Google."  On the site that you would like to save, click the Save to Google extension.  The extension will open a small window giving you the options to add tags."

"Click View Saved and your site will be saved in your Google Save.  You may be asking yourself, how is this different from the extension "Save to Drive?"  Well, Save to Drive will save the site/image to your Google Drive. The site/image will become one of the many files in your Google Drive.   With Google Save, you saved images/websites are stored in one central location making it easier to organize and search images and sites."  - Tania Moneim

Thanks Tania! That's super cool! 

What do you think? Please hit me up in the comments! (feeeling jiggy with it tonight!)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Shockingly Private Blog Post About Social Media

Is it shocking that I would use such an obvious click-bait blog post title? Shameless! But this post is all about the difference between sharing what is personal versus private on social media.
Why do people TMI share on Social Media?  Maybe because it's titillating! It's shocking! It's attention-seeking and it's usually a bad idea!  Don't get me wrong, I love gossip, tea, shade, and scandal as much as the next squirrelfriend! Heck, I watch most every Bravo show out there, and all but 2 of the Real Housewives franchise.  Even so, I think it's important to keep your interactions on Social Media authentic, real, but always professional. Being positive, passionate, & upbeat is a good thing, too!

(I try my best, I admit I delete a few snarky Tweets now and then after posting [hangs head in shame], usually about the Kardashians, Justin Bieber, TV people, people who don't Google first, and commercials that annoy)

Here are a few examples of what NOT to share.

Ewww! See? That's a WHOLE lotta TMI!   
Here's something else NOT to do on Social Media.
It may not seem fair, but you are what you RT and Like. 
Whether you know it or not, a re-tweet or a like, is an endorsement. Ask any politician or public figure who has felt the heat for it.
So, it's best not to re-tweet bad language or something controversial

Personal versus Private
Sharing personal info shows you're human and authentic.
Sharing too much private info is just creepy! 

Being an educator actively involved with social media professionally, is an optional and a daring choice. 

There are SO many social media outlets out there to choose from - it could either be a mine-field or a diamond mine in terms of connecting, sharing, and creating your own Personal Learning Network or PLN. 
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, our local and our global community.  In other words, I have purposefully and intentionally NOT used Social Media in any kind of personal way. For some, that might seem like a sacrifice - for me, it's been pretty great and sort of a relief.  That's not to say, as you saw above, that I don't occasionally share some personal stuff. Just not ALL the time.  Twitter and Scoopit are my preferred social media tools and I recently added Instagram - because that’s where my kiddos are! 
Years ago I broke up with Tom of MySpace, then Facebook (stop poking me!), but pick what you want, what feels familiar to you and is the best tool for you to be a positive force.  Never vent about school, administrators, or student frustrations via social media!  

Don't Tweet yourself out of a job. If you're at a party (with other teachers or muggles) don't let someone take a picture of you with any kind of alcoholic beverage in your hand. That can be posted. If someone wants to take a selfie, or your picture with friends at a bar or a restaurant, move the pint of beer (or whatever) out of the shot.   
It's just not worth it. Caesar's wife and all that.
On social media you can push the positive and change the world, you can grow professionally by leaps and bounds… or you could get in really big trouble.  
Share thoughtfully, wisely, and well.  

Now, it's YOUR turn!   
Please chime in on the comments, I'd love to hear from you!  What do you think is the difference between personal and private?

by Doug Johnson
Read more about: 

The SMALL Print
Hey, Dear Email Subscribers!  

Thanks to a reader comment, I found out something I didn't know about the email subscription to this blog, that when my post comes to your email inbox - the yellow font doesn't show up on the white background! (Thanks Anon!)  I didn't know that! So, I switched it back and I hope it shows up better or emails and for mobile viewers. I wonder, when I edit a blog post and update it, do you get another email? If so, that would be annoying! Since it seems like I edit my blogs constantly after publishing - always fixing this or that and adding in another thought.  Of course subscribers, you can always click to view the post on my actual blog, but I get how that might be a pain! 

So, even though I Loooove using that colour font, I will try not to use it on the whole post, or only for paragraph headers. How does the colour blue look? I guess I never thought to subscribe to my own blog to see what that's like. (Duh! I should have!) 

Please feel free to comment constructively on this blog, you can even ask that I don't publish the comment, just read it (I would always honor that)  You can also send me an email at gwynethanne (@) - call me out if I'm being too snarky (I was once, and I fixed it! Lesson Learned:  never blog when you have a cold & are already cranky!) Tell me what you think or even disagree with me - I actually LOVE a good debate and I respect everyone's right to a different opinion. That's very cool. Anyway, well, this was supposed to just be a quick aside - sorry - bottom line, I care what you think. It matters. You matter. Thank you for visiting & taking your time to read this. You rock!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Speed Dating by Book Genre: Personal Ads

I've blogged about Speed Dating With Books before - but I really fell in LOVE with this activity - it was a new take on it!

I don't let just anyone guest blog here - they have to be someone I know, admire, & like! (So stop asking me start-ups & companies!)  But Mary Reilley-Clark aka @SEMSLibraryLady is indeed a personal friend of mine, and her latest activity was something that I wanted join in on and to share with you! I'm going to post the graphics I created, with her text, and at the very end of this post you will find links to Make a Copy and take the Google Docs, an Exit Ticket, and the Kahoot game, too!

Stay tuned, my friends - this is going to be fun!

From Mary's original Scoopit share:

"We're speed dating this week. Several 6th grade teachers want their students to explore different fiction genres. I decided to make some personal ads (larger picture & at the end of the post) for different genres or subgenres. I already had resources lists in Destiny for these genres, so it made it easy. We have eleven tables, which we'll load with books and an ad. Students will have to rotate through at least 4 tables. They'll be discussing genres in class, but I made an exit ticket so I can track which are the most popular (I still have one more book order to place.)"

I’m an adrenaline junkie. I like non-stop action, whether it’s with swashbuckling pirates or spies and jewel thieves. Choose me if you like plot twists and lots of cliff hangers.

I’ll leave you guessing until my last few pages. If you like to be puzzled and often left in the dark, pick me up and try to figure me out.

Realistic  Fiction
You tell it like it is. Reality is just fine with you --no need for hocus pocus or playing games. Choose me if you want to hang out with kids kind of like you!

Books That Make You Cry
Grab a box of tissues if you pick me.
I’ll melt your heart in a good way.

I’m the one for you, if you’re into scary or disturbing visions of the future. Clones, microchips, hostile governments, enjoy reading about societies like this, if only to make your own life look more cozy! 

Harry Potter Read-Alikes
Let’s make some magic together! We both love wizards, and wish we went to Hogwarts. Mix us up a potion and get lost in my pages. 

Playing games is my thing! I don’t mean I’ll mess with your head, though. If you’re into a sport, check me out to find your favorite. 

We know unicorns and dragons are real, even if the rest of the world has lost hope. Let’s get together and make our own magic!

Historical Fiction
Do you ever feel like you were born in the wrong era? 
Pick me and let’s go back in time together...

Military Stories
Do you like long walks on the beach, baskets of kittens and meaningful chats over mugs of hot chocolate? Then go look somewhere else! I’ll shape you up with stories of war, soldiers, resistance fighters, with a mix of Fiction and Non-Fiction. 

Global Fiction
You know there’s a a lot more to the world than our little corner of paradise. Pick me, and let’s explore the world together. Warning: some parts of the world aren’t so pretty, but I know you’re ready for a different perspective.

Science Fiction
I believe the truth is out there and that there’s more to the universe than meets the eye. Aliens, life on other planets, alternative realities, and time travel? Let’s go on a voyage of the imagination together!


Here's the Flickr Gallery of Graphics - ALL CREATIVE COMMONS
Here's the Exit Ticket! Go to File > Make a Copy > 
Here's the Google Doc! - Take This! Go to File > Make a Copy > Make sure to see the fonts at the end of the doc and add them on Google to get the full effect!

Here's my Speed Dating with Books blog post! 

Example from Mary of the Personal Ads printed out and on the table
 - See other sizes

More About Mary: 

"I run a middle school library but I'M NOT A LIBRARIAN!  Sure,  I'd love to work with a teacher librarian, media specialist or whatever a credentialed person is called in your neck of the woods.  The reality is, I don't see that happening in my district.  I don't even know when elementary or middle schools in my district had librarians.  What we do have are some hard-working people, working full-time (and then some!) to give students the best library experience we can.    

I've wanted to be a librarian since I was 5, but that job option wasn't encouraged by the feisty and feminist nuns who taught me in  high school.  So I majored in International Environmental Studies, got another degree in Public Health,  and spent 9 years working in three wildly different bookstores to pay my way.  A short stint working for a governmental agency, a change of coasts, marriage, baby, and finally, volunteer hours in the school library.  When the library technician retired, I knew the job had to be mine.  Luckily the principal agreed.  I'm finishing my 14th year as a library media technician, and third in middle school.  That's 2520 days, and I've probably loved 2500 of them (I endure textbook collection, but there's nothing to love about it. But wait-- last year I had five student helpers and they were awesome kids I wouldn't have the pleasure of getting to know better if I wasn't collecting textbooks.  So I loved 2510 of them.)   

I was born to work in a library.  Everything about libraries makes intuitive sense to me.  I love the Dewey Decimal System! And shelving! And reading aloud! And book talking! I don't like silverfish. That's the only downside to libraries.  Why do silverfish like books so much? I also love that technology has made my job even more incredible. Every day I can share new things with teachers and students that I learned from blog posts, Twitter, webinars, and more!  If you're still reading, there are a few more things you should know.  I overuse words like awesome and amazing, as well as the exclamation point.  That's how I talk, too.  I just think a lot of library, book, and tech-related things are amazing, and a lot of the people involved in those things are awesome. I am old enough to be amazed that I can virtually hang out with library people from around the world.  

I share on Twitter & Scoopit about the great resources I've found, what goes on in my library, what I'd like to do in the future, and how I'm incorporating those shiny things I find that other library folks have so generously shared.   I'm a little snarky, and more than a bit subversive when it comes to the library, so anything I write here in no way reflects the policies of my school or district.  My frustrations with budget and technology limits may make it sound like I'm not happy with the powers that be, but I'm well aware they'd be happy to shower my library with books and  technology if they had the money!  I doubt the people who make those decisions will read this blog, but I like them, I really like them!"

From Gwyneth:
I admire and like Mary SO much and she's one of the most talented, generous, and dynamic Library Professionals in California and the country - I hope her fellow California Librarians, Library Associations, and professionals make her welcome and treat her with the respect she deserves. 
She Rocks! 
So do you!


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