Sunday, May 17, 2015

Persuasive Political Vines

I was really excited to work with two great ELA cooperating (student) teachers who are from my alma mater, Towson University. Shout out to Jessica Robertson & Debora Chun! An additional shout out their kind professor who actually had my blog on her "to read & review" list! So, they came to this school already familiar with my blog, how crazy is that? W00t!

So, when they expressed a desire for us to work together before they left my school it was trixy finding 2-4 days between PARCC testing and MAP testing to fit them in, but we did! 

As I mentioned in my last post I first wanted to do a Mystery Skype with an educator in the Dominican Republic because my 7th grade kiddos had just finished reading Before We Were Free. Sadly, after reaching out to, and never hearing back, from all of Mystery Skype educators in the Dominican Republic (Ok, there were only 4!) we had to move on to plan B! or should I say Plan V for Vine!  We tasked the kids to create a persuasive political message and record it using Vine.
Read below, taken from our Wikispaces page.

Vine Video Rebel Message

What if you could make a difference?
What if you could save a life?

Your group has found a way to hack into the local TV station to deliver a 6 second message.It will loop over and over again until the "authorities" can stop it. Brainstorm, plan, and storyboard how you will convey your message.

Are you a rebel and a freedom fighter?

This message should be either exposing what wrong doings you have observed or to give a passionate appeal for help. Think of visual ideas that will be intriguing & convincing. Stop action animation could also be a creative choice. REHEARSE!

Are you a spy?
Create a hidden message in the 6 second video that asks for help or relates secret information. Must relate to the book. Study the information on the wikipage and our research databases about cryptography, encryption, and decryption of secret codes.  Hint: Stop action animation would work well for this! Think of visual ideas that will be intriguing & convincing.

Vine Tech Tips:
Remember, every time you tap the Vine screen, it stops, then you tap again to start the action. That's why stop action animation is SO easy with Vine!  3 clips of 3 seconds of action works the best. Expect to film this at least 3 times before you get the final one! Don’t forget to add the hashtag #BeforeWeWereFree to the description!

Downloadable Storyboard and more are available on my wiki!
I promise to update this blog post when we finish recording the videos - but it may be after my birthday and Memorial Day because we're starting MAP testing again next week. So, stay tuned! Here's a few for now!

Tweet me if you have any questions or leave a comment!
Cheers dears! ~Gwyneth

I met with the student teachers and went over how to record a Vine, how to make a stop action animation with it,  and also to give them a chance to get some Birchbox Bonanza makeup freebies! It's really important to treat your student teachers right, spoil them a bit, it's all about paying it forward.
A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on


Educator's Guide: Before We Were Free | Vamos a Leer

Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez |

Before we were free program guide - - PDF


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Skype: Global Communication Magic!

I am SO excited about the potential of this new technology from Skype and err [cough] Microsoft. But us Mac people... I guess we'll have to wait a little longer. From Richard Byrne's awesome blog: "Microsoft has made Translator Preview open to anyone who is using Windows 8.1 or a preview edition of Windows 10. Click here to visit the download page for Translator Preview." Here's an example of it in action!
OMGosh! I can't wait to try this with my kiddos! I gotta confess, my eyes get suspiciously damp every time I watch this & the look at wonder and astonishment on the faces of the kids! EEP! (Don't judge me! LOL)

I joined Mystery Skype & Classroom hoping to connect with a classroom in the Dominican Republic. I was inspired SO much after watching that video above, I thought my 7th grade kiddos who had just finished reading Before We Were Free would get a super kick talking to a classroom in the country where it was set (and in the same time zone)! But alas, after emailing ALL the educators listed in that country, (ok, there were only 4!) I had to come up with a plan B.  So now, instead we're going to make Vine videos.
Check my next blog post for all about it!


From the amazing Richard Byrne:

Skype Translator Preview Opens to All Windows 8 & 10 Users

Sunday, April 19, 2015

You Don't Have to Marry It!

Education Trends-A-Go-Go
It's SO easy to get overwhelmed with all the new education tech and trends going on in the world.
Genius Hour
Common Core
Mobile Learning
Design Thinking
Google Classroom
Brain Based Learning
Project Based Learning
Learning Management Systems
Transformative Brain Based Learning Spaces

Sheesh....I could go on! It's EXHAUSTING!

Ed Tech Relationship Anxiety

Then....there's all the new technology that you have to get, use, and master! Don't have an unlimited budget or a super generous PTA? OK, now you have to get funding from a place like Donor's Choose. (Which is totally, doable! But does take a wee bit of effort) Once it was Smart Boards now it's Tablets and 3D printers.

Then what? What happens when you run out of money to buy the supplies? OMGosh, again. Exhausting!

Take a Deep Breath, It's OK!

But I'm here to tell you...It's OK. You don't have to try to be the expert at everything.  You don't have to totally flip your classroom making videos yourself to take the place of daily instruction.  You can start by sourcing some great videos already created and add them to your lesson plan. From places like YouTube, Schooltube, & Flocabulary you can add that rich Remix Mash-Up without hours of video editing. I call it the partial flip - having augmented information available for tutorial or reinforcement and to spark student engagement. My Lesson Path (formerly Mentor Mob) on Big Rich Mt. Olympus is an example of this. Curated rather than created content. 

Baby Stepping to Change 
Alternative Ideas to Transformation

Instead of pitching out all of your furniture to create a brain based & friendly learning classroom why not just buy a few bean bag chairs for $39.99 on Amazon to create a comfy reading nook or discussion circle!

Instead of building a whole lego wall or a Makerspace center spending thousands of dollars with expensive equipment. Why not start small and create a Makerspace cart that can roll around the school with bins of Legos, patterned duck tape rolls for crafting, and a couple Makey Makey kits? See below for more ideas & resources. 
And if it doesn't catch on, you lose funding, replacement materials gets to be too much, or it just flops? You haven't invested all that much! But most likely you will love it, your kiddos will go crazy over it, the parents and admin will be impressed and you will want to expand it. Either way - you win! But it's OK to start small & grow!

Instead of stressing about not having tablets to utilize mobile media in the classroom, use your own iPad or smart phone and film Vine video stop action animation book trailers, science experiments, art talks, or social studies history snippets!

Or spark the engagement of Twitter and the ease of Google forms to have the kiddos write a #StoryIn140,  do Twitter style book reviews or QR Code Scavenger Hunts!

OR use QR Codes around the school with Loo Reviews & Pocket videos or 10 Things to do with QR Codes at Back to School Night! It's not the tool it's how you use it!

It's OK to date new technology (or teaching innovation) 
you don't have to marry it!

That's right, the coolest ed tech trends you've heard about at conferences, on Twitter, or during a webinar, you know, the ones that may have also been leaving you awake at night feeling stressed out or inadequate for not jumping in with both feet?  Yeah, those. They don't have to be all done at once! You don't have to overhaul your life, you can just adapt! You can simply "pilot" and "beta test" new technologies and new teaching ideas on a small scale. Then, when you find one you like - you can go steady. Date a while. See how it goes.
When you're ready to commit, you'll know it!

New Tool Trauma
You also don't have to get each and every new tech tool that comes out. Remember the Laser Disc? Buy one for yourself maybe and get good at it. Bring it to school and try it with small groups. My school isn't  a 1:1 or total BYOD school or iPad school. Some of the coolest things I did with QR codes and mobile media in the early days (5 years ago) was with 2 iPod Touch Gen 4's, my own smart phone, & my first iPad. It's NOT what you have, it's the creativity of how you use it. It's the innovation of teaching and not the tool. Tools come and go, the daring spirit to try new things keeps moving on!

Social Media Stress?

There's a LOT of Social Media outlets that are out there - which ones should you join? Which ones should you just be registered to and which should you be actively involved with? Sure, I've blogged about Transparency is the New Black and one of my missions is for all educators to model and create a positive web presence so that they become more visible (and less vulnerable) in their schools and in the communities. But gee whiz, there are only so many hours in the day, right?

If you're a long time reader or follower then you may know that Twitter and Scoopit are my preferred social media tools, that I broke up with Facebook years ago, and that I'm committed to this blog that you're reading now. So, what's your outlet of choice?  Years ago (2008) I created a couple graphics to illustrate that life...err Social Media is less like a fancy Table d'hôte menu and more like a Dim Sum experience...or Tapas!

You can just just try small plate here and there - like it? Get another! Not to your taste?  Push it aside and move on.

Funny how the plates have changed over the years! Second Life and Nings are out and Instagram and Vine are in!

Here's what social media outlets & tools I am active on, followed by those that I have a presence but not a penchant.

The first list means that I'm here at least once a week - if not more.  As a commitment to my profession, I have foregone a personal social media and just maintain a professional one.
That was my choice. I have a formula.
Listed in order of my preference, time, & devotion. Like, we're in love and dating steady, OK?

Wikispaces (Ex: 1, 2, 3, 4)
--------------Just starting out? Stop here!--------------
Ready for more? Consider Adding these!

Blogger - Professional blog
Edublog - School / Professional blog
Scoopit - Curation Tool
Vine  (Instant street cred w/ kiddos - Lesson Idea)
Instagram  (Why?

I'm sorta here, I filled out a profile, but I don't visit very often. It's more to point you to where I really am. Like, we're friends, nothing too serious.

LinkedIn - (Whatever you do, fill out the profile & add a picture! Be where your parents are, because you're a professional, too!)

I tried it, I don't like it, You can't make me do it! Don't poke me!


Now it's YOUR turn! What social media outlets can't you live without? What did I miss? Disagree? Bring it on! Agree? I'd LOVE to hear it! What new trends do you love, hate, & want to marry?

A cool Makerspace cart for around a grand!



Sunday, April 5, 2015

Think Before You Comment

When we comment we model. When we Tweet professionally, we show our kiddos how they should behave online by our example. Or at least that's what we should be aiming for, right!? Creating a positive digital footprint so that our kiddos can see what that looks like.

Ethics: Why Aren't We Teaching This?

I think it's important to teach our kiddos the right and wrong ways to interact with each other. Why aren't we doing this already is more the question!? I'm not talking about basic "home training" I'm talking about creating situations,  throwing out some shade, & seeing how they react. Perhaps work in small groups & brainstorm reactions then have a discussion about the choices.
And NOT just online -- Oh no! Ethics are ethics. Let's  focus on choosing to do the right thing in real life as well as online. How to react with empathy to haters & people who provoke. Have them ask themselves before commenting (in the hallway, at lunch, online, wherever)
Is it kind?
Is it true?
Would you want it said to you? 

Rather than blocking social media sites, or warning against them, I think we need to trust our kiddos but at the same time guide them towards the right ways to behave online and everywhere!
I know "is it kind, is it true?" sounds sorta simple. Heck, It's not even new! The literary history of this goes back over a hundred years to a children's poem (See kids? We've been preaching these ethics BEFORE electricity!) and even ended up as a META misquote attributed to the Buddha.  But I do believe it holds true!  The other part that I omitted is necessary. Have you noticed that our kids have a REAL HARD TIME with understanding, was is necessary? It's a difficult concept for them. Here's where I need YOU! do we teach necessary?  Suggestions in the comments will be updated in this post!
Thank goodness our PLN ROCKS It HARD!
Thanks to libtech student LindsayLand and her comment, I found out about The So What? Test
blog post and graphic by author Austin Kleon
where he says: "The act of sharing is one of generosity—you’re putting something out there because you think it might be helpful or entertaining to someone on the other side of the screen.
If you’re unsure about whether to share something, let it sit for 24 hours. Put it in a drawer and walk out the door. The next day, take it out and look at it with fresh eyes. Ask yourself, “Is this helpful? Is it entertaining? Is it something I’d be comfortable with my boss or my mother seeing?”  I would add, teacher, gramma, potential college recruiter, or the press if you become famous someday!?
As as snarky as I am, I reeeely have to take a moment sometimes to think before I say something. To listen without thinking of what I am going to say next. I've also deleted a lot of snarky & opinionated Tweets and comments. But I also know, and kids need to know, that sometimes with life and the Internet you can't take things back. OK, ok, I've been preachin this for years but I'm very passionate about it!  If we spent even half the time with "Internet life" as we do with "family life" I think our kiddos would go to college a lot more prepared for their public future. Ironically, 5 years later - it's something I think we still could improve upon.

Commenting with Care
Here's a great set of guidelines to share with kiddos for commenting on blogs inspired and adapted from Bridget Compton-Moen and her kiddos of New Zealand that I use on our Daring School Library blog.

1.  Give a greeting – Say Hello! How You Doin? Wassup! Hi or Hey!

2.  Give a compliment about the post: eg, “I enjoyed reading your post aobut..insert topic here.”

3.  Add factual information if you can e.g. if someone has written a post about our MHTV studio, you might add a comment like, “We really like to use The Week in Rap website (or BBC America, The Washington Post, Library of Congress, History Channel, Channel One, etc.) for our TV shows.” Sharing what you care about starts conversations.

4.  Make a connection e.g. if you are reading a post about a school library, special event, or technology tip, you might write, “We also have a TV studio in our school and we are weather nerds, too!”  PLEASE NOTE: Constructive criticism is OK, as long as it’s phrased politely. Comments that are hating or rude will not be published. If we have a typoe though,  (heh heh typoe! get it?) please let us know. We don’t want to look doofusy with spelling & grammar. Nope, that’s not cool!

5.  Ask a question e.g. “What is your favourite book or iPad app?”


7. Sign off using your First name only.
You can also add:  Your grade and your school

Thanks to for her Storm Trooper CC Photos!

Austin Kleon
and his blog post & graphic The So What Test 

Blog Comment Guidelines Adapted with permission from the amazing Christchurch New Zealand classroom blog 8C Happenings by Bridget Compton-Moen @BridgetLCM

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Say Yes! To a School Instagram!

I was recently inspired by teacher librarian Ms. Diana Rendina, to create a professional Instagram account for our MHMS Daring School Library Media Center. Why should you consider it?

“Go where your customers are”

Here’s a quick look at the stats on Instagram.
  • 200 Million monthly active users
  • 13% of all internet users
  • 51% of 2014 high school graduates use Instagram daily
  • 23% of US teens consider Instagram their favorite social network
  • 85% increase in global usage among teens from Q1 – Q3 last year
  • 34% of US teens and millennials (14 – 34) use Instagram

Our kiddos really are not much on Twitter (Shocking. I know, right?) they also think Facebook is sorta fuddyduddy (though they might have one, they don't "live" there) but almost every kid I've talked to lately is big into Instagram and Vine! 
A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on
Alex beside her epic History Day project!
A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on
Creating a professional Instagram account ensures that whenever cool things are going on at school, I can handily snap and share them with our kiddos, parents, our community, & the world! Most teachers have their cell phones with them anyway, why not get together to make it a powerful sharing tool?
A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on
Kids love to tag themselves in the photos! Here's Brently playing with a puzzle ball during Winter Smash in the Library. After you take a picture with Instagram, offer it to your student asking "do you want to tag yourself?" 95% of them jump at the chance & then comment, share, & like the photos of themselves. Sometimes, they'll say "Oh I better not, Mom doesn't know I have Instagram" and small percentage of my kids will say "I'm not allowed to have Instagram yet" All answers are good! I only mention first names. When sharing I also make sure to post the pics to my Flickr and my Twitter. My principal often RT's these photos to his followers!

A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on
Whether it's History day, a Science experiment, a Daring Library Media Lesson, or the school play - students love to see pics of themselves actively involved!
A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on
Like Vine, these social media tools forge a creative bridge with our students.
A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on
Here's a pic from a previously blogged about lesson #StoryIn140. The kids really got into writing Twitter sized short stories - these kiddos were obsessed with pancakes. Go figure! LOL
A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on
Showcase special talents or school events! Here's Palwasha showing off her upcycled folded magazine page bowl! (She made me one, too! Squee!) And check out her sweet comments on the pic above! Awww - made my day!
A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on
Use tools like Instagram and Vine to model a positive use of Social Media, create a cool digital footprint, and to become a professional education photojournalist.

Tying the account to your Twitter and Flickr maximizes and enhances the impact of the share!

Consider creating a school hashtag that you use for all pics taken at school, on field trips, performances, sporting events, or competitions to bring everyone together!

 Pro tip: search Twitter and Instagram first before you adopt a hashtag - you don't want to use one that's already taken or is used to discuss or share things that are NFSS! (Not for school safe ;-)
We're going to try #MHMSMD because just plain #MHMS had a lot of other questionable results. See the results of my search below. 

A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on
Here are 3 little fairies from Peter Pan! Oh Lillian! Has your older sister and my former student Natalie seen this, yet?
A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on
Our Lost Boys are Rocking it! Featuring our own MHTV Daniel D as the Fox!
A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on
More Peter Pan! No comments from any Redskins Football fans.
A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on
Watch out Capt. Hook!
A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on
And here is the amazing Lauren of 8th grade sharing inspiring words from Oprah Winfrey for Black History Month!

Follow us on Instagram & enjoy the AWESOME that is our kiddos and staff!

Consider starting your own professional Instagram account - tied into your professional Twitter & Flickr account  - Oooh social media transparency and the power of making critical connections to our students, families, communities, and the WORLD! Not too shabby, eh whot?
A photo posted by Gwyneth Jones (@thedaringlibrarian) on

The Daring Librarian: Vine Video Summer Book Trailers

Should Schools Bother With Instagram? -

School Systems Blog - Teaching with Instagram (2012)

120+ Amazing Instagram Statistics (February 2015)


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Twitter Analytics: View the Reach of Your Tweets

Ever wonder where your Tweets are going? How many Favourites, Re-Tweets, & Replies? Well, Twitter analytics is here to help!

View graphic in full size

Do they really matter? Nope! Like the number of followers, it's really not about quantity as it is about quality. The quality of the conversations you're having on Twitter. How much are you are sharing, helping, listening, & asking? Are you participating in some Twitter Chats? Are you helping newbies?  Are you contributing to our EPIC PLN? If not, c'mon! We're waiting for you! But if you're really not ready that's OK, too! Keep lurking, listening, & RT-ing!  I try and never give out any social media guilt trips. We're here for you when you're ready to talk on Twitter :-)

Hope this infographic helps!

Your thoughts are always eagerly welcomed in the comments! Give me a break from the spammers, please! LOL Cheers! ~Gwyneth

Sunday, February 15, 2015

7 Day Digital Detox Challenge

Why not give a gift to yourself? Of balance.

Do you sleep with the phone next to your bed? Perhaps binging or vibrating every time a text or Tweet comes in? 

A friend of mine Friday night teased me when she saw my iPhone screen. That I had over 23,000 emails I hadn't read and she told me to take a screenshot. I shrugged & said, well - I don't use my phone for that- I read all my emails on my computer. Is that wrong? She laughed. Whatever. ;-)

"The benefits of a smartphone sabbatical are many. Research shows too much tech can interfere with our sleep, make us feel insecure and more." - HuffPo

The purpose of this 7 Day Digital Detox Smart Phone Challenge is to find a balance in your life between the hectic, frenetic, continuous connectivity to the world and social media with slowing down, paying attention and valuing our loved ones, friends, & family.

Do I practice what I preach? Nahhh! Ok Sometimes! But I hope this infographic helps me to remember, too!

I really like going "off the grid" when I'm at the beach. Sitting on the balcony, fuzzy socks on, sheepskin pillow cuddling, & just reading. For hours.  Just being quiet. I know, for someone who has such a big & voluble mouth. But, ironically, that's also where I've done some of my best writing & blogging! Go figure.

(View Infographic in a LARGE size - once there, click on picture to make larger)
Weed Your Twitter Feed

Unfollow those people on Twitter who don't follow you back using ManageFlitter - or Unfollow those Twitter followers who are inactive and haven't Tweeted in 3 motnhs! I found this an easy to use and effective tool! You can only unfollow 100 people a day, so it may take a while. Right now I have 451 people I follow, who don't follow back. OK, I get it Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket, Neil Gaiman, The Maryland Science Center (Why not!?), or Wil Wheaton - but really AASL? Really? WOW...that hurts.

Have you taken a digital detox? How did it go? Did you stick to it?  I'd love to hear in the comments! 
The photo above was taken by my Mom.  She's awesome.


A Digital Detox Test: Unplug Twitter and Facebook

Digital Detox - Huffington Post

Infographic inspired by an article on Popsugar to help me remember, too!


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