Sunday, July 27, 2014

Trashy, Crafty, & Literary: Upcycling for the Win!

I love books.
I love art. 
I love Etsy.
I love funky stuff.
I love recycling and upcycling.
This artist on Etsy combines both!

Nifty & Thrifty Crafter
Meet Kim Franklin (aka) the Trashy Crafter and here's her nifty thrifty story:
"... I love to go to thrift stores, I think mainly because it's such an adventure!  Anywho, my Mom and I were at a thrift store when we saw them throwing out hundreds of damaged and outdated books.  This made me really sad, there had to be someway to recycled them into something useful and beautiful.  My Mom and I grabbed about 50 books and threw then into the back of our truck and headed home.  The books sat in a corner of my tiny bedroom for a few months as I finished up finals for my senior year at UCSD.
Soon after graduating I remembered my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Bryant had taught us how to roll paper beads from magazine paper, but it was so flimsy and not sturdy.  So I thought, why not turn this beautiful paper into paper beads?  And that is how Trashy Crafter came to be…. It morphed into more than paper beads, we make recycled art, paper flowers and home decor. My Mom and I gather all the damaged and outdated books, hand cut, roll and coat the beads one at a time.  We even create the cardboard holders (for the bracelets) from recycled boxes found at the local Costco in San Diego.  This past weekend I didn’t have a craft show so I got to head out to the the thrift stores, which was awesome fun.  I thought I would check out the books to see if there were any really old or damaged books that I could take and turn into beads.  At my last few shows I have had tons of people asking that I start going classic novels instead of just children books. So I am happy to announce along with some great kid books, I grabbed lots of classic novels… a lot of the books were written in, falling apart or had damaged cover.  All of these books were on the last chance clearance shelf because no one was buying them and they had been there forever.  The lady at checkout asked me what I was doing with them, I love sharing the excitement of recycled crafting :) Which one should I start with??? I am so excited!!!"   excerpts from About the Trashy Crafter & Thrift Store Weekend 

I Admit It,  I'm a Fangirl! 
So super cool, right? I mean, she even sorta writes like me! She even has that penchant for the exclamation point as I do!  Visit her Etsy store, check out her pieces, & try and win a FREE bracelet below!
Here's my Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban bracelet set! I also bought a matching pair of earrings - they're on their way!  

School Library & Classroom Ideas!
Old Books As ART
Let's think of ways we can connect to the kiddos about recycling,  upcycling and art!  Books are precious but they are not sacred. When we weed books or withdraw them because of damage, instead of throwing them away or shipping them off - here are some artsy ideas.
Donate them to the art room and suggest to the art teacher a cool collaborative project!
• Transformed book project
• Literary paper mache of actual letters - that spell words!
• Have the kiddos paint in acrylic over book pages that have been gessoed - or watercolour over raw book pages that have been just glued to a board.
• Origami Book Art

Have the artwork displayed gallery style in the school library! Invite the artists to stand by and talk about their work as other classes walk through to view the installation. Why not video tape the artist talking about their project, upload to YouTube - then create a QR Code to the video URL and post next to the work so that later visitors can scan the codes & learn about the artist and what inspired them to create their the art! (above is just an example)
What are your artistic recycling & upcycling ideas? Leave them in the comments also that's how you can enter to win a FREE pair if Trasy Crafter bracelets!

WIN A FREE 2-Piece Bracelet! 
After being in contact with the artist she has generously donated a pair of bracelets for you... my readers as a FUN Giveaway!
Please NOTE You Do NOT have to use Facebook to enter this contest - you can use your email.  In fact, because I don't do Facebook myself (read why) I would go ahead and use my email addy to enter. But hey, that's me. You be you. I like you the way you are! I just don't want you to see that Facebook thingy below and think, darn, not that again! LOL Good luck!
How do you enter to win? Click the widget below for more info! But basically just leave a comment on this blog post as to who one of your most favourite YA authors either contemporary or from your teen years & follow me on Twitter!
Full Disclosure.
If you couldn't tell I am a Trashy Crafter fan!  I was gifted the bracelet set and I bought for myself the matching earrings. It takes a WHOLE HECK of a lot more to buy space on my blog than $25 bucks. Think first class airfare, limo pickup at the air port, four seasons and a bag of tropical skittles. Srsly, I get emails all the time for paid adverts, vendor blog topic suggestions, people asking to be highlighted, and guest blog opportunities from people wanting to get to you, my dear reader. All of whom I say, "Nay nay good budy" and "I've got my street cred to think of!" (Though I do try and say it nicely!)  But this was special to me. ....so much so that I also begged the artist Kim Franklin to donate a random pair of bracelets to giveaway to you dear reader! Couldn't leave YOU out on the upcycling fun, right? You're welcome. [winks]
----
Resources:
50+ Old Book Craft Ideas Pinterest Boards via my pal Donna Baumbach aka Aunty Tech
Connect with your Art peeps on Twitter!  Art Education Hashtags:
#artcollege
#arted
#artedri
#artsed
#ArtsEdChat
#artedri
#artsint
#arteacher  

via CybraryMan's Educational Hashtag page

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Vine Video Summer Book Trailers

(Warning: This blog post may load slowly because of all the embedded videos. 
To hear the audio, click on the tiny speaker in the top left of each video)

Every year I get excited to share with my kiddos our district & local library Summer Reading List (more about that below!) and to try and generate new ways to catch their interest in reading over the break.
This year we decided to create video book trailers using the Vine App! Six second videos that loop with sound. No editing needed, just creativity!
You Gotta ASK For It!
When I originally had this idea, I got permission from my principal and then I emailed & called my district tech leaders Julie Wray @jwwray and Robert Cole @racolej  to see if I could actually do it. Unfortunately, the Vine App wasn't approved yet -sooooo I asked if it COULD be and then I had to scramble to adapt the idea using a flip camera. Luckily, Bob Cole pushed the Vine App through in about a week, and BAM!  We were back in Vine business! Thanks Bob & Julie! You Rock! If you don't ask - it doesn't get approved!
I am posting these videos to Vine under my name because of our Responsible Use Policy.  Vine has been approved for high school students over 13 - but because our kiddos are Middle Schoolers, they create & I post on my newly minted library Vine channel.
Let me assure you that these videos are kid written, storyboarded, and produced. OK, I may have helped a little w/ some creative ideas here and there and held the iPad once or twice....but So cool, right?  Click for the NEW MHMS Daring School Library Media Center VINE Channel!
Why Vine? We wanted a fun, easy way to share video book trailers! With so many of our computers being used for testing, and how long editing takes on iMovie, Vine sounded like the perfect solution! With the added benefit of easy stop action filming built into the App means that kids can experiment and be super creative! Vine videos are easily shareable and embeddable- it's a great vehicle for easy video production. You can embed the videos in two ways, the simple mode or as a postcard. I've shown both types in this blog post.
A Vine for all Seasons & Subjects! 
Vine could be a great project idea for many different subjects. Off the top of my head, quick living history re-telling, public service announcements, science experiment quick clips, artist gallery walk, service learning projects, and healthy living tips! 
Visit our Video Book Trailer Wikispace Page for more directions, tips, a FREE Downloadable Storyboard, & More!
Everything we create is Creative Commons so feel free to Take, Use, & Share! 
The Danny and the Dinosaur Treasury: Three Huge Adventures by Syd Hoff 
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky NOTE: This is a High School book & available at our local library - get your parent's permission to read it! This is a great example of how Vine can be used for stop action videos! (Same as the first video shown on this blog)
 
Percy Jackson and the Olympians Hardcover Boxed Set (Percy Jackson & the Olympians) by Rick Riordan Riordan is pronounced - RYE-or-Dan
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac
 
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green NOTE: This is a High School book & available at our local library - get your parent's permission to read it! OK?
Super thanks to Mrs. Vanderveen and her AWESOME 7th grade first period ELA class for their creativity, talent, fun, & daring to try something new! Want to do this lesson with your students & kiddos? Visit our Video Book Trailer Wikispace Page for more directions, tips, a FREE Downloadable Storyboard, & More! Here's a related video trailer blog post: The Daring Librarian: QR Code Loo Reviews & Pocket Videos


Summer Reading!
Here's our downloadable Middle School Summer Reading List! Created by a Howard County Public School System Middle School Teacher Librarian and a Young Adult Librarian celebrating our A+ partnership with the Howard County Public Library!
Summer_Reading14_Header620.jpg

Download our Summer2014MiddleSchool Reading List PDF 

Speaking of the Howard County Public Library System - let me congratulate them again for being named the Library Journal Magazine - Library of the Year!


Other Vine Tips & Examples
Six simple Vine tips
Vine: 12 Ways to Make Your Videos Stand Out - Mashable
12 //Tips on Making// Better //Vine// Videos | David Lee King
No Budget Book Trailers on Twitter Vine
How to Go Out on a Vine for Social Media

Whaddya Think?
Hey dear readers! Did you notice a change to the blog design? Over the years I've changed my blog header at least twice a year - heck,  sometimes twice a week! But I haven't changed the blog template until now! What do you think? Too much? Or just enough?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

How to Train Your (New) Principal

I hope that the blog title got your attention. It was designed to! But you may ultimately find it misleading. Please keep reading!

Before any admins out there start sharpening their pitchforks for me, I gotta say that I really don't think teachers need to train new principals.
Principals come to us already accomplished, trained, vetted, and hand-picked.
Nor are principals really dragons...but then again dragons ARE protective! And a new principal does sorta have to take control of the school which may include a little fire breathing now and then.
Are you still with me?
The conversation I really want to have is with YOU - or rather, with US!  The classroom teacher, school librarian, and educator of any subject who is NOT in charge of a whole school.   I actually think it's the teachers and staff that needs to be trained to be more tolerant!

Cut Me Some Slack!
Why do we seem to give all kinds of slack, assistance, mentoring, and help to the first year teacher but we are all too critical of a first year principal?  I don't think that's fair!
Administration, of ALL jobs, is one that you can only learn while doing. I imagine you can take all kinds of grad courses in Administration but until you sit in that office, walk the halls, bust a move at bus duty, take the parent phone calls, lead a back to school night, or manage a lunch shift - you really don't know what it's like to be an administrator. Because really? Shouldn't we have empathy for that job?
And whew! I don't EVER ever want to be an Admin! That's one job I know I would fail - obvi!  And that's....OK! I think it's working for me as Teacher Librarian and tech leader! See? I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Here's my Tweet last week before starting this post.
Teachers: Be Kind. Be Patient. Be Positive.
We teachers can talk....a LOT! But when we do, I think we need to remember to be positive. We also need to also be kind and patient. I have always believed that a principal doesn't really "own a middle school" until the 6th graders become 8th graders and that any kid who knew the old principal was gone. That's right, it takes three whole years! So, I don't think you can't really judge a new principal the first year. Give them two - three years...like tenure, to settle in! 
If you're an "experienced" teacher (20+ years) like me, new or younger teachers will look to you either unconsciously or subconsciously to learn about your school culture. How does what you say reflect you and your school? A LOT! Don't be the teacher that is a toxic bad mouther or Debbie downer.  Snarky is OK, just try and direct it towards situations or the Kardashians and not students or fellow teachers.

Don't DIS! Talkin Trash & Throwing Shade.
I try to never to "dis" my admin.  It's not honorable, it's not professional, and it's just not cool to be disrespectful or disloyal to your leaders - past or present. This can be challenging if you had some admins who were umm quirky. I've been blessed with having principals who were very supportive of me and our library media tech program. Were they perfect? Nope. But I'm not either!  I try to appreciate and focus on the best in people. I know, pretty Pollyanna, right? [cue eye roll] Which doesn't mean I'm a saint, or that I don't like to gossip now and then. I'm human! But I try to keep the tea and the shade relegated to the idiocy of the Bravo Real Housewives franchise!  Oh and and I hope it goes without saying that social media venting is verboten!

A Few Principal Tips:

• Get to know your new administrator - what they are like as a real person (but don't stalk them!)
• Don't compare them to previous principals (Never say "Well, Mr. so and so always did this - or Mrs. never this did that")
• Listen when they talk to you - without thinking of what you are going to say next (this is hard for me - I get nervous and start to babble)
• Be positive about your situation (Don't bemoan or whine)
• Advocate for yourself, your program, your class BUT be a team player (Yes, I'm doing lunch duty for the first time in 17 years and though it limits teaching some classes, it's great seeing the kiddos in a different venue! Being a cheerful not begrudging team player is good thing.)
• Be understanding if they stumble or fumble (Wouldn't you hope for that, too?)
by maggie khun
• Don't go to them with a critique or complaint without a suggestion on how to fix it (I learned this from my former awesome principal, Mr. Vince Catania)
Don’t be afraid to speak up and share an idea! (This is from my Midwest friend Dr. Justin Tarte, who wrote: "You bring a new perspective and a fresh set of lenses to the table, so be sure to share your thoughts and insights in a collaborative and collegial manner." - 10 things I want all new teachers to know)
• Get Admin permission before you try anything radically new, out of the box, or daring (You never want to take your principal by surprise by a parent phone call! IE:  I'm daring - not stoopid!)
• Document and share the cool things going on in your class or area (This might be a good time to start an Edublog!)
• Don't waste their time with small change or piddling issues (Teachers don't like it when Admins micromanage them, so try not to Macromanage your principal. For example, don't CC them on every email, that's not CYA - that's just annoying.  Don't use them to circumvent a teacher you may have issues with -that's just passive aggressive and will make you look petty. Save your principal for the mountains not the molehills  -Wow, I'm using a lot of cheezy idioms today!)
What should I add here? What did I forget? Add em in the comments and I might edit & add them in!

Haters Will Hate
I know it's not cool to look like a suck up, brown noser, or sycophant, but if you get unwillingly caught in a "let's bash the principal conversation" - say your piece or just "remember a task," smile and walk away.
Here's an example of what your piece can be:  "give the guy/gal a chance - so far he's been fair to me and I like how he's seen in the hallways and talks to our kiddos"  Or something both truthful and positive. 
Got a lot of hating going on in your school? There are always "that group" of toxic people - and they LOVE to recruit!  Don't give it energy! And don't for a minute believe that it won't somehow, someway get back to your admin, too! 'Cause it will.  Also, after a long time principal leaves his followers and those who he has brought in will most likely leave. I've experienced that a large turnover of a school's teachers happen every 5 years or so. If you want to move, move. If you want to stay - have an open mind & always keep the kiddos a priority. Lady Gaga on Twitter, Haters, & Change 

Even though my new principal, Mr. Joshua R. Wasilewski, has said we could call him by his first name, I don't feel comfortable doing it. I'm afraid I will slip up in front of the kiddos plus - there's a respect factor there for me that I really believe in. No matter that's he's a few [cough] years younger than me (When did that happen? When did principals get younger than me!? LOL) I really respect my new principal and he's doing a great job! He's there - in the hallways, in the classrooms, he smiles and talks to the students. He has even gone out during recess and played hoops with the kids.  He shows true interest in our staff and our community.  He's been supportive of me, our library media program, & our TV Studio. He's also Tweeting AND he's even helped me with my SLO's!
Now if he could only take away my lunch duty.....Just kidding!
Let's give first year principals time to get their feet wet, grow into the job, bond with the kiddos and always remember to be loyal and supportive. Teach your principal that they can trust you.  Every day.  Be kind. Be patient. Be positive. Be Professional.

New Principal Resources:

The postings above are from The Connected Principal blog - which is an amazing site that comprises the "shared thoughts of school administrators that want to share best practices in education. All of the authors have different experiences in education but all have the same goal; what is best for students."  I really think this blog is a "must share" with your principal. Maybe even encourage them to contribute! I just wish they would get a slick graphic blog header - it's too plain, it doesn't embody it's awesomeness! But then again, you know I have issues where graphics are concerned

I also really admire Principal Eric Sheninger,  his Tweets & blog are truly inspiring! I consider him as one of my online Principal leaders. Thank you Mr. Sheninger for your generosity and vision for our schools and our kiddos!

On a Personal Note: Turn Challenges into Blessings
OK, I put this last because it's a little personal - you can stop reading if you wanna, I'll just cry on the inside! J/K
This school year I had a triple challenge which turned out to be triple blessing.   Last summer I had a total knee replacement fixing a knee that was hurt 10 years ago in an impact injury, my (only ever) Media assistant of 20+ years had the nerve to retire [grins ruefully] and I had to train a new assistant for the first time and one I wasn't given a chance to interview or help hire. Oh! and I got a new principal.
I was really nervous about all three. And guess what? It all worked out AWESOMELY! Knee feels much better, my new assistant Ms. Kathi Bell is amazing and every day is fun learning with her, and my new principal rocks! SO WIN! Whew! I originally wrote 3 long paragraphs here going into detail then I realized it was WAY too much information! LOL When blogging, try and differentiate between sharing and cathartic unloading!

Thanks for reading!  This time of year I seem to get reflective. And maybe a bit verbose.  I even wrote a blog post called Time and Tide Reflection that gives some thoughts to teachers about a "mental wrap-up" for the school year.
I always think and try to say to as many who will listen, that we have the BEST JOB in the whole world! I truly celebrate the passion and the privilege that I have to be a teacher and a librarian.
Why? Because every year we get a new start! All the mistakes we made or things we forgot to do we can do next year!  And the kiddos....they are amazing! Yeah, Pollyanna. Sickening. I know.


 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Books Beyond Borders & Wazzup Wattpad?

We love connecting with other kiddos in schools in other cities and states. Our sister library is  Central Middle School of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and we had a great time the other day chatting with them about books! Books Beyond Borders with Google Plus Hangout

Our friend & one my librarian mentees, Mrs. Tiffany Whitehead, excitedly emailed that she was being filmed for a local news segment and she wanted to show off our long distance cooperative relationship and highlight cool tech with a Google Plus Hangout! FUN! Amazingly, we were in between testing windows & thanks to my fantastic 7th grade ELA teacher Mrs. Krieger for being spontaneous and jumping on board with this cutting edge conversation!
It was lots of fun!  Both groups of our kiddos picked out books they loved & wanted to share and did quick book talks.

This has been such a banner year for Tiff! She has been named one of  Library Journal’s 2014 Movers & Shakers, an ISTE’s 2014 Emerging Leader, and she got her national board certification! We have both been mentored by the amazing and generous Dr. Joyce Valenza!  Truly, I'm so proud of Tiff! She's hard-working, positive, reliable, creative, funny, and innovative. She's both mighty and daring! LOL OK...enough of that, don't want to gush or anything!

You can view the video on the WBRZ website, I'd embed it here but it annoyingly auto launches and plays over and over and I just can't do that you, dear reader! And though the segment says we're in Washington, DC we know we're in Laurel, MD and just part of the DC Metro area! It's all good!

My cool new principal, Mr. Wasilewski even Tweeted about our class!--
 

Wazzup With Wattpad?

We also learned from Stephanie about the Wattpad App - a FREE fan fiction open forum for writers and readers!  OR read digital books for FREE!

Or as Wikipedia says it's "a writing community in which users are able to post articles, stories, and poems about anything either online or through the Wattpad app. The content includes work by undiscovered and published writers. Users are able to comment and like stories or join groups associated with the website. Around half of the users are U.S. based; most users also come from the U.K., Canada, the Philippines, Australia, and more."
Let's look at the Wattpad stats!
  • 85 percent of its traffic and usage comes from mobile devices
  • 25 million unique visitors per month
  • over 1,000 story uploads per day
For more information about this App read: What's Up With Wattpad? | by David Gaughran

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 & a reflective circle 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

Sunday, May 18, 2014

What's YOUR Twitter Formula?

Twitter: Professional or Personal?
When I speak to groups, I often talk about how I use Twitter as my main source of rich professional development and as a transformational PLN builder (Personal Learning Network).
I don't use Facebook personally or professionally at all. If you've been reading my blog or follow me on Twitter you know that we broke up a few years ago.  Read Dear Facebook, We Need to Talk.

I think every Twitter user has some kind of  formula for their Tweets. For me, (and this SO not scientific though I did have to get my calculator out!)  I Tweet 82% ed tech & library, lesson ideas, curation and content building, being a shameless sharer and giving back to my community. I want to give more than I take. I try not to Tweet in an echo chamber.    8% pop culture - Doctor Who, Real Housewives, Sherlock, etc, 4% personal - the random and oft times inarticulate sophomoric thoughts going through me heid, my travels, Oh and weird dreams.
Don't be a Funpire!
I'm gonna linger here for a min and get on my soapbox. If you use Twitter to vent, moan, and complain about every little thing that sucks in your job or your in your life, if you focus on the toxic rather than the transformative - I doubt you will get many followers. And certainly not me. What is a Funpire? Someone who sucks the fun out of any occasion, Tweet, or situation!  In my real (and online) life, I distance myself from toxic people.  I like to think that I am an annoyingly optimistic person by nature, and though every one has a need to kvetch now and then, it does little good and really, no one wants to hear it. This goes for the staff lunch room, too! Don't be THAT teacher. Don't join in on the moaning brigade - just like bullying - you can do something. You can say "Hey, but you know at the end of the day we have the BEST job in the world, what are you doing this spring break, summer, or next snow day?"
I vent to my friends over a pint in real life and keep it off the Interwebs. This way your parents, principal, or administrator can't see it!  
Don't Tweet yourself out of a job!
Skim quickly through your Tweets - see how many are sharing good info, encouraging another educator, positive, or how many are just whining or whinging. Human nature, perhaps, but not inspiring. Also, if you want to use Twitter as a professional platform, this is perhaps not the place where you Tweet over and over and at length about your children and their every cute thing or their poops, please keep that for the mommy chat on Facebook.  There...[hops off soapbox] I know that's gonna be unpopular but that's my opinion.
Geekery & Zombies, Oh My! 


5% of my Tweets are Geekery - gadgets, new techie toys, memes, tropes, and geeky stuff. There's a long time Geek inside me - I've been a member of the SCA, many time periods of Historic Re-enactment, I've gone to Pennsic, I've hand-sewed garb, I lived a Steampunk Virtual Victorian Second Life, I've even.....yes..I'll say it - I've LARPED! There, it's out.  Hi! My name is Gwyneth and I'm a Geek.  

1% of my Tweets - Zombies! Of course if you add that to my Pop Culture & The Walking Dead...well, that's like 9%? Look! If you've not prepared for the ZA (the Zombie Apocalypse) then you're just taking a big chance! Prepare! I'm heading north west - maybe West Virginia - find myself a high mountain with a spring fed stream and a good vantage point. I have a 6 foot hand forged Iron Age copper spear - I need to get a machete and a bug out bag - with my bad knee I don't know how long I'll last but I know what to do....and what NOT to do. Have I thought about this way too much? Maybe - or maybe you've thought about it way too little! [grins and winks] Ya never know!


Twitter is a Conversation. 
Now, this is again my opinion - but I consider Twitter as a conversation. Some people do just Tweet OUT to the world.
@GuyKawasaki is one of them, and he's AMAZING! My friend & mentor the astoundingly smart and generous Dr. Joyce Valenza is another. She rarely banters back and forth on Twitter - that's just not her style. She does provide thousands of curated and selected resources for educational practice and growth in her Tweets. And that's, OK! Heck, that's Brilliant. But for me Twitter is a conversation.  I do try and answer questions (but do Google first, please!) and I try and pitch in with brainstorming and I try to stay human. Imperfect. Snarky. Sophomoric.  But you know, that's OK, too!

What's YOUR Twitter Formula?

I'm working on a long term blogging project, a Slideshare preso about Twitter - it may be a while in coming - but I thought I would release a part of it here and there as I go along - to get your feedback!
Thank you for your awesome thoughts & opinions! If I use your additions I promise to use attribution! Cheers!

Twitter quote graphic made with Recite This!


 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Are You Ready for a New Twitter? It's HERE!

Irony of ironies!
I recently worked a few nights madly and happily Photoshopping & designing a new Twitter look for our school's Twitter page! (it's still not perfect! & best viewed on a big desktop screen) when I heard that they're soon changing the look and design features of Twitter altogether! What the what!? Doh!
(It's HERE! See Update below!)


According to Mashable, they're making it look a lot more like Facebook.  You know how I feel about Facebook, right?

Change Happens.
When Twitter changed their profile look a few years ago, I was Gwynnie on the spot figuring out how to make it look cool & I shamelessly shared my tips, too! Added to that my Twitter At-A-Glance and my Twitter: Art of the Follow comics, I try and keep up with Twitter trends.  Heck I could do a collection of screenshots of Twitter's morphing looks. So, it comes as no surprise that they're changing it again. You probably won't notice much if you use a Twitter client like Tweetdeck or HootSuite, (in case you're wondering what I use - neither! ...I like the straight computer version of Twitter) but I gotta tell you - having a good looking Twitter background IS important! The first things I encourage new Twitter users is to break that egg and add a profile picture, write a banging profile description, include your location (at least country & time zone), add a link to some professional website (school, wiki, blog, Flickr, something that legitimizes you!) and to customize your Twitter background.
Why? Keep reading!


Dahling, You Look Marvelous!  
or Your Twitter Background is Your Branding Billboard
I'm working on a new preso & blog post (it's gonna be a long one!) about how to be a Twitter Ninja! But as a preview let me remind you that when people see your Tweets during a conference or an #EdChat or #TLChat they click on your name and POP goes up the profile quick view! That's why it's super important and a great opportunity to craft your brand or to at least look tech savvy and snazzy!

Mine looks like this now and of course I just re-designed it when I re-designed my school background.  The DAY that the new design change was announced! [she bangs head on keyboard]
Twitter hasn't rolled out the new look to old users yet, only new ones! (I keep checking!) but if you want to get a head start you can design one that's 1500x500 but do note that the tool bar at the top will take up or cover about 55 pixels  and the bottom toolbar 65 pixels.
UPDATE!!!!! 
I feel like Steve Martin in the sophisticated oeuvre movie, The Jerk! I want to run out jumping up and down yelling "The new Twitter is here! The new Twitter is here!" instead of phone book! Just a couple days after I blogged about this (it's Wednesday 4/23) Any Twitter user who wants the new look can get it! See my new updated profile below. Then all the specs I guessed at...they're all pretty good! I still had to play with the graphic to get it right in all views!
I really like the new "Pinned" or featured Tweet! But don't forget to change it once in a while! Especially if you use Tweetdeck! The new look (I refuse to call it the Facebook look) is wide and expansive. Here's the full size screenshot
Here's how it looks when someone clicks on my name in a Tweet - see why I centered the Tardis? Even though it's sorta cut off the top in the full size view?  In this view it looks pretty cool, huh? It's like my head is FLYING out of that Tardis! Geek heaven! It took a few tries to get it right, even when you have a .PSD Template! 
Want a Template? 
DOWNLOAD THE TWITTER HEADER PSD TEMPLATE HERE
Thank you @CTSocializer for this Template! You should also check to see what it looks like on an iPad, a big desktop, a laptop, a phone, well....everywhere you can! My new header doesn't look all that great on my iPad mini but looks OK on my regular iPad! It's a give and take. Until they change it again, right?! LOL

Thank You Channing Tatum!
A choice few celebrities got the new look early, that's why I'm showing you Channing Tatum's Twitter profile as an example (and not just because he's amazingly funny, talented, & gorgeous!) So that's how I figured out by taking screenshots and measuring with Photoshop the image sizes - and also because there aren't any .PSD templates out there yet!  Another thing to keep in mind when designing your new Twitter background when it's viewed in the chat pop up it will be cropped to a centered 515 pixels (do don't put anything too super cool on the sides like I did above!
Sometimes you gotta play with these things! View the full size of the example to get a better sense of how it's gonna look for you!  Please note: all sizes are approximate - I'm a geeky amateur! 
No Photoshop? No Problem!
If you don't have Photoshop, use PicMonkey!  When you get there select design then custom and put in 1500 and 500 OR upload a very big picture and crop it to 1500 X 500.

Just the (Approximate) SPECS!
  • Twitter background image should be 1500 wide by 500 high 
  • Your profile picture will be a LARGER 200X200 pixels
  • The image will be covered by the tool bar by 55pixels on the top and 65 pixels on the bottom
  • When viewed as a pop up during a chat the Twitter profile will center crop the image to 515 pixels and will show your profile text, location, and your website link.
BONUS Just for YOU, Sweetie! 
What's YOUR Twitter formula?
So dear readers...tell me in the comments  
What did I forget?
Would you read a blog post or enjoy a preso on how to be a Twitter Ninja with all kinds of biased opinions & tricky tips?
Are you ready for this change?
What Twitter client do you use, if any? 
Have you ever tried using Photoshop Elements? (It's hard!)

Resources:
6 New Features of the Twitter Redesign You Should Know About

Coming soon: a whole new you, in your Twitter profile

Twitter Begins Wide Launch Of New Profile Design


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