Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tweet Like a Ninja

I've been blogging about my favourite Social Media outlet Twitter for over five years now. From Twitter: The Art of the Follow, header and background design tips with Are You Ready for a New Twitter? to What's YOUR Twitter Formula?

I figured it was time to try and put a lot of these tips into one package. This is a new presentation that I'm still fine-tuning, but I thought I would share it to get some feedback. Below are a few slides to give you a taste, as well as the full embedded Slideshare.

Your suggestions are very welcome - but please remember a lot of these tips are just my opinion or rather, enjoy this disclaimer...

Here's the full presentation - Enjoy! 

I know it's a LOT of slides but I swear
it all fits into a one hour presentation, really!
But it's not as fun without me presenting it LIVE! You gotta believe that! 
So, feel free to Contact & Invite me;  to keynote or spotlight your next EdTech or Librarian conference & give this fun presentation in person. With Bonus snark, amusing anecdotes, & Sophomoric humour! Hashtag Shameless!

Now it's your turn! What would you add? What did I forget?
Please add your thoughts & ideas in the comments! :-) 
The best will be added to the preso w/ attribution, of course! 

Twitter 101 by 

Ps. I'm #NotAtISTE this year - I am taking a digital detox & going on an Ashram & Spa Retreat will not be Tweeting until the weekend. (Unless I can't stand it and sneak, but I'm really gonna try and be good!)  But will definitely enjoy the Tweets after the event whether it's #ISTE2015 or the shorter IMHO better, #ISTE15. Will miss you all dear friends! Namaste!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

There's an Echo in My Library!

Hello Alexa! 
Back in November Amazon announced that it was taking pre-orders for the new Echo - by invitation only. Intrigued, ever geeky, & with a big discount offered as a Prime member - I jumped on it with my own money! (Just in case it was a flop!) It took months of waiting but finally, just a few weeks ago it came and we now have a new information tool in the library!  It's the Amazon Echo! Have you heard of it? The original commercial can't be found anywhere...the goofy family with the mom who had the best facial expressions. There are NSFW language parodies, but not the original one. Womp Womp.
UPDATE! No Invitation Needed Now! In stock July 14th

Since I'm not going to have an assistant full time next year, (don't get me started!) I thought this could be a cool way to answer basic questions. Kids are delighted to discover Alexa, living in the Amazon Echo. Not only is it a fun way for kiddos to learn how to ask the right questions, to speak clearly, it also introduces them to the Internet of Things

Since it's cloud based, Amazon can automatically upgrade and send OS downloads to the device. Is this cool or scary? I say cool!

The new "Simon says" feature is fun to play with. I was in my office checking my email, with the Echo remote handy as one of my 8th grade lunch kiddos came in. I said quietly into the remote "Alexa, Simon says: Hey Mike, it's good to see you again" He just about freaked out! "Ms Jones - it knows who I am!" I rushed out of my office and said, "What just happened!?" Heh heh heh. I even had my assistant, my beloved Ms. Bell, going for a few hours! Yeah, I'm a little bit evil.
Here are some examples of my kids discovering their new friend Alexa! 

We've also featured it on our MHTV news letting Alexa share the weather desk! 

The Amazon Echo was originally available by invitation only & for $50 bucks off for Amazon Prime members.  I requested an invite on November 6th, got the invite and ordered in January, and FINALLY received my Echo in May - the pre-order special deal in November was $100 off - that's why I took a chance! 

Will this tool (I am assiduously avoiding using the word toy) be an asset to our library or a distraction? Time will tell!
List of things the Alexa in the Echo can do in your Library:
  • Get the Title or Author of a book (She knows Harry Potter & Hitchiker, may not know more obscure YA titles)
  • Answer basic factual questions (I'm better at obscure trivia) 
  • Spell and define words 
  • NPR News Flash (Customizable)
  • Tells the time
  • Weather forecast for your location
  • Play Prime or purchased music & playlists
  • Listen to audiobooks from Audible or Kindle Unlimited on your Amazon Echo
  • Teaches kiddos how to phrase a question - this has been fascinating! 
I'm still learning how to do more things, and the kids are, too! Here's more Amazon Help!
But make sure to download the ECHO app and disable the ability to purchase items through the Echo. That was the 2nd thing I did! 

The Echo Does NOT Replace a Librarian!
Dear reader, let me assure you, however,  that NO DEVICE invented will EVER be able to replace a certified Librarian! Only a Librarian can give the necessary context to any information, be able to sift through the results like a surgeon, curate the best, and give all that to the student or patron with a smile.

Feel like you've read this before?
Originally, I had all this info on my Makerspace Starter Kit post, but I decided it deserved it's own post!

 Get Your Charge On!

We also have a new Courtesy Mobile Device Charging Station in the MHMS Daring School Library Media Center! Moving closer to BYOD means that kiddos often come to the media center at lunch to charge up. Nothing too fancy, a tall AV cart with a heavy duty power strip, two super fast charging UNITEK 10 USB port hubs and a couple 4-in-1 USB Charging Cords.

This is just a start! See? You don't have to invest thousands to make a change. It doesn't have to be all fancy shmancy - just be creative and give it a shot! The look on my kids faces when I put that charging cart there was priceless...they were like WOW! And one said, "this is the coolest library in the world" that's better than satchels of gold!

Next school year I'm going to buy more charging cords - one of these already broke. Either Teens are HARD on peripherals or that was a cheapo cord. Probably both! LOL
I may even buy this station on Amazon, inspired by Michael Ahr & the RHHS Library Media Center - their blog & Twitter feed is so amazing! I invite you to follow them! The , Mr. Nick Novak is super inspiring, too! If I ever felt mature enough to move to High School -I'd love to work with these people!

Did you know that there are some super cool Easter eggs built in?
Here's a hint, say "Alexa: Tea, Earl Grey, Hot"
'Alexa, show me the money!' Amazon updates the Echo
Amazon's Echo gets some savvy upgrades - CBS News




Saturday, June 6, 2015

Makerspace Starter Kit

The hot new Makerspace Movement is NOT new to Murray Hill Middle School. Eighteen years ago we designed and opened the school with the idea that we would have creation labs in the Media Center, GT room, and the TV studio. We started with video production, iMovie, Specular LogoMotion, Hyperstudio, and animation with Hollyood High kids. Here's an example of an EARLY (2003) video production called Bookfellas, featuring some Guy Ritchie-esque film direction techniques. These kids are now all grown up and we've kept evolving, too!
It's OK to Start Small!
We recently expanded upon our Makerspace offerings thanks to being inspired by several of my librarian friends in our amazing #TLChat PLN! (Pls see resources below!) Kids can come in during lunch or when they've finished their work to explore, craft, and create in the Library Media Center.
I re-purposed some of my empty study carrels for this Makerspace center at the top corner of our library.  The grouping includes a Lego Creation Station, a Duct Tape Craft Cubby, and a Makey Makey Coding Corner. (heh heh heh worked on those cute name for like....days!)

As I asserted in a recent blog post about new Ed Tech trends, fads, & tech -you can start small and  You Don't Have to Marry It!  Want to dip your toe in the Makerspace Movement?  Do you want to give it a shot without spending thousands of bucks and a lot of commitment? Keep reading!
For the Duct Tape Craft Cubby, I used a spring loaded curtain rod to hold the duct tape rolls, bought a bright blue colored shower caddy for the scissors and other tools. (You could also adapt this idea using a book cart!)
I also bought the hardback book: A Kid's Guide to Awesome Duct Tape Projects: How to Make Your Own Wallets, Bags, Flowers, Hats, and Much, Much More! which I haven't processed but am keeping just on the craft cubby with a big sign taped to it (in Duct tape, natch) DO NOT REMOVE! LOL
For the Makey Makey Coding Corner I used an older iMac computer along with some aluminum foil. (No bananas!)  With the Lego Creation Station I started small. Just a few kits and boards but I had to have that big yellow smiley tub pictured above! Here's an idea starter kit all for about $350.00

Amazon Delivers!

I got all this on Amazon using my district P-Card & free shipping because I shared Prime with myself.
Did you know if you have Amazon Prime you can share your 2 day FREE shipping with up to 5 family members? - SO cool! There are so many perks being an Amazon Prime member, I really LOVE it!

Check out the Makerspace Starter Kit Amazon buying list  (UPDATE: there's a different buying list for my NEW coloring book relaxation station!) 

Check out what I purchased full size - you may have to click twice to enlarge and scroll to view.

Makey Makey Made Simple Simple:
a Crowdsourced Google Doc Tutorial
One of my AWESOME 8th graders, Lillian E., started a Makey-Makey Made Simple-Simple Crowdsourced Google Doc Tutorial. I encourage anyone who is better at Makey Makey than me (and umm...that would be EVERYONE) to contribute ideas, directions, and experiments that you can do with the kit.
PLEASE consider contributing - how cool would it be to create an ever growing crowdsourced resource!? Thank you!
FUND Me! Don't have a spare $350 in your budget? Don't have any $$? Several librarian friends of mine have used to fund their maker spaces - I've personally donated my own money to help them! (I'm winking at you Jennifer LaGarde & Tiffany Whitehead! LOL)  If you're only asking for $350 I think that would go pretty quickly! HINT: Make sure to Tweet out your donation request using the #Makerspace and #TLChat or #EdChat hashtag!

What's really awesome, is that I just put the Makey Makey box next to the computer and let the kiddos put it all together and figure it out. And they did!
GREAT Addition by Lisa Johnson aka @TechChef4u 

Photo by

There are a lot of great resources out there to learn more about the Maker movement, and the best are other Librarians doing even bigger and better creation stations than me! To be honest, I'm just not ready to commit, spend thousands, redesign, and tear up my library yet! (And that's OK! I guess when it comes to this, I'm daring but also conservative - go figure!)
BUT, there are some amazingly creative and adventurous Librarians out there who are, and we can learn a lot from them! I know I'm gonna miss some (maybe you!), so please feel free to add more in the comments!
Library Journal Magazine - the Maker Issue  -A must read for any Making enthusiast! Pay special attention to the Lessons Learned paragraph.
ISTE 2015: Takeaway Tips for a Library Maker Space
Circulating Maker Kits: A Twist on Library MakerSpaces - Teen Librarian Toolbox feat. blog commenter
Follow on Twitter @Makerspaces_com

Photo collage & blog header by
Diana Rendina - Renovated Learning To me, she's THE Maker Guru! I've learned SO much from her and her amazing blog! She's so generous sharing her journey!
- Orchard School Library - Makerspace Donna has done some amazing things in her school library, is a shameless sharer, AND her blog has downloadable Rubrics for Legos & Makerspace! (Photo above is from her blog, too!) Thanks, Donna - you rock!
- The Mighty Little Librarian shares her Makerspace journey with CMS Makerspace: The Beginning

One of my favourite Tweeps & Scoopers, found this duct tape book for her school library in Perth, Australia! Next year I'm gonna get it, too! I can't spend any money right now, that's why I've been spending my own for the last month! LOL 
Get started FAST with this great Amazon deal!

Duct Tape Craft Kit with Book and 12 roll Combo Pack. Sticky Fingers Book and 12 Rolls of tape

Now it's Your Turn!
What would YOU include in your 
Makerspace Starter Kit?
What did I leave out?
Any other cool ideas?


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