Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My top 5 most read blog posts of 2014

This was the first year for the Library Media Tech Talk Blog. The first post was in March 2014. The number of views per month have slowly increased. December 2014 went above 1000 views in one month! Thank you for these views!

Top 5 most read blog posts of 2014

374 pageviews: The Great Gatsby Collaborative Project (11th Grade English)

301 pageviews: The Dust Bowl Collaborative Event (8th Grade)

294 pageviews: Building on the 8th Grade 9/11 Collaboration program in 2014

289 pageviews: September 11, 2001 8th Grade Common Core Project

268 pageviews: Morfo App for iOS - Animate Your Photos for Class Projects

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Collaboration Resolution for 2015...Try Twitter! (Part 1)

If you are interested in collaborating with colleagues across the country (and world), consider using Twitter more in 2015! I created a Twitter account in July 2011. I didn't really start using Twitter as an effective networking tool until the summer of 2014. I'm not an expert, but I do know more now than when I started. 

What are the benefits?

Skeptical about how you can use Twitter? In the short months that I have used Twitter as a Personal Learning Network (PLN) tool, I have connected with hundreds of teacher librarians, teachers, and administrators across the country. My Twitter followers have increased from around 140 back in the summer of 2014 to 841 as of December 2014. I have learned a lot about emerging technology (such as 3D Printing and how school libraries are starting to use it). Because I have an ever growing PLN on Twitter, more people are reading this blog since I use Twitter to tweet out my links to new blog posts. I see numerous excellent daily messages and posts from the people I follow. Twitter is also a great way to network with others when you attend a state or national conference. There are usually always specific conference "hashtags" (a specific place everyone sends their Tweets so all can easily share thoughts) that attendees will use. It's a great way to connect and collaborate with other educators and their classrooms!

I should also mention that it's where many high school and college students are spending their time...

Why it's important

It is fascinating to watch news and information exchanges happen in real-time. Twitter (and other types of social media) have changed how the world gets information and news. As educators, we need to at least know something about this to help students be better consumers of information (no matter what subject we teach)!

After you create an account

Find interesting people to follow. I like finding people that are experts in the field of librarianship, technology, and education. By following knowledgeable people on Twitter, I have learned how to post Tweets and how to navigate (by watching their posts). Like anything else, it is strange at first; but the more time you spend with it, the easier it gets. Don't forget to find people you know that use Twitter! They can show you many tips and tricks. One of my principals is an avid Twitter user, and he has taught me many of the things I am sharing with you!

First steps

I didn't feel comfortable Tweeting at first (especially since I didn't know what to do)! I wasn't sure how to make a 140 character message even work for me. To build confidence, I started by Retweeting messages that I really liked from people that I followed (I still do this). If I see a message I like, I want to share it with those that follow me; and that is exactly what a Retweet does. When you do this frequently, people will notice you are sharing good information; and they will follow you! 

After I felt better about sending out Retweets, I started replying to individual Tweets by tagging them in a message response (mostly thanking them for a great Tweet). You do this by hitting the "reply" button on a Tweet or by putting the Twitter user's "handle" in a Tweet (with the @ sign at the beginning). It would look something like this (I'm using my Twitter handle as the example):

@stony12270 Thank you for sharing the info about 3D printing!

This is enough to get you started on Twitter! Start finding people to follow, follow them, and watch your Twitter timeline. If nothing else, start with the New York Times (@nytimes) or ABC News (@ABC). 

I'll share what I've learned about hashtags and Twitter chats in the next blog post. Both of these topics really made a huge difference in how I have used Twitter in the last 6 months. I can't wait to tell you about it! I hope this has helped you! Until the next post, here is a great article on Twitter tips by Amy Lynn Andrews.

If you found this helpful, please proceed on to Part 2 of this article here.

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Remember to rest!

Now that most of us have visited our families and had at least a week off for the holidays, it's nearly time to start thinking about returning to school for the second semester. Before you do, remember to take some time to rest! It's crucial to disconnect from the stresses of work for a time. I'm learning this important task as I get older (and it is a challenge for me to separate myself from work... here I am writing a blog entry on December 28th).

Take some time to turn off the devices that consume you, and spend time with your close family or friends. Sometimes it is good just to get by yourself and reflect. Whatever you need to do, now is the time! I hope each of you rest and are energized to make a difference in 2015! Happy New Year!

We took this photo at Petit Jean State Park in March 2014 (a great place to rest and reflect!)

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

“Throwback Thursday” Classic Television Library Lunch Program

This article was also published in the Fall 2014 edition of the AAIM Journal (Arkansas Association of Instructional Media). Many thanks to Dr. Michael Mills, Journal Editor, for giving us a voice in this issue! 

By Stony Evans and Misti Bell

The “Throwback Thursday” concept has become a popular way to post old photos to social media outlets.  Last year, one of our library media assistants began posting Throwback Thursday pictures of teachers; students would then guess who was in the photo.  Those guessing correctly were put in a drawing for a prize.  Students and teachers enjoyed seeing the photographs each week and then finding out if their guesses were correct.  This was fun for our students, but more importantly it led them into the library.

This year, we have taken this concept a step further by building our Thursday library/media programs around “Throwback Thursday”.  On Thursdays, in both of the Lakeside High School Library/Media Centers, students have come to expect television programs, video games, and music from the past. Several of us had a brainstorm session about ways we could reach students through classic media, specifically television. We started discussing how we could bring history to life by showing students old TV shows that most of us grew up watching. Then the discussion grew deeper as we explored the possibilities. We realized that there are many different types of evaluations that students can apply to old programs. Students could explore old technology from the 1960s through shows such as Star Trek. It is also possible to broaden the evaluation by having students compare the perfect TV family of the late 1950s Leave it to Beaver with the late 1960s family portrayed in The Brady Bunch. We got so excited about the potential for this program that we held the first session later the same week!

Our initial Throwback Thursday session was held in our West End Library (mainly to 8th & 9th grade); the students viewed the first episode of The Six Million Dollar Man and were asked to write down ways that technology has changed since 1974. The students’ responses to this far exceeded our expectations. Here are some samples:

“When they showed the TV it was a small sqaure cube box. I don’t remember those!”

“Camera focus is not as good as todays cameras.”

“They didn’t have TVs in break rooms.”

“TV (in the show) looks small and blurry with unstylized fonts.”

It was such a success, students asked for more! Our second session the next week featured an episode of the 1960s Batman. We asked students to compare the character of Batman with the more recent Dark Knight movies starring Christian Bale. It was interesting to read the student responses:

“Robin looks right, but he looks more like a kid.”

Dark Knight is better because it is more chilling, dark, and serious.”

“The modern show is more serious and violent (while) the older version is funnier- I like the 60s (version) better…”

“The 1960s Batman characters aren’t as scary as they are in The Dark Knight.- I like the 1960s Batman better than The Dark Knight because it’s not as dark.”

We have found that this has been a great activity to get students to evaluate different forms of media from different periods. We don’t intend for this activity to replace the literacy mission of the library media center. It is just another arm of our ongoing search to get students engaged during lunch. Most importantly, it is a great way to get students to come in during lunch to see what we will do next. We also plan to experiment with this classic television concept in grades 10-12.

Through video gaming, we have already extended this “Throwback” concept into the upper grades.  On Thursdays, students select a retro video game such as: Dig Dug, Mario, Pac-Man, etc.  Students who are normally accustomed to fast paced gaming with more realistic characters are drawn to the old Atari games.  Dig Dug is most definitely a favorite among the high school students.  

The library of the 21st century can be anything we want… a 3D printer makerspace, a place for student led book clubs, a classroom, and even a place to experience the media of decades past. What will you do next in the library to reach your learning community?

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Google Holiday Hangout @ The Libraries!

Our latest Lakeside Squared Google Hangout with Lakeside Junior High in Springdale, Arkansas was a great success! LJHS Library Media Specialist, Mr. Brian Johnson had an idea for us to connect during lunch and have their choir perform via Google Hangouts.

We decided this would be a great way to wind the semester down with some entertaining Christmas music. He asked if someone could perform from our school. I volunteered since I always play a few holiday favorites for students on my saxophone this time of year (I spent 12 years as a school band director, and I still love to play!). For a video sample (from 2010) of this on my YouTube channel click here.

Brian said he could finish the program by reading The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. The students really enjoyed this!

The audio quality was great on our end! It was like watching a video on YouTube the whole time. This was a lot of fun for our students. We will keep experimenting with new ways to use this wonderful technology to connect our schools. For information on our Lakeside Squared Google Hangout book club from earlier this year, click here.

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