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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Friday, November 14, 2014

Tellagami app for iOS

This month's blog is authored by LHS Library Media Specialist, Mrs. Misti Bell

Tellagami is a popular app that our teachers are beginning to implement into their lessons.  This app allows you to create a gami; a gami is an avatar.  You make the decision for how you want your gami to look, act, and speak.  Tellagami is a free app; however, there is a paid version if you are looking for more variety for your gami. 

Book talks, reports, speeches, and presentations are just a few ways that Tellagami can be used in your classroom.  A student will be able to use his own voice to record what his gami will say.  Tellagami adds an innovative technology piece to the classroom, providing the student with a hands-on opportunity to create and then present the gami. 

A verbal book talk in front of the class with a detailed hand written outline is a method that we are all familiar and comfortable with; however, we, as educators need to integrate what our students are comfortable with as well…technology!  As stated in the November, 2014 issue of Edutopia, “ Technology helps make teaching and learning more meaningful and fun.”  Tellagami is just one way to do this!

Click here for our brief YouTube video about Tellagami!

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Building on the 8th Grade 9/11 Collaboration Program in 2014

We continued our September 11, 2001 collaborative program for the 2014-2015 school year! It has been a favorite of students and teachers since we first unveiled it in 2012 (for a detailed description of this common core program/ book talk click here). The success of the program centers around the story of Navy SEAL, Adam Brown. Adam grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas and attended school at the Lake Hamilton School District. He overcame many challenges in his life to become one of the most respected SEAL warriors in the United States Navy. He gave the ultimate sacrifice in 2010 while protecting our country. Our students can easily connect with Adam because he is from the Hot Springs area. They absolutely love reading the book (Fearless by Eric Blehm). We are always overjoyed to see the books fly off the shelves following this program each year!

This year we had the opportunity to connect on webcam with Lake Hamilton Junior High all day during the collaboration via Google Hangouts. Thanks to our colleague, Mrs. Shea Gregory (who previously worked with us at Lakeside and was just hired on at Lake Hamilton this summer) and Library Media Specialist, Mrs. Jill Heard. I should also add that Mrs. Gregory helped us design this program in 2012! Both worked out a schedule, so that we could give our presentation each period to Lakeside 8th grade students in our library. This was simultaneously presented to their students across town in the Lake Hamilton Junior High Library Media Center via Google Hangouts!

(Jill Heard and I tested the webcam setup prior to the event to ensure everything would work correctly- you can see her on the screen giving a thumbs up.)

On the actual day of the presentation, there were a few occasional lag problems with audio/ video, but everything went very well. Both groups of students were very engaged during each session.

We mainly used the webcam for the introduction to Fearless and the military style briefing presentation (this is were Library Assistant, Ray Borel, presented information about the many acronyms and various military information mentioned in Fearless). The second day of this program consisted of several learning stations (described here) that help students understand the events of September 11th.

We asked our students to give us feedback at the end of the program on a Google Form. One of the questions was "Tell us how you felt about the Google Hangout with Lake Hamilton Junior High." Here are some of the encouraging highlights:

"I would have liked to hear more from them. We didn't really talk to them except for when we said hi. but on the other hand I have never done that at any of my schools and would like to do it more"

"I liked it. People can finally learn and have fun with Lake Hamilton instead of being rivals... I guess the Internet brings us together."

"I thought the Google hangout with Lake Hamilton Jr. High was pretty fun, even though we didn't talk to them much it was cool to interact with people from a different school."

"I enjoyed doing the Google Hangout with Lake Hamilton! The reason why is because I have a lot of friends that go there so it was a pleasure being able to interact with them and see their faces!"

I want to thank Mrs. Mari Simmons (8th Grade English Teacher), Mrs. Meg Parker (8th Grade English Teacher), and Mr. Ray Borel (LHS Library Assistant) for supporting this collaboration! Also many thanks to Mrs. Shea Gregory (Lake Hamilton Junior High 8th Grade English Teacher) and Mrs. Jill Heard (Lake Hamilton Junior High Library Media Specialist) for giving us the opportunity to connect across town! What an honor to collaborate about Adam Brown with his Alma Mater, Lake Hamilton!

I think this was a great success! We hope to do more collaborating and connecting with other schools using Google Hangouts this school year! I think it is important that students learn to use and experience this technology in the classroom. I believe this is crucial since many of them will use a more advanced form of this technology to connect and collaborate in their future careers!

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Monday, October 6, 2014

What direction should we take our library media centers in the future? Part 1: Makerspace

I just attended two days of the Arkansas Library Association Conference in Hot Springs, Arkansas. While there I heard a great keynote from futurist, Garry Golden.

He brought forth some important points we should all consider. One of the most important concepts I walked away with was that "libraries are destined to become social spaces and makerspaces in the next decade." I agree with this idea! Since this summer, we have been trying to master the new MakerBot 3D Printer in our high school library media center. Students (and teachers) are still experimenting with this new device.

For those of you that have never seen a 3D printer, it is essentially an open box with a print head that moves over a small platform. It uses spools of plastic (that look remarkably like what your weed eater uses) that come in different colors. The print head heats the plastic and shapes it into the form programmed into the printer.

One of our high school students helped print a geometric shape for one of our math teachers!

You can either download countless designs off of the Internet from sites such as the Thingiverse, or you can use a 3D tool to create your own files such as Google Sketchup Make. We are still learning how to use Sketchup Make, but students have created simple shapes successfully with this free software.

At the ArLA keynote, Garry stated that 3D printing will help develop the future of design and engineering. In the not so distant future, 3D printers will be everywhere. Rather than purchasing a broken part, we will be purchasing the file online to print; or we will design our own replacement part using this technology. There are already 3D printer created saxophones, prosthetic human hands, and according to the conference keynote speaker... jet engine valves!

We will continue to provide a makerspace for our learning community! I would love to see students creating artifacts that accompany concepts they are exposed to in the classroom. Imagine students printing a 3D human heart or a plant cell. The possibilities are endless! Thank you, Garry Golden, for making us all consider the future. I'll be keeping an eye on your website to see what trends are on the upcoming horizon. The school library of the future will be a wonderful reading space, makerspace, and learning space... more thoughts to come in another blog.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

What Great Things Are You Doing?

I started this blog only six months ago. As I write this, the blog has been viewed over 2800 times! Thank you for viewing these pages! I chose to author this blog because I wanted to share successful programs and activities that we have implemented at Lakeside High School. Virtually everything I write about is a collaboration between our library staff and the faculty!

Continuing the spirit of collaboration, I want to invite you to tell us what great ideas you are implementing in your schools and library media programs! I would like to share some of these great ideas here on the blog in a future entry or at least have some good discussion in the comments section below. Let's get some interaction going! Feel free to comment below or email me at either or If you have pictures, please send those too!

I look forward to reading your ideas and sharing them with our library staff! We are always seeking new ways to reach our learning community!


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Monday, September 1, 2014

Morfo App for iOS - Animate Your Photos for Class Projects

While attending a technology training in 2013 at our local educational cooperative (Dawson Education Cooperative), I learned about an app that will allow you to animate photos. The app is called Morfo, and it is free! You can animate a photo of a person that you take with a device or a picture that you find online! It will allow you to record up to 30 seconds of audio in a movie format in addition to making the Morfo animated face show basic expressions (smile, frown, scowl, etc). You can even make your Morfo headbang to a rock beat! (Students love doing this.)

I would like to briefly share about how we have used this app over the last two years. I will also provide student example Morfo videos. Finally, I will share a link to our new YouTube video showing how to use the app!

How We Got Started With Morfo

While visiting with our Spanish teacher during a brief lunch break in March of 2013, I told her about this new app I had learned at a tech training. (I like to take advantage of any opportunities to share apps that might be useful to teachers!) I told her she might be able to use it with her classes to have them say something in Spanish and record a video. She was very interested in the concept. She had been looking for a way to utilize our new iPad carts that were available for checkout to classrooms. 

She decided to have her students create a Morfo. They had to tell their name in Spanish in addition to telling how they felt (happy, sad, etc) and make the Morfo reflect that feeling using the available facial expressions. I visited the classes at the beginning of each period to show them the basics of using Morfo. We showed the students how to save the Morfo movie on each iPad, and we had them upload it to a laptop computer in the classroom into a folder for each class period. The next day the students enjoyed their Morfo presentations in class. It was a great success. We did the same project again during the next school year. (It was a favorite of the Spanish teacher and students!)

French Classes Use Morfo

The next school year (2013-2014), we had a new French teacher join our high school faculty. She expressed interest in using technology in the classroom with her French students. I shared this app with her (and the success we enjoyed with the Spanish classes the year before). She agreed to check out an iPad cart. I showed the students the basics of using Morfo prior to starting the project. 

She had these requirements of the students for this French Morfo project: 

They had to include the following items (They had to speak in sentences.):
Descriptions, with adjectives (Ex: I am blonde, funny, and smart)
Descriptions, with nouns (Ex: I am an athlete and a sister)
Description with reason (Ex: I am lazy because I like to sleep)

Here are two videos that were among the best from the French classes last year (We secured permission from these two students.):

The following is a reflection from the French teacher:

"It was one of their favorite things, and I counted it as a speaking assessment grade.  Most students preferred this to any old-school version of reading or memorizing things from a book. This gives them great practice on telling truthful things about themselves.  We all loved it.  And We all loved watching the videos in class together."

There are many potential uses for Morfo in the classroom setting. You could have students pick a President and have that President give a speech (While students are limited to only 30 seconds for each video, it would be easy to record a chain of several 30 second clips, then connect them together using simple video editing software such as iMovie or Microsoft Movie Maker). The possibilities are endless! Civics and Social Studies classes are already planning video projects that will utilize Morfo later this school year (2014-2015).

Keep Reading Below! 

We Are Now On 

Please take a look at the following link for a crash course on creating a Morfo from the beginning! This is our new YouTube channel called "The Library Guyz". We plan to use the channel as an extension of this blog and as an extension of the library media center! Please, subscribe to our channel if you would like notifications of new videos that we post in the future. Click HERE to visit our YouTube video about Morfo basics!

Please, let us know if this helps you! We plan to create more tech help videos soon!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Great Session of Technology Professional Development with our History Department

One of the many things I enjoy doing as a School Library Media Specialist (SLMS) is teaching teachers and students about great educational tech tools. This summer I was asked to present two hours of technology to our history department at Lakeside High School.

Whenever I am asked to present technology I usually always try to find out if there are any specific needs that the group wants me to address. Teachers have precious time, and I want to make sure to make the best of the time they invest with me! I also try not to show too many concepts or apps. (We have all been to sessions where the presenter will show 60 apps in 50 minutes- that's too much!  I've found that few people can remember useful information presented in this format.) It's usually best to focus on just a few concepts. If the few things I present make an impression, the teachers will usually seek additional help, or they will investigate on their own. For this session they specifically requested SMART Board basics. I decided to also share some video project ideas since this is beginning to be a big trend with technology learning projects (especially with so many students having smartphones- every phone is a camera/ video camera)!

I had a great time presenting to our history department in the two hour session. I showed them SMART Board basics, iMovie app, Tellegami app, Morfo app, blogs, and Twitter basics. The SMART Board session was great! Some of the teachers were comfortable with the SMART Board and shared their experiences. They had some creative ways that they used these tools in class. The discussion that came from this was great! One teacher even got up and demonstrated a few techniques while everyone watched and asked questions. Isn't this what departmental meetings and Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) should be?

This is the outline I shared with them:

Rounded Rectangle: Gifted 
        With all your mind.
        With all your heart.
        With all your might.
History/ Civics Department Meeting
8:30-10:30  August 7, 2014
Library Media and Technology Ideas

I.               SMART Board Boot Camp
a.    Basics
b.    SMART Notebook
c.     Ladybug
d.    SMART Exchange
e.    Experiment on your own- you can’t hurt the technology!
II.             Video Projects
a.    iMovie
b.    Forgot to Study Video Channel
c.     Tellagami- free app for iPads and iPhones
d.    Morfo- free app for iPads and iPhones
e.    Blogging

I had a lot more material to cover but time ran out (of course!). I hope all of you have great opportunities to share your knowledge with your school faculty in 2014-2015!

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