Sunday, July 17, 2011

We've MOVED to EduBlogs!

Because the HCPSS school district decided to block all Blogger blogs because of their Sexual Content we've moved to EduBlogs. Now usually I'm vexed with sites being blocked for any reason because I truly believe that life is not filtered so we should teach our students how to be responsible, discerning, & ethical in their search choices but in this case I do see their logic.

I've had this blog for 5+ years - It's a conversation between my students, community, and the world about our library program & practice. We highlight student achievements, new books, web 2.0 tools, QR codes, and the cool things we do in our awesome school.
YouTube blocks nudity & sexual content, why not Blogger? If Blogger just took the same tact "YouTube is not for pornography or sexually explicit content. If this describes your video, even if it's a video of yourself, don't post it on YouTube." Then all the educational blogs out there - including mine - would not be blocked. Also taking off the "next blog" button would be very helpful since some of the next blogs are NOT appropriate. I've been a Google educator since 2004 I love me my Google! I've been championing my district to have a Google Server & use the Educational apps! Now this.

The Blogger Content Warning does not say anything about age... just "I understand and wish to continue" or "I do not wish to continue" - This is just not good enough if a student stumbles across pornographic material WHILST researching in SCHOOL. If they at least had a warning about being over 18 then we could say the student - if they chose the content - was breaking the Acceptable Use Policy but as it's worded - no such luck. I can't even defend that. And my students deserve more.

If you can't change your business strategy in this matter - can you give me any advice on how to ask my District to consider unblocking our Library Blog? When a blogger designates their blog as having "adult content" can filters just block THOSE sites & leave other sites clear? I don't know much about that kind of higher level of coding or filtering (html sure but I'm really a software girl) but I can pass along any suggestions you might have.

UPDATE: From Nick, the Technology Security Analyst - Technology Department
Howard County Public School System

"Take a look at the server name that hosts your screen shot of youtube's policy ( If you were to look at the server name of "questionable" content you would notice that the server name is the same. This is why we can not allow one without the other. The server name used to call adult content is the same as your non-adult content."
So apparently can't block the bad without blocking the good.

I ardently believe in teaching without a filter. Life is not filtered. We need to teach digital citizenship so that students can evaluate web content again with knowledge, discernment, & ethics. We also need to teach with effective classroom management. BUT websites have to meet us halfway and not make it REALLY easy to see & filter out pornographic content. Also, some districts are not there yet. I need ammunition or a change of heart on this issue.

'Cause really, isn't there just enough porn on the Interwebs as it is?

Thank you!
~Gwyneth Jones
The Daring Librarian

Well, I've given it a few months...hoping against hope that Blogger or Google would establish an .EDU server and so far, they haven't.......So the blog on EduBlogger will be the new home for this blog...AND...I've been accepted to the Google Teacher Academy in Seattle Washington this summer and maybe...there will be an appropriate and tactful time to maybe ask for Google to think about us educational bloggers! Please change your bookmarks, RSS feeds, & visit us at our new home!

Monday, March 14, 2011

New Urban Teen Novels and Pi!

If you're a Bluford High fan or urban teen realistic fiction fan - you need to come to the Media center ASAP to grab one of these 6 new novels! Last year, only 2 Bluford High books were approved for Middle School - and of course I bought them both! This year we found 4 and got them all plus a new series called the Urban Underground.

A Boy Called Twister:
"Kevin Walker has a secret, and he hopes it will stay hidden when he moves to California from small-town Spurville in Texas." - School Library Journal Will he work out the conflict, will his deadly secret come out and more importantly, will his new friends support him or reject him? You'll have to read this to find out!
Outrunning the Darkness: #1 of the Urban Underground series follows the friends of Jaris at Tubman High School. "Jaris worries about his parents, who are experiencing marital difficulties, and his father's black moods, which the young man sometimes shares." - School Library Journal
A Matter of Trust:
"A well-written and easy-to-read book. The situations hold readers' attention and are ones teens relate to." -- A student review published in The Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy
Summer of Secrets:
"I like the Bluford Series because it is action-packed all the way through."
-- Adam F., student reviewer
"The Bluford books are REAL. What you see in them really happens. That's why you can't stop reading." -- Phillip, C., student reviewer
Brothers in Arms:
"Martin Luna is in deep trouble. Just months ago, a horrible tragedy took his little brother, and now it threatens to take him too. Which way will he go?" You'll have to read the book to find out!
Someone to Love Me:
".... keeps you on the edge of your seat anxiously wondering what will happen next." -- A student review published in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy

"My school is just like Bluford High. The characters are like people I know. These books are real." -- Jessica, K. 9th grade student

Check out these new books from Anne Schraff at the MHMS Library Media Center!

Oh, and HAPPY Pi Day!!!!

and i still LOVES our MHMS GT Dept. 3.14 Pi Vid from a few years back....still wished we ended with a Pi in the face....LOL

List of numbers – Irrational and suspected irrational numbers
γ – ζ(3) – √2 – √3 – √5 – φ – ρ – δS – α – e – π – δ

Number system Evaluation of π
Binary 11.00100100001111110110...[1]
Decimal 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288...
Hexadecimal 3.243F6A8885A308D31319...[2]
Rational approximations 3, 22⁄7, 333⁄106, 355⁄113, 103993/33102, ...[3]

(listed in order of increasing accuracy)
Continued fraction [3; 7, 15, 1, 292, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 3, 1, 14, 2, 1, 1, ... ][4]

(This continued fraction is not periodic. Shown in linear notation)
Trigonometry π radians = 180 degrees

How do YOU Celebrate Pi Day?

from wikipedia
graphics from Fort Math

Friday, March 04, 2011

Facebook, Farcebook, and Fakebook

So we have a spankin new iMac computer lab in our building and I'm really chuffed! (British for flippin excited!) 30 brilliant new iMacs all lined up & shiny...ready work with my kids to create cool stuff with the kids! (and yes, throughout this post I'll be showing off the pics - your hard-earned tax money at work - please notice the hard to find laminated not mint, Think Different Apple posters stapled to the wall bought in 1999- don't hate!)
Facebook, Farcebook, and Fakebook Templates
Miss Wallen - one of our coolest teachers is using the iMac lab with her kids to do a mock Facebook page for Latin American Historical figures like Pizarro, Cortes, Bolivar, and Hidalgo with her 7th grade Social Studies kids!
Using the downloadable template I shared from our favourite NerdyTeacher none other than Nick Provenzano the kids are using our databases and links Miss Wallen found to do their research and then become the character filling in the Facebook template.

What's so cool is they can write on their walls as if they or another historic character left a message such as: "I Founded a city...I'm calling it Ciudad de los Reyes, which means "City of the Kings" It's royally AWEsome...I'm a Winner!" Even though in real life Pizarro never learned to read or write... with this template kids can really get a different glimpse into his life, political struggles, adventures, and accomplishments!

My teacher librarian friend, Barbara Randolph, passed along a cool link to a Teacher's Discovery resources Blank Farcebook Poster Set of 30 for $19.99 - which can be laminated & written on with dry erase markers for when the computer lab is being used for month long standardized testing (starting next week!). Taking that idea...I've got it in me heid to create a comic life version - making several changes - I'm gonna call it Fakebook and post it to my Comic Tutorial gallery & ya'll can print em out for free! Stay tuned for that!

But I AM gonna buy from that company a really cool set of NOVEL CHARACTERS FARCEBOOK (TM) POSTERS SET OF 8 for...[gulp!] $39.99! Described as: "Characters from your favorite novels come to life on these Farcebook posters. Learn what book Ponyboy Curtis likes to read and what Frankenstein's monster's favorite song is. Does Scout Finch really belong to the group "the Maycomb Legal Defense Fund"? Is Odysseus really interested in spelunking? Find out these fun facts and more. Your students will recognize this format and will love finding all the hidden information. 11 x 17 inches each, printed on glossy card stock, middle school/high school. "
Check out that cool chick Juliet & her page...has she friended you yet?

When our 7th grade social studies kids finish the unit & we check out all their pages we'll be posting them on our learning wiki! I love the idea of these Fake Facebook pages for historical or fictional characters - it get's the kids excited - creates dynamite disposition to learning with total student engagement and is also relatable!

What do you think? Do you have any other resources or sites like these that use Social Media to tie into student projects? Please comment! Loves me some comments!
iMac lab photos by Gwyneth Jones

Friday, February 11, 2011

Congratulations Mrs. Singleton:
Outstanding Educator - Teacher as Leader

Congratulations to our own Beth Singleton, G/T Resource Teacher at Murray Hill Middle School has been recognized in the "Outstanding Educator - Teacher as Leader" category.

Mrs. Singleton will be honored at the reception in Annapolis on the evening of Feb. 16th, to celebrate February as Gifted and Talented Education Month in Maryland.

From a press release that was sent out by MSDE:

"The Maryland State Advisory Council on Gifted and Talented Education appointed by State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick will celebrate the Governor’s Proclamation of February as Gifted and Talented Education month at a reception on February 16, 2011 from 5:00 pm. – 8:00 p.m. at the Miller Senate Building in Annapolis. The proclamation affirms that Maryland, recognized as having the number one school system in the nation, now aims to reach world-class standards and must identify and nurture those gifted and talented students in all cultural groups who have the potential to perform at remarkably high levels. Approximately 300 persons are expected to attend the celebration, including legislators, educators, parents, students, and community members. An awards ceremony will recognize outstanding accomplishments of schools, educators, students, and community members representing school systems across the state."

Congratulations Mrs. Singleton - We're so proud of you!!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

A Day Without Chemistry: Pirate Ninja Style!

---A Video from the American Chemical Society
Our MHTV top story today made me have to get a little shady -access my inner Pirate and bring out my secret Ninja side- all for a good cause and all with administrator permission, of course!  

Here at Murray Hill Middle School we LOVE Science! So it did not come as any surprise that our interest was piqued today when we found this great story on Student News dot net - a press release about a hot new animated video celebrating International Year of Chemistry - and it took a bit of finagling to get it (if you're interested I'll give the lowdown after the story jump) - but do know dear students & readers we are determined to go that extra distance for Science!

"Imagine a day without cars, electric lights, TV, telephones, safe food, water, medicine, clothing, your house, and other things that make up modern life. Do it, and you are imagining a day without chemistry.
Aren't you glad you live in a world with chemistry? February 1st is the kickoff of the 2011 International Year of Chemistry, so take some time this year to appreciate the importance of chemistry in your everyday life!" - by Adam Dylewski
Produced by the ACS Office of Public Affairs, Digital Services Unit
and the Younger Chemists Committee

Video Credit:
Concept and Direction by Adam Dylewski and Mick Hurrey, Ph.D.
Art Direction and Animation by Kirk Zamieroski
Sound Design by Adam Dylewski

Ms. Jones as a Pirate AND a Ninja for Science!
What it took to get to show this video to my kids and how I became more pirate than ninja today - for a good cause--- SCIENCE!

Like I said at EduCon (which was - AWEsome - more later!) Sometimes you have to be shady for a good cause!

You can't think OUT of the box if you're boxed in by filters & firewalls!

I went to the website American Chemistry Society webpage and got faced with the dreaded Locked NET Monster filter warning because the ACS decided to load their new video only on the YouTubes. DOH! So....give up? NEVER!
  • I called my amazing principal Mr. Dickey and got his permission and then used my Verizon Android Fascinate phone's 3G hotspot & bypassed our firewall to access YouTube to get the American Chemistry Society video! BAM!
  • Copy & pasted the URL to the video & opened to download BloopBloop!
  • Downloaded it as a medium quality .MP4 Zing!
  • Uploaded the video to my Flickr account - making sure to leave a comment on the ACS's YouTube account saying so & giving full attribution (of course!) Pow!
NOW teachers or schools wanting to show this cool video celebrating the International Year of Chemistry can do so (see embed code on my flickr under SHARE) --- never minding being blocked by the fliters - the message is the thing!

Comment I left for them on the YouTubes vid:
LOVE this! .....BUT....96.8% of schools have YouTube, I couldn't show it to my kids to day on our live MHTV show without being a bit of a pirate (with admin permission). I used Keepvid dot com to download it - show my kids then upload it to Flickr to get the embed code for our MHMS Daring School Media blog...hope you don't mind!
the daring librarian
ps, i totally made up that 96.8% statistic...but like it's a LOT!
How to Be a Ninja!
How to use KeepVid Comic Tutorial to snag educational videos for the good of learning & instruction! (click comic for different size options - Creative Commons - FREE to download, use, share!)

Do NOT use this tactic to download the latest Justin Bieber video - that would be

PS. Reason 21.5 why I'm the DARING Librarian! Ka-Pow!

A Day Without Chemistry: Pirate Ninja Style!
Tags, Adam Dylewski, American Chemistry Society, chemistry, flickr, keepvid, science, youtube

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

MHMS (QRCodes) Rocks Your Socks

(scan the code above for a secret message from Kasim)

So many of our kids have been intrigued & inspired by our recent QR Code adventures! Don't believe me?

One of our ace MHTV Reporters, 7th grader Kasim, on his own found this fascinating article & wrote a news story on it for our show today & he's our guest blogger!

Mega Introduces Mobile Technology

"In 2011 Mega Bloks will launch new QR codes on its product packaging and print advertising. Spanning its boys and collectors’ portfolio, the codes will first appear on Dragons Universe, Halo and the new Blok Squad range, and will then be rolled out to additional ranges.

The QR (quick response) codes allow consumers to instantly view product information, images, videos and instructions on a mobile page. This can be achieved by downloading a QR Code reader on a smart phone, which can then read the QR code on pack or in print.
In addition to new QR technology, Mega plans to refresh its microsites with a number of new innovative features. Kids will be able to view new 360° rotating product views, which explode showcasing the product build." - by Katie Roberts

In touch with one of the latest trends in media, Mega will also be introducing 30-second product videos onto its product pages bringing all the features of the product to life.
Here at MHMS we are planning to use these QR codes to send URLs and many other texts to use for educational purpose - Kasim

Source: Mega introduces mobile technology

Thank you Kasim! AWEsome job! I'm so tickled pink & proud of you!

In writing this post Kasim utilized maz technology integration skillz by using Google docs, Kaywa QR Code generator, & daring-do! Way to go!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Walla Walla Webcast With Jon Scieszka

The super cool author of some of my most favourite books The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stoopid Tales & The True Story of the Three Little pigs will be holding a live webcast for kids in March! It's FREE to sign up (and yes, to my MHMS Kids, we're so there!) and uber cool author of Trackers & friend of the MHMS Media Center - (see his signed poster below!) Patrick Carman will be the host!
From the website:

"Walla Walla Kids Read will webcast JON SCIESZKA, one of America’s most beloved children’s authors. This FREE event is hosted by Patrick Carman. Consult the events page for exact times, then sign up below if you would like to broadcast the author appearance in your classroom or library. All presentations last approximately 45 minutes and are presented on the web as they happen"

Visit the site for FREE Downloads:Learn more & Sign up your school today!

Which is your favourite Jon Scieszka book?

Walla Walla Webcast With Jon Scieszka

tags: Jon Scieszka, Patrick Carman, walla walla kids read, webcast

graphics & photos: © 2010 Walla Walla Kids Read