Friday, December 18, 2009

A Creative & Festive Hallway Display!

The talented 7th grade students of Mrs. Lewis' Reading classes really out did themselves with their creative book covers this year! Here are the pics of their fine work!
Be sure to stop by the Library Media Center before break and pick up a couple of books! You never know with this snow coming when you'll be wanting to curl up with a good book over the holiday break!

Mrs. Lewis gives the poster one last final adjustment before stepping back and admiring the work of her amazing students! With 3-D special effects and creative construction these kids really took book covers to a new dimension of AWEsome!

Miss Jones is so proud to have such an amazing display outside the Library Media Center!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It’s Xtranormal to Blabberize & GoAnimate!

Marketing is not a dirty word. Sometimes we do great things in our school, classroom, or media center but we forget that people just might not know about it. The community loves to hear what schools are doing and it’s great that we can reach out with a cool message to the community and to our kids in an appealing way. Animation does that!

Promoting your school or library media center has never been easier. Using quick, free, and easy animation studios technology educators and teacher librarians can create engaging videos to market their classrooms, media center, databases, research resources, special programs, and their love of learning to students, teachers, and the community. Combining easy animation with a wiki, website, or a blog your message will captivate your audience and reach beyond the brick and mortar walls of your school.

Focusing on three easy to use products this post will give you a quick introduction and hopefully inspire you to try your hand at easy animation. The slant of this posting is to create animations for kids but not with kids. Some of the content on these sites are user created and therefore a bit questionable, inappropriate, (like Beavis & Butthead fart & scatalogical type jokes) and just a bit immature.

Back in the day (1996) I used Theatrix Interactive’s Hollywood High to create animations and it was a whole lot of awesome! The company went bust a few years ago and it’s now out of print but it was fun and easy to use. Fast forward about 10 or so years and I stumble across Go! and WOW! It was like a souped-up, super-charged online and FREE version! I was in animation heaven!

Using just drag, drop, click, and type technology the learning curve for this product is sweet and comforting. The best part is that you can bring in your own graphics and pics in to use as backdrops, heads, and hand props!

The design dashboard is super friendly and you can easily see all parts to your video. If you've ever worked with iMovie this is going to look very familiar! I quickly created a short 28 second video promoting my library media center for my blog, wiki and website…after that, I was hooked! MHMS Media Center Adventures! by gwyneth

Do you have your own avatar? You can also make a comic version or avatar of yourself to use in your animations with Character Creator and the first one is FREE. If you've ever made a Nintendo Mii character it's a lot like that. Hint: you can’t edit your character later so make your choices carefully! (which explains why i have tacky gold shoes and a bad lipstick color!) Here's a helpful blog posting, the official blog, and some video tutorials to help! I got so jazzed about this site I made an Animation Studios & Sites Introduction wikipage for this and the other products mentioned in this posting...using LOTS of screenshots!

Another very cool thing about Go!Animate is the easy ability to embed and share the vids on your social networks and websites AND when you go back to edit the videos later (this is great for me because I'm constantly tweaking & changing things later or if I find a typo!) is that your embedded video is your latest cut… no need to re-embed it! That. Is. Sweet.

For elementary techie teachers & media specialists there's a more kid friendly version of GoAnimate called Domo Animate where there are preset backgrounds and the characters are super cute.

A few things I’ve learned about GoAnimate:

• Upload the largest resolution background pics for best performance. Go!Animate works with Flickr to import photos for use as backdrops but it seems to only take the large size and not the original. What can I say? I'm a resolution snob.

• Extend the scene length for better reading...the default is 2 seconds, you can override it to 4 seconds...but I find that with two speech bubbles per scene having it be 5-7 seconds is more comfortable.

• Add special effects sparingly: They’re cool but they sort of overwhelm a scene.

Some of the options at Go!Animate cost points: "You can use your GoPoints to acquire special premium characters and props on the platform." You can get points by sharing your videos or referring friends.

Join Go!Animate then Cut & Paste the following “Pssst! Gwyneth told me about the FREE 10 character credit offer on ISTE Connects! Thank you! – Your member name” email that to and in a few days you’ll be credited! Sweet!

Blabberize is a really cool site where you can upload a picture, select a mouth on that picture, and record some sound to make that picture talk. It’s an easy and fast way to podcast!

Xtranormal is a free animated movie generator featuring drag and drop animations, automatic lip synching and international voices. It allows you to make movies in minutes by simply typing in your scripts. They’re tagline is, “If you can type, you can make movies.” This online movie making tool allows users to create animations complete with backdrops, simulated voices, and camera angels to perform scripts you write and edit online. To quote the website Lifehacker, it’s “a seriously addictive sandbox for crafting miniature dramas, comedies, or whatever you can tell your little actors to do.”

It takes a few minutes to render between previews but when you’re ready to save it the finished product looks sleek and slick. You can even publish it directly to YouTube with the click of one button.

A few things I learned about Xtranormal:

• Spelling words phonetically or in an odd way sometimes sounds better: such as anim ate vs. animate and wick kee vs. wiki
• To shorten unnatural pauses between words, hyphenate (teacher-librarian)
• Capitalizing after any punctuation mark increases the pause between words
• Capitalizing the first letter after a hyphen slightly increases the pause between words (teacher-Librarian)
• Capitalizing intra-sentence letters allows you to emphasize certain syllables (comPlexity is sometimes overRated! )
• Capitalize ANY words you wish emphasized (use Restraint, capitalizing Every word would be the same or Worse than leaving them as they Were!) Beam Me Up Databases! by gwyneth

Like it? Create your own at It's free and fun!

Ideas for use in the school or media centerse animations to promote:
• Virtual tour of the school - then dub voice over in several languages! Example
• Back to school night
• Science fair
• History Day
• Summer Reading List/Program
• Public library card drives
• TV studio or TV production
• Public service announcements
• Banned books week
• Research databases
• Recycling or green projects
• Book Fair

Classroom ideas:
• Science! Create a zoo where animals talk about their habitats
• Social Studies: Represent important historical figure and have that person summarize his/her accomplishments or point of view
• Art: An introduction to a famous artist using original paintings with cartoon docent.
• English & Reading: Book talk from a characters point of view
• Math: Have a famous mathematician explain a solution to a math problem
• World Languages: Use it to create a dual language presentation for a foreign language or ESOL class
• English & Reading: Vocabulary building
• English & Reading: Poetry or creative writing presentations

Now that you’ve gotten a little amuse-bouche of animation why not give it a whirl? Come up with a purpose, write a script, sketch a storyboard, and dive right in! I’ve even designated a Go!Animate video School News for Teens! TV Show Opening that's FREE to SNAG! I've given permission to copy so that you can copy and play with it! Also, all the Xtranormal vids you can just click REMIX and like an open source video make changes, save, and rename it as your own! Live long an Animate!

For more information, feel free to check out my Animation Studios & Sites wiki page and follow me on Twitter! @gwynethjones

Be a Blabbermouth!

Blabberize is a really cool site where you can "upload a picture, select a mouth on that picture, and record some sound to make that picture talk." It’s an easy and fast way to podcast! And though it's super easy there ARE a few tricks....Here's how it works:

Find a picture...i recommend an animal, cartoon, historic painting, etc. using real people or kids for some reason looks creepy to me...except for those Twihard peeps (OK, those mary sues were creepy to start with!)

Browse to upload the picture. You have to have the pic on your machine, you can't supply a url to a jpeg.

Crop the pic to be used by moving the sliding dots so that the portion of the pic you want to work with is selected.

Add a mouth to your starts as a big blob...but move the dots to reduce or enlarge to fit the mouth at the seam. Making it bigger than it needs to be makes it's funny when the whole chin goes up and down.

Once you have your mouth re-sized to fit click the right arrow to go on to the next step.

Record the sound for your video by using either your built in microphone, uploading sound you've already recorded or record using your phone.

Click Allow to allow access for the Adobe flash player settings. I've only ever used my microphone and it works great! I've also used a USB microphone for better (louder) sound quality.

Click the red record button to start (you'll see the green volume line going up and down) Each scene only has 30 seconds of record time, so I suggest writing out a script and practicing first. I also use a boom box or a laptop with iTunes to play background music..cause this isn't high tech here...this is easy, quick and dirty. Play what you just recorded and click OK when you're satisfied that.

Now you can either make another scene, or go back and edit and re-record what you just did. Choose carefully because after the final save, you can't edit and change it later, you gotta start from the beginning.

Describe your Blabber! Give it a catchy name, write a short description, and add related tags so that people searching can find it. You have a choice for making this a private blabber or mature then click save. Again, because this site is very user intensive there are inappropriate and immature products to be supervision or using this to promote your program is recommended.

Click Share it and you'll get your embed code!

Grab that code by copying it all and pasting it wherever you want your vid to show up! It's that easy! Enjoy Blabberize for the fun that it is...but don't expect it to be more than it is - there are premium features that they say are on the way....stay tuned for those!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Twihard Fans! If You Liked Twilight You Might Just Like These Books!

Whether you are Team Jacob (YAY!) or Team Edward (Boo!) --OK, ok - i'll stay out of it...But Vote on the PollDaddy Poll below! Twihard fans must have read ALL the books by now....or you should have! And with New Moon to open tomorrow you may be hungry for more bloodthristy reads...and that's where i come in! Muuwaaa!
The following suggestions are available in our Library Media Center.... unless your GF or BF has checked them out! Not sure?
Double check using our online PAC System!

Blood & Chocolate ~ Annette Curtis Klause
Ms. Jones says: Maryland author and visitor to MHMS a few years ago...... writes a dark story that is exciting and a sure page turner! Not for 6th graders or little brothers or sisters, this scary story has all the angst of high school with places mentioned that you'll recognize as a Marylander!

from Amazon: "Blood and Chocolate chronicles the longings and passions of one Vivian Gandillon, teenage werewolf. Her pack family, recently burned out of their West Virginia home by suspicious neighbors, has resettled in a sleepy Maryland suburb. At her new school, Viv quickly falls for sensitive heartthrob Aiden, a human--or "meat-boy," as her pack calls him. Soon she is trying to tame her undomesticated desires to match his more civilized sensibilities. "He was gentle. She hadn't expected that. Kisses to her were a tight clutch, teeth, and tongue... His eyes were shy beneath his dark lashes, and his lips curved with delight and desire--desire he wouldn't force on her... he was different." But Vivian's animal ardor cannot be stilled, and she must decide if she should keep Aiden in the dark about her true nature or invite him to take a walk on her wild side."

Blue Bloods by ~ Melissa De La Cruz
Ms. Jones says: I so Heart this series! I've read both and can't wait for the third AND fourth! If you like NYC, private schools, snotty rich people (getting put in their place!) and fashion mixed with vampire horror and history...this series is for you!

"De la Cruz has revamped traditional vampire lore in this story featuring a group of attractive, privileged Manhattan teens who attend a prestigious private school. Schuyler Van Alen, 15, the last of the line in a distinguished family, is being raised by her distant and forbidding grandmother. Schuyler, her friend Oliver, and their new friend Dylan are treated like outsiders by the clique of popular, athletic, and beautiful teens made up of Mimi Force, her twin brother, and her best friend. What they have in common is the fact that they are all Blue Bloods, or vampires. They don't realize that they aren't normal until they reach age 15. Then the symptoms manifest themselves and they begin to crave raw meat, have nightmares about events in history, and get prominent blue veins in their arms. Their immortality and way of life are threatened after Blue Blood teens start getting murdered by a splinter group called the Silver Bloods. This novel constantly name-drops and is full of product placements, drinking, drugs, nonexplicit sex, and superficial characterizations, but the intriguing plot will keep teens reading. De la Cruz's explanation for the disappearance of the Colony of Roanoke is unique and the idea that models don't gain weight because they are Blue Bloods rather than anorexic is unusual."–Sharon Rawlins, SLJ

Vampire Kisses ~ Ellen Schreiber
Ms. Jones says: haven't read this one myself but i heard it's really it and tell me what you think!

"Raven, 16, doesn't fit in at school or home. This goth-girl is obsessed with vampires and when a new family moves into the old town mansion, she is convinced that the son, Alexander, is a vampire. The story swirls around and through sibling rivalry, peer relationships, friendships, and love. Raven is a feisty protagonist with a quick wit and a real sense of self. She defends herself and her friends, often besting her peers with humor and a quick tongue. As her connection with Alexander deepens, she comes to understand her family better. It is through his shadowy character that readers are kept off balance. Schreiber weaves a tale that is more about acceptance and friendship than about vampire behavior and culture, and sustains a tone that draws readers to the characters rather than to horrific plot developments that would keep them reading. There is far less intensity than in Annette Curtis Klause's Silver Kiss (Laurel-Leaf, 1992) and less moodiness than that found in Amelia Atwater-Rhodes's Midnight Predator (2002) and Shattered Mirror (2001, both Delacorte). While the ending isn't tied up in a neat and pretty bow, it fits the style and tone. All in all, a good read for those who want a vampire love story without the gore." SLJ

Demon in My View (Den of Shadows) ~ Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Ms. Jones says: OMword i love ALL her books! and we have nearly every one! she started writing these when she was just in high school but she has really gotten the tone right for a well crafted, engaging story...i say read 'em ALL!

he teen queen of horror fiction Amelia Atwater-Rhodes is on the prowl again! Continuing in much the same vampire vein that established her reputation, the young writer's sophomore novel also includes a touch of autobiography. Jessica Allodola is a high school senior who pens vampire tales under the pseudonym Ash Night. (Hmmm, sound familiar?) Because of her funereal clothing and cynical demeanor, Jessica is shunned by her sunnier classmates. No matter, she prefers the company of the undead she creates on her laptop, anyway. But Jessica is shaken when a creature from her novel, the suave vampire Aubrey (who fans will remember from In the Forests of the Night) shows up as a new student at her school. Not knowing whether he plans to seduce or harm her, Jessica plays a dangerous game of cat and mouse with Aubrey as she tries to discover the secret of his existence. As she delves deeper into the midnight world of her own novels, she encounters other supernatural beings, like Fala, an evil Egyptian vampire, and Caryn Smoke, a teenaged good witch. When she finally unearths the shocking truth that explains the tangibility of her imaginary world, Jessica must decide if she loves that dark world enough to leave the light forever. Atwater-Rhode's writing, while still showing strong traces of Anne Rice and Stephen King, is maturing nicely as she cleverly constructs this story within a story. Her vampires, while thousands of years old, have adolescent mood swings and tempers, which will sit well with the under-16 crowd. Demon in My View will undoubtedly find its way into many backpacks and Trapper Keepers. (Ages 12 to 15) --Jennifer Hubert"

and for both Guys and Gals might i suggest the Cirque du Freak Series!
Ms. Jones says: Amazingly scary from the first couple chapters! I met the author and he was delightful and a bit macabre! ....Try these books but you GOTTA read 'em in order...really!

"A boy sneaks out to an illicit freak show, and his life becomes entangled with a vampire spider-wrangler. "The author mines the exploitative history of early 20th-century sideshows to create an artfully macabre 'Cirque du Freak,' " wrote PW.

Okay okay.....Still want to read Twilight series? But don't have the hard copy on hand?

Twilight full text:
New Moon full text:
or if that doesn't work, (but the punctuation on this version is messed up)
or if you prefer PDF,*zTDyEx8enS8HhQBZzqRFhpcMXBmimSahpQW7wOL/StephenieMeyer2.NewMoon.pdf
Eclipse full text: (but the line breaks on this version are kind of annoying)
I also found this one:
(neither version is ideal, but if formatting is so important to you go out and buy the goddamn books!)
Breaking Dawn full text:
Midnight Sun draft:
this list from the Smart People Who Like Twilight Blog

According to Mashable, Twilight New Moon Social Media Mania Nets 81,000 Tweets Per Day! Yes, dear reader... New Moon has gone totally viral!

View more news videos at:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Applications for Media Student Assistant Due Soon!

Poor Clank can't be a Library Media Student Assistant, but you can!
We need enthusiastic and hard working students to help out in the Media Center during seminar classes. If chosen, you will check out, shelve & straighten books. You will also work on special Media events, run deliveries of books & materials to teachers, and help kids find books!

If this sounds like a job you can and WANT to do, please pick up your application in the Media Center, fill out both sides - answering ALL the questions and get two signatures (one from a parent/guardian and a recommendation from a teacher) and turn it in by this coming Tuesday.

Stay tuned to MHTV for updates to see who has been chosen! Good luck!
~Miss Jones & Mrs. Black

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Did You Know 4.0 and The Future

In 2007 i blogged about the first Did You Know by Karl Fisch for my kids, parents, teachers & community... because when i saw it (the first one) it rocked my world!

back then it was MySpace that could have been the 8th largest company....Facebook wasn't even invented yet...nor Twitter! much has changed...but sometimes i feel like we're not moving fast enough to get the right technology into the hands of our kids...then trust them enough to teach them how to ethically use it. teaching kids that they need to be ETHICAL and AWARE of what they do on the intarwebs ...what their digital footprint is and what kind of footprint they're leaving (in words and in pictures)....and how people will go back and see the doofy stuff they post 5, 10, 15 and 20 years from now.

don't get me wrong: i totally respect the 2000 FTC Children's Internet Privacy Act! heck, i quoted it on my 2000 Internet Safety for Parents & Teens webpage! but things have changed DRASTICALLY since then! i'm just saying....we can't bury our head in the sand for much longer... the internet is not going away...and though i preach the use of the Databases and i uphold my county rules...i think we're doing our kids a disservice by not teaching precise and savvy Google searches or using some of the Google products and how to be smart on the social networks....cause parents...they're there already!
and though i'm a rebel, kids in many ways.....i still maintain my Back-to-school advice for safe & ethical social networking.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Gearing Up for AASL The Unconference@The Blogger's Cafe by gwyneth

hey kids! Miss Jones is off to Charlotte, NC in a week or so to present at the American Association of School Librarians conference. This national conference brings together over 4,000 school librarians is held every other year and i'm honored to be presenting several times and to be named as one of the official bloggers. (no pressure there! LOL)

so anyway...just wanted to let you know that i go to these conferences to learn, share, and bring back cool ideas (like the Book Pass Reading List initiative) and new things to make our Media Center one of the best in Howard County...or heck...Maryland....wait!
why not in the US of A!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pass the Book Website!

As mentioned in my post last week, the pass the book event is here and its site has now gone LIVE!

from the official website:

"Beginning October 19, 2009 be on the lookout for specially marked copies of The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld. Books are available at any Howard County Library (while supplies last) or from your friends who will Pass the Book. If you receive a specially marked copy of The Secret Hour, read it, register it, and pass it on to another reader. Return to the website throughout the year to track where your book has traveled and participate in online challenges. Howard County Library's Pass the Book is sponsored by Friends of Howard County Library.

Midnighter Lore: Monday October 19 at 7:00pm

Join us for the official launch of Pass the Book, and brush up on Midnighter Lore at Howard County Central Library. Create codes, ciphers, and secret writing, then pick up a copy of The Secret Hour to read, register, and pass to a friend. Ages 11-15. Please register online or by calling 410.313.7800.

The Author: Scott Westerfeld

The Midnighters series comes to you from the mind of author Scott Westerfeld, who you may know from Peeps, the Uglies series, and So Yesterday. Westerfeld’s latest novel is Leviathan, a novel that pits the Darwinists against the Clankers, and asks “Do you oil your war machines, or do you feed them?” Watch the book trailer, and come back here soon for a full review."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Neil Gaiman and Twittering the Exquisite Corpse

So, yesterday i got really excited about the Neil Gaiman Twitter writing opportunity the Exquisite Corpse..I instantly thought of our Writers Guild and how they could have really gotten involved with the writing experience. However, Twitter is now Blocked in HCPSS. (yes, thanks to the NEW Dickensian interweb policies of my county Twitter has now been blocked --we're going backwards not forwards, it seems...i guess no more Teacher Tuesdays at lunch for me sharing ideas with other tech peeps! :-( Doh! /rant)

anyway.... no, an Exquisite Corpse, is not about a pretty cadaver...
"An Exquisite Corpse is an old game in which people write a phrase on a sheet of paper, fold it over to conceal part of it and pass it on to the next player to do the same. The game ends when someone finishes the story, which is then read aloud."
we also did the same thing with drawings in the back seat of the family wagon during long road trips....sorta like before mad libs...

2 B, or not 2 B, that is the question. OMW, LOL!

"If only the Bard were lucky enough to have had a Twitter account. Since he didn’t, we’ll just have to rely on BBC Audiobooks and fantasy writer Neil Gaiman to bring us the latest development in Twitterature. Yesterday at noon, the Coraline author tweeted the first sentence in an interactive storytelling experiment, with the hope that fellow Twitterers (Twits?) will pick up the thread and spin the rest of the story 140 characters at a time. The final product will eventually be compiled into a short story, recorded as an audiobook, and made available on iTunes for....hello....FREE! ((of course we'll give you either a link or an embed script when it's released...or you may wanna bookmark BBC Audio) - Twitter an Audio Story with Neil Gaiman!))

It’ll be interesting to see if average Twitterzens will be able to maintain a functioning narrative in this mass game of exquisite corpse, or if it will inevitably devolve into “And then a comet hit the planet and everybody died!” or “A giant POO POO-monster came out of nowhere and swallowed dear Emily whole,” as mine always did. Some hope can be gleaned from the recent success in London of the Royal Opera House’s first tweet-based opera, Twitterdammerung, which actually got some decent reviews. We lose Miley, but gain Wagner. Seems like a fair trade.

Tweets probably won’t be replacing conventional book-writing anytime soon, but it is an interesting glimpse into the possibility of open-source literary collaboration. Will BBC be able to separate the tweets from the chaff, or will we perhaps realize that all that Twitters is not gold?"
Keith Staskiewicz - EW

Finally to quote a tweeter named Smirkette: "Neil Gaiman is such a rockstar. I love how much he's embraced social media, and I can hardly wait to hear how this turns out."

& Neither can i! What do you think? Is this a promotional stunt or a best practice of Web 2.0 use of the technology craftily interwoven with interweb savvy?

Monday, October 12, 2009 MHMS Media Adventures! MHMS Media Adventures! by gwyneth

Like it? Create your own at It's free and fun!

GoAnimate is WAY cool!..but be warned..before you use this with kids... there are areas that have some questionable, for elem techie teachers & Media Specialists to use with their students there's a MORE kid friendly version of GoAnimate called Domo Animate where there are preset backgrounds, characters and where kids can't upload created backgrounds or content (that could be inappropriate or copyright grey)....check it out!

For Media Specialists making animations for special events, programs, or products i suggest using regular where you can Photoshop, iPhoto or Comic Life backdrops using your own graphics & digital pics!



Beginning October 19, be on the lookout for specially marked copies of The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld.

Read the book. Register the book's number at Pass the book to another friend. Return to the web site throughout the year to track where the books have traveled, and participate in online book discussions.

For more information go visit the HCL Pass that Book Website or contact Mr. John Jewitt

Miss. Jones Writes:
This reminds me of a website i've been involved with for many years called Same's how it started from my first posting on the BX site in 2005:

Journal entry 6 by gwynethanne from columbia, Maryland USA on Monday, April 25, 2005

this book was the first MC Beaton i ever read....i picked it up in the sheraton inner harbor hotel a while ago, staying there for the MICCA technology conference and having finished the book that i had brought (what horrors! ) i was itchy for a new one. i spotted this book on a library table near the elevator....i picked it up stealthily...looking furtively up and down the hallway...should i take it? not having a book is torture!...i HUNGERED for a new read. i took the book with me and read about the bookcrossing program....grinning with relief that i had not purloined someone's tome, i kept it and read it. and this one was delightful book! i'm going back to the sheraton for the same conference soon and i'm gonna re-release the book back out into the wild! i hope the next person likes it as much as i did...AND if you haven't read MC the Hamish McBeth mysteries..they are cozy little books that feel as comfortable as a good warm wool sweater with a dram of whiskey! thanks keycollect and fiction!.....and the journey goes on! being a school media specialist maybe i gotta get some bookplates of my own now! ....first book? jack finney's Time and Again! ~gwynethanne

and well, that's how it started. ...since then i have purchased (for a nominal fee) the special bookplates & post-its start up kid... and have released books into the wild. i don't leave books outside..but usually in hotels when i travel for educational technology or library conferences's a bit more from the website:

Read, Recycle, & Release with BookCrossing!

Welcome "Welcome back to BookCrossing, where books have adventures of their own. BookCrossing is earth-friendly, and gives you a way to share your books, clear your shelves, and conserve precious resources at the same time. Through our own unique method of recycling reads, BookCrossers give life to books. BookCrossing books are not stagnant dust collectors, but living entities travelling the world as true BookCrossing emissaries. Our books find new readers and introduce them to the wonders of BookCrossing."

from a blogger:

"BookCrossing,com is an awesome site. If you have a book and you want to share it with the world, or if you just don’t want it laying around anymore and can’t bring yourself to toss it, then you can register it on Once it’s registered you leave the book, somewhere, ‘in the wild’. Since the book is registered on the site, you leave a specific description of where you left it, then when someone is looking for that book or genre in your country, they can track it down, notify the site that it’s been found, read it, then leave it somewhere else to be found again. Such a “make me smile” concept."

so Pass that Book in Howard County and if you like that....join and pass books around the WORLD!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Welcome Back to School 09-10!

YAY!...It's a new year and i'm SO excited to see all the new kids coming to MHMS!!...Welcome 6th graders AND welcome to any transferring 7th and 8th graders!

A Message of Hope and Responsibility

I was very inspired by President Obama's message to students this year! In my opinion, no matter what political side you're affiliated with, it really was a message of hope and responsibility, a teachable moment for social studies classes, and an uplifting and motivating message for kids of all ages.

---full transcript here----

Back-to-school advice for safe & ethical social networking

"Back-to-school time is an excellent time for kids, parents, and teachers to think and talk about the safe and appropriate use of the Internet and social-networking tools."
I've been teaching Internet Safety since 2000...I was first asked to do so by Maryland Public Television and then the Horizon Foundation...and through their patronage i created a website called Internet Safety for Parents & Teens that covered a lot of information about how to be more AWARE of the pitfalls and dangers on the Interwebs. The subject i think that is foremost now is not Safety but Awareness. We have to encourage our kids to be aware of their own digital footprint. To be mindful of what they post and how they cultivate a good Internet profile so that when they apply to college, or a job, they know how they will be perceived by those people who will be digging for information ...and dig they will. They need to know that embarrassing or inappropriate pictures posted are there and can be found forever.

Parents: what you can do at home
  • have the Internet connected computer in a main room of your the kitchen or living, or family room
  • If you have kids who have laptops and a wireless router, disconnect the router (unplug & remove) the power cord at bedtime. late night texting is also a concern
  • re-charge teen cell phones in YOUR rooms overnight
  • know what usernames your kids use on facebook, twitter, myspace, etc. ask to see their page...then ask to see their REAL page!
  • make sure that ANY social network they belong to is set to private
  • know how to search the history of your kids computer
More things to think about:

"Hemanshu Nigam, the chief security officer at News Corp. and MySpace offers some Online Safety and Back to School advice especially suited to youth who use social-networking services like MySpace and Facebook (MySpace is one of several companies that provide financial support for ConnectSafely). He starts off with the usual Internet safety advice: "Don't post anything you wouldn't want the world to know" and "don't get together with someone you 'meet' online unless you're certain of their identity." Then, perhaps a bit uncharacteristic of his background as a former federal prosecutor, Nigam also provides advice about the compassionate and kind use of social networking:

  • Post with respect: photos are a great way to share wonderful experiences. If you're posting a photo of you and your friends, put yourself in your friends' shoes and ask would your friends want that photo to be public to everyone. If yes, then you're uploading photos with respect.
  • Comment with kindness: compliments are like smiles, they're contagious. When you comment on a profile, share a kind word, others will too.
  • Update with empathy: sharing updates lets us tell people what we think. When you give an opinion on your status updates, show empathy towards your friends and help them see the world with understanding eyes.
from: Back-to-school advice for safe & ethical social networking - CNET News

Talk to your kids about the risks.
  • Explain that online information and images can live forever. It can be very hard and sometimes impossible to take down information that is posted, and photos and information may already have been copied and posted elsewhere.
  • Tell your children not to post any identifying information online. This includes their cell phone number, address, hometown, school name, and anything else that a stranger could use to locate them.
  • Explain that anyone in the world can access what they post online. Tell your children that some college admissions boards and employers are checking social networking sites before they admit students or hire people.
  • Remind your children never to give out their passwords to anyone but you – not even their friends. Explain that if someone has their password, they could post embarrassing and unsafe information about them on their personal pages and even pose as your children to talk to other people.
  • Make sure that children understand that some people they meet online may not be who they say they are. Explain that on the Internet many people are not truthful about their identity and may even pretend to be someone else. It’s important to stress that young people should never meet people face-to-face that they met online.

from the Parents' Guide to Social Networking Websites

The Guidance dept. and i will be holding a parent information night about cyberbullying and internet awareness later this year....stay tuned!

Other Resources:

Social Networking Sites: A Parent’s Guide
Social Networking Sites: Safety Tips for Tweens and Teens
Blog Sites, Profile Sites, Diary Sites or Social-Networking Sites

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bookfellas & Bookfoo! Video Blasts from the Past!

here are two of our most popular videos that i use at this time of year...digitally converted ((thanks Beth Singleton, GT teacher and iMovie maven!!)) and now available on TeacherTube.
Bookfellas...don't mess with these guys...bring back your overdue books...OR ELSE!

all of these kids have graduated High School now....[smiles fondly] Awwwww!!!!

Zach G. & Matthew G.

Mike S.

Bookfoo! Through our A+ partnership with the Howard County Public Library the MHMS video production team was chosen one year to make the middle school Summer Reading promotion video for the ENTIRE state of Maryland! Because of movie copyright (i tracked down permissions for each one or only played -30 seconds) we chose to make the video very RETRO!