Thursday, February 23, 2017

And The #30SecondBookTalk Winner Is....

The World Championship of Book Talk videos started with 16 creative educators from several continents. They came together around a common cause and each produced a short (30 second) book talk video. The rest is history!

After over 29,000 votes were cast we have a winner. Congratulations to   and the Literacy Legends team. You can see Bronwyn
#30SecondBookTalk video HERE along with the other finalists. In addition to taking home the hardware (also known as a Vince Lombooki Digital Badge), Bro
classroom will receive $500.00 in books from cool is that?!

​As with all great things, this was a labor of love that could not have happened without lots of amazing people. In addition to thanking 
​everyone who participated
, we'd 
​also ​
like to recognize several educators who are empowering kids to collaborate on similar book talk video projects. Here are just a few of our favorites:

Finally, I can't post this without thanking my co-commissioner Dr. Brad Gustafson. The #30SecondBookTalk Challenge was 100% his brainchild and I'm honored that he asked me to be a part of it. Thank you, friend! You inspire me ever single day.

As we reflect back on the journey we know that it wasn't just 
​Bronwyn's class
 who won, it was the countless students and educators who got to experience the joy of reading and talking about the books they love. Congrats to 
​everyone who participated and a special shoutout to the #literacylegends who brought home the hardware once again. I've no doubt that the #leadlearners will bring it next year, but until then, happy reading everyone! 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

#30SecondBookTalk FINAL FOUR! Voting Starts NOW!

Okay, y'all... let's do this thing!

The World Championship of Book Talks started with 16 educators from several different continents. After 8,000+ votes we are down to the final four, and YOU get to select the winner. Will it be a "Lead Learner" or will it be a "Literacy Legend"?! Oh, who we are kidding?? It's definitely gonna be a Literacy Legend!

We created this collaborative project to inspire readers, young and old, to celebrate the books they love. Here's how:
  1. Watch the podcast containing the final four book talk videos above.
  2. Choose your favorite and vote HERE.
  3. Follow the action on Twitter at #30SecondBookTalk.
  4. Create and share your own book talks with young people in your life!
Voting ends at 7:00pm EST on Friday, Feb 17th. In addition to taking home the 2017 "Vince LomBooki" digital badge, the winner will also receive $500 in books for their classroom, school, or university. (Thank you Scholastic!!)

Of course, the real winners are the students who get to see the educators they look up to talking about the books they love. We're even seeing classrooms recreate their own #30SecondBookTalk Tournaments using the free resources below. Please keep sharing your love of reading with your students, and don't forget to showcase your classroom's creativity using our hashtag.

Now... let's get this party started! Get your vote on.... NOW!

Resources for the Classroom/Library:.
Voting Link: Cast your vote for this year’s champion!
#30secondbooktalk hashtag - where you can follow the players as they promote their book talks.
Crowdsourced Tips for EPIC BookTalks by #LiteracyLegends

Monday, January 30, 2017

How'd You Do That? Creating & Sharing Digital Flyers, Posters & Infographics.

It's been almost 8 years since I created my first digital flyer for this site. Ever since, every time I post one, I get questions about how it was created.  Over the years, the tools I've used to translate the thoughts swirling around in my head into a visual have changed, but some things haven't. Since I'm not a graphic designer, and have no training in this area, I've always landed on tools that were easy to use and free (or very cheap).  Everything I've learned about these tools over the years has been gleaned through trial and error. For every success I choose to share, there were many failures that preceded it. And if there's one thing I've learned, it's that it is truly amazing what we can accomplish when given the freedom to experiment and draw motivation in our own interests and determination. There's nothing quite like the desire to make a tool bend to my creative will, to help me figure out the ways to do just that!

That said, the very first digital flyer I ever made was inspired by the work of Carl Harvey. I'd read Carl's work on what administrators should expect from a 21st Century School Librarian and wanted to create a visual that built on the foundation he'd laid. Thus, my first (and by far the most popular!) digital flyer was born! Over the years, I've seen this poster hanging at countless libraries and many, many librarians (from as far away as New Zealand), have written to me to ask if they could reproduce it. But more than anything, I get asked how I created it. I always get a little chuckle out of answering this question because, believe it or not, the tool I used to create this flyer was.... wait for it.... Microsoft Word! That's right! There was a time when I was convinced there was nothing Bill Gates and I couldn't do together! All of the clipart also came from Word and if nothing else gives away its age, I can tell that this is old because it came before the Library Girl avatar was born. Instead of my cape wearing alter ego, I employed the services of a clip art cousin to Wednesday Addams to help me emphasize Carl's points! It just goes to show you that even though Word is hardly a graphic design tool, where there's a will, there's a way!

Eventually, I graduated from MS Word (sorry Bill!) to using Comic Life to create digital flyers, like this one about weeding. Over the years, I've fielded lots of questions (and a significant amount of criticism) from librarians when it comes to when/if we should discard books. I'm of the opinion that having fewer, but better, resources is always preferable to shelves brimming with out of date materials. (Not only are out of date resources detrimental to student learning, but they also give the false visual impression to folks that visit our spaces, that we've got all the materials we need!) But I've learned that not everyone agrees with me! That said, this flyer represents my attempt to clarify these thoughts. At the time, I was hooked on using Comic Life, a tool I learned about through Gwyneth Jones, to create all things visual: from flyers like this to images for presentations and everything in between.  On Gwyneth's recommendation, I purchased the Comic Life software (for something like $29.99 at the time) and got every single penny's worth of use out of it. I still use when I want to make something that has a comic feel, and you really can't beat it for creating text heavy images.

These days, I use Canva almost exclusively as my creation tool of choice.  Not only is Canva free, but it's just so easy to use, and oh my stars! Canva creations just look so good! Truly, you've got to work pretty hard to create something in Canva that's unattractive. I love how easy it is to create using custom dimensions, (I chose 11x17 for this flyer, so it would be easy to print), share your creations with collaborators and upload your own images to use as part of any design.  (Note: on the rare occasion that I can't find an image I want in Canva's library, I either create it myself or snag it from Pixabay, which is my favorite source for CC0 images!)I also adore that products can be shared as links or downloaded as either an image  file or PDF. And did I mention, it's all free? What's more, the elves working behind the scenes at Canva are super responsive on Twitter if an issue should arise. The few times I have contacted them, the response has been speedy, friendly and uber helpful. I can't say enough about Canva. I am constantly recommending it to educators to use both for themselves and with students.  (Elementary school folks should be aware, however, that the terms of service require students to be at least 13).  Anyway, for more information on this, my most recent flyer, head over here. 

Finally, let me just say that I've never, ever endorsed a product on this blog in exchange for any kind of compensation - and I never will. All the tools I've mentioned in this post, (or in any other!) I did so because I truly love them and NOT because they've hooked me up with some swag or pennies per click.  Additionally, every flyer I've ever created has been licensed using creative commons and (almost) every time someone has written to use  sometimes I've posted here, I've said yes. (I draw the line at the Library Girl avatar because, well... she's me! Whenever someone writes to inquire about using the image for themselves, I always politely say no and then encourage them to create their own avatar and, finally, I point them to this post from Gwyneth Jones which lists 1001 tools to help them do just that).  To that end, many of my digital creations can be found and downloaded from here, including some that I've made for #2jennsbookclub.  Obviously, I share things on this site because I hope they'll be useful, but I also hope you'll consider creating things for yourself and, ultimately, you'll get students involved in that process too. Flyers, infographics and comics are fun ways to make sense out of complicated information while honing creative skills. Additionally, I encourage you to license your work and help students learn how to license theirs. The more we share, the greater our collective understanding becomes. What's more, the more times students think about how they want their own creations used in the world, the more likely they'll be to give credit to others when using theirs. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Fake News, Alternative Facts and Librarians As Dedicated Defenders of Truth

Let's be clear, there's no such thing as "alternative facts."
The same fact can be used by different people to support alternative opinions, but the facts don't change. Different people can use the same facts to emphasize alternative ideas or to inform different theories, but the facts remain the same. Facts are non-partisan. Facts alone are neutral. It's what we do with them that becomes controversial.

That said, there's a not so old saying that goes "we are drowning in information, but starving for knowledge." (Note: the fact that this saying is attributed to at least 5 different people when I do a quick search for the author is an irony that has not escaped me, but I digress). These days, getting answers to your questions is just about the easiest thing in the world. Getting the right answer is more challenging. Librarians (and Neil Gaiman) have known this for years, but one thing is certain, in the information age, discerning fact from fiction is THE "21st century skill."

I don't think it's hyperbolic to say that there's a battle being waged between the truth and those who seek to distort it for personal gain. This battle is why conversations about what is actually true and what has been created to look like fact, but actually seeks to further an agenda, can be painful. When a resource supports or disproves deeply held beliefs, reactions can be charged. Plus, since so many of these conversations occur behind the shield of the keyboard, it's easy for things to devolve quickly. To that end, I created this flyer to help school librarians, and other educators, guide their students in objectively evaluating online "news." It's not enough to simply create a list of "safe sites," especially for our middle and high school students. We MUST do the work of helping students evaluate all the resources they come across. By only offering them "safe search" options behind the walls of vetted databases or careful curated resource lists, we fail to arm them with the tools they need to spot the fake stuff when we're not around to restrict them. In that endeavor, I hope it will prove useful.

Regardless of how you choose to tackle this issue, school librarians have an opportunity and obligation to lead the charge in helping grow a generation of students who:

  • cannot be duped by "fake news."
  • know instantly that "alternative facts" are like unicorns: nice to dream about perhaps, but don't actually exist.
  • are armed with the tools necessary to discern fact from fiction no matter how slickly the latter is packaged.
This is our charge. You have the skills. The tools are emerging are getting better.  The way is here. We just need the will. It may not be easy, but our students need us to be brave.

Further reading: