“Snap Up” These Books Before They “Disappear!”

If you are looking for a fresh book display, try this!

  1. Locate books with faces on the covers
  2. Make a copy this Google Slide Show for yourself
  3. Manipulate the images on each slide to fit your book covers
  4. Print the images
  5. Cut out the shapes
  6. Affix the SnapChat filters to the front of your books with clear tape.
  7. Share a picture of your display or even a single book in the comments section so we can all admire your work! 


Widening the #DigCit Perspective

This is my second reflective blog post on the #DigCit Summit, which was held on 10/28/16 at Twitter Headquarters in San Francisco. I had the pleasure and the privilege of speaking on a panel regarding “What’s Next for Digital Citizenship,” but also got to spend the rest of the day listening to other speakers in education, business, and technology.

In my first reflective post, I replied to some speakers’ desire to remove the word ‘digital’ from the Digital Citizenship conversation. In this post, I would like to address a specific comment made by one of my fellow panelists, the founder of a cyber consulting group and school curriculum. As we were discussing implications for digital citizenship curricula in schools, she said something to this effect: “I live this every single day, and parents are frightened!”

This statement may be true for her – a woman who makes her living giving presentations on cyber bullying and cyber safety to parents and their children, but I think this is a very dangerous discourse to forward as “truth” because it is essentially a truth that has been created and perpetuated in a vacuum.

Let me explain:

When an educational consultant says that “parents are afraid,” I think it is important to deconstruct that statement. If you are a consultant or guest speaker who has been invited to present internet safety topics to parents, your audience will be filled with parents who are choosing to attend because they are interested in the topic. Those parents, however, likely make up a very small percentage of the entire parent population in the school. While it is important to recognize the fears of the minority, it is detrimental to assign those fears to the entire population of parents. Why? These very publicly made statements keep parents, teachers, and administrators from considering curricula and parent education that goes beyond addressing fears. This vacuum of fear is not just limited to parent education, though.

As odd as it may seem, the digital citizenship community is saturated by people outside of education. These companies, consultants, police officers, and motivational speakers who have made their way into the digital citizenship space have a very skewed understanding of the way adolescents are engaged with technology.

Consultants come into schools with the intent of lecturing about cyber-bullying or warning about the criminal consequences of sexting. Then, their purposes for speaking are affirmed by the few examples they may hear from students or administrators during their visit. Finally, the consultant moves on to the next school with a few more horror stories in their back pocket to share with the next audience.

These consultants see a very small snapshot of our students’ experiences during the time they are in our schools, and when their purpose for coming is to listen to problems and warn of dangers and consequences, these guests are essentially creating a cycle of discourse that is pessimistic and disadvantageous to the successful integration of technology in schools.

So instead of viewing the state of the internet through the small lens often shared by cyber-safety consultants, here are a few facts to help widen your perspective:

  1. A very small fraction of students actually encounter cyber-bullying or report experiences online that leave them feeling fearful, vulnerable, or emotionally damaged (Lenhart et al., 2011). Teens that were interviewed about their online experiences talked a lot about drama, gossip, and rumors among friend groups, but “few used the language of ‘bullying’ or ‘harassment’ unless (the adult researchers) introduced these terms” (boyd, 2009, p.108).
  2. In a recent Pew Internet Research Study, 78% of the teens interviewed cite positive experiences online including feeling closer to other people and having an experience that made them feel good about themselves (Lenart et al., 2011).
  3. Only 13% of teens report online experiences causing problems with parents; less than 8% say social networking experiences have resulted in a face to face fight with someone else, and only 6% report their online behavior getting them in trouble in school (Lenart et al., 2011).
  4. The 2010-2011 Indicators of School Crime and Safety research (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2013) indicate that only 9% of students in grades 6–12 experienced cyber-bullying at least once during that year.


While I recognize that roughly 8% of students report cyber-bullying as an issue, this means there are roughly 92% of students navigating online spaces without this problem. My fear is that when people focused on the 8% are the loudest voices involved in developing curriculum, influencing policy, and speaking about digital citizenship with our students, there is no one advocating for the 92%. Who will show these students and their parents the wonderful opportunities that technology offers them as citizens of a global community? Maybe by stepping outside of the vacuum and widening your #digcit perspective, that advocate could be you.



boyd, d. (2009). Friendship. In M. Ito (Ed.), Hanging out, messing around, and geeking out         (pp. 79-115). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Lenhart, A., Madden, M., Smith, A., Purcell, K., Zickuhr, K., Rainie, L. (2011). Teens, kindness and cruelty on social network sites: How American teens navigate the new world of “digital citizenship”. Retrieved from Pew Internet & American Life Project website: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Teens-and-social-media.aspx

National Center for Education Statistics (2013). Indicators of school crime and safety: 2013. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/programs/crimeindicators/crimeindicators2013/key.asp


Words Matter: Why I’m not ready to drop “digital” from the #DigCit conversation

This weekend (10/28/16) I had the honor and the pleasure of sitting on a panel of speakers during the #DigCitSummit, which was held at Twitter Headquarters in San Francisco. During this eight hour day of speaking, listening, and collaborating, there were several big ideas I felt compelled to write about as I reflected and digested my learning.

Let’s start with the topic of this conference – “digital citizenship”: a term that has been living on the outskirts of academia for a good dozen years, but is only beginning to make its way into the consciousness of educators and educational technology companies. Some in the field have embraced the terminology, others say “digital citizenship” is merely a new label for an old idea.

The argument that digital citizenship is nothing more than being a good citizen in all aspects of life is one that was brought up by Derek Larson during a panel presentation this weekend, but was also mentioned informally in conversations throughout the day. Many argue that we should ditch the word “digital” and just continue to teach citizenship while recognizing that citizens today live simultaneously in online and offline spaces. Others like Jennifer Casa-Todd and Sylvia Duckworth suggest a change in name from “digital citizenship” to “digital leadership.”

These differing perspectives on digital citizenship are not new to me. One blog I have revisited often in my own thinking journey is titled “Why I Am Renouncing My Digital Citizenship.” In it, the blogger argues that the discourse around digital citizenship has actually harmed technology integration through its fear-mongering messages. An Edutopia article I’ve circled back to a few times states that digital citizenship is a misnomer because citizenship is more than responsibility. These are perspectives I agree with wholeheartedly. Essentially, all of these authors are pointing out that words matter — and that maybe the word(s) we have collectively chosen for this concept just do not work. But rather than scrap the vocabulary, I would argue that it’s time to expand the concept….

During the #DigCitSummit, I put out a Tweet saying I was not ready to drop the word ‘digital’ from the “digital citizenship” conversation just yet, and I would like to elaborate on that Tweet a bit more here:


  1. Words matter in curriculum development and policy making. Citizenship education is not a new concept. Since the earliest schools were formed in this country, the goal was to develop citizens who could be informed about and contribute to the societies of which they were a part. Today, citizenship education continues in many forms through character education, social studies and civics courses, service learning projects, and initiatives like Democracy Schools. These courses of study, taken from kindergarten through high school graduation, introduce students to communities of the classroom, the family, the school, the town, state, and nation. Today we are citizens of digital communities as well, communities that may include people we know and people we have never met with face to face. When the vocabulary of a “digital citizen” is made explicit, educators are forced to consider this layer of citizenship in their curricular planning, development and delivery. Elementary school children will continue taking field trips to the post office and enjoying classroom visits from police and firemen during “community week,” but the explicitness of digital communities through the term “digital citizenship” should implore educators to weave digital community introductions right alongside expectations for crayon drawn maps of their city blocks.
  2. Citizenship should not be confused with personal ethics. One of the biggest arguments people make from dropping the term digital from “digital citizenship” is because they narrowly consider a citizen as someone who is personally responsible and ethical. If that is your definition of a citizen, it make sense to say that if we are ‘good people’ offline, we should just be that way all the time, eliminating the need for separate terminology. I see ethics as only a very small aspect of citizenship, however. If you even stop and consider that citizens have a responsibility to give back to the communities of which they are a part, this looks very different in digital spaces than it does in traditional ones. Throw in the aspects of social justice and equity, and consider the magnitude of possibilities that being able to connect globally might offer. Digital citizenship curricula should strive to show students possibilities over problems, opportunities over risks, and community successes over personal gain. 
  3. Digital citizens need different skills than traditional citizens. So much of the digital citizenship conversation has been centered around ethics and behaviors, that we have not taken a lot of time to stop and consider the skills that digital citizens need. In the earliest days of schooling, students were taught to read and write so that they might be informed voters. They were shown workplace skills that would allow them to contribute back to society. Looking at those two concepts alone, let’s think about how much has changed in the last decade. First, reading and writing only scratch the surface of skills that people need in a day and age of the 24 hour news cycle, social media, and ease of sharing. People need to be able to  navigate their way through a steady barrage of information, determine the credible from the incredible, and synthesize ideas from text, image, video, meme, info-graphic, and even emoji! Literacy has a whole new meaning for today’s digital citizens than it did for our previous generation. And what does it mean to contribute to the digital communities we belong to? Is a “like” enough? What about throwing a few dollars at a Go Fund Me campaign? Should I be contributing as many blog posts to the educational community as I use to help spur on my own thinking? I cannot pretend to know the answers to any of these questions, but I know I wouldn’t be asking them without having had the terminology of the “digital citizen” brought to light. We still have so much work to do, and the explicitness of the language should be a reminder that today’s citizens are NOT the same citizens we were educating even a decade ago.

In closing, let’s not let the word “digital” disappear from “digital citizenship” just yet. Instead, let’s re-think what it means to be citizens of global, digital communities and start to reshape the policies, messages, curricula and educational practices instead of just the terminology.

Some #MakerSpace Resources

Hello friends!

Like many of you, I have started dipping my toes into the MakerSpace waters. Our high school students have the opportunity to use the space, and the rest of our library, during their 42 minute lunch hour. While students have been eager to check out the new “gadgets” we have to offer, many do not know where to get started with them.

The heart of a MakerSpace, in my opinion, is creativity and discovery. I did not want the , pace to be teacher led, but knew my students needed a few resources to get them started, so I designed, printed and laminated some leaflets that hang out in a display in our MakerSpace area. Feel free to use some, or all, of the leaflets I have created in your own spaces!



Click Here for Leaflet!
Click Here for Leaflet!






Click Here for Leaflet!
Click Here for Leaflet!

John Dewey Would Hate Your Digital Citizenship Curriculum

There. I said it. Someone had to.

Everyone is talking about #digcit right now. Maybe the term is finally catching on. Maybe it’s just the buzzword phrase school districts are using as they roll out 1:1 initiatives. Maybe these lessons have staying power; maybe they don’t. But I do know one thing….John Dewey would hate your #digcit curriculum.

“Who is this John Dewey?” you ask. If you’ve ever taken a course in educational psychology, his name should ring a bell. Dewey was an educational reformist known for his advocacy of both progressive education and democracy.

Over 100 years ago, John Dewey (1909) argued for better citizenship education in schools. He believed that the school’s definition of a citizen as an informed voter and follower of the law was too narrow and asserted that a good citizen was many things – a voter and a rule follower, but also a community member who must function as a worker, a leader, a parent or mentor who can use the sum of their experiences and skills to “contribute to the values of life [and] add to the decencies and graces of civilization wherever he is” (p. 10).

To fill these roles as an adult, Dewey contended that a child must learn how to lead and when to follow; how to think, ask questions, and explore for answers; how to persevere; and how to communicate, collaborate, and contribute to help move society forward. Dewey so eloquently pointed out that citizenship and moral training in education were nothing without context.

There was no one program of study or course a child could take that would turn him into a good citizen. It was simply not enough to lecture children about how to behave in society; instead, Dewey felt that the school should become the society through which children learned citizenship skills.

He subsequently called for an overhaul of the educational experience in order to help students develop into good citizens (Dewey 1909, 1916).  

Schools have made tremendous strides since Dewey’s sentiments emerged in the early twentieth century. Research into, and implementation of, social and emotional learning, classroom communities, and democratic schools all stem from the visions Dewey had of the school as a society. But just as educators seemed to be on the verge of getting it right, a new type of citizenship emerged.

While Dewey focused on students as citizens of their classrooms, families, and communities, he could have never predicted the digital movement that would turn society into an interconnected global community accessible at the touch of a button.

If Dewey were here today, he would caution us to step back and look at the messages being delivered through digital citizenship curriculum. These messages, by and large, do not encourage students to engage in global conversation or consider the possibilities of collaboration unhindered by boundaries. Our lessons do not recognize the accomplishments of citizens coming together for a good cause, or ask students to consider the power of their voice in tough digital conversations about gender, race, religion or issues of politics and social injustices.

In fact, many of our digital citizenship lessons do not even ask kids to think beyond themselves: What should they do to maintain privacy? What should they do if someone is mean to them? How should they positively brand themselves to look good to future employers? What should they avoid posting to keep from being arrested or suspended?

Dewey would remind us that being a citizen means more than just following rules. A citizen is part of a  community, and being a citizen of a community means interacting with each other, supporting one another, and working together to make our corner of the world a better place. Isn’t it time for our digital citizenship lessons to start reflecting some of his ideals?



Dewey, J. (1909). Moral principles in education. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Dewey, J. (1916). Education and democracy. New York.

Bust portrait of John Dewey, facing slightly left


By Underwood & Underwood – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3a51565.
This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.



Discount Converse Meet our Maker Space

A few weeks ago I was approached by a young lady inquiring about our library’s 3D printer. She had found a great deal at the mall on a pair of Converse sneakers, but the shoes had a hole in the sole. Because of the way mannequins are built, stores must drill a hole in the bottom of any shoes they wish to display. But, hey. Who can pass up a pair of $5 Converse?

The young lady thought she could solve her problem by 3D printing a “plug” for the hole. So, I handed the student some instructions for TinkerCad and later that night, I received an STL file in my email. We printed the plug, and found that even though she had done some careful measuring, there were still a few mistakes in the final print. Using the “prototype” she redesigned the file and sent it back to me within hours, this time, for a successful fit!

I love this story because it demonstrates how our Maker Space is more than a collection of tools and toys. The time, space, and resources provided to high school students in our Maker Space are developing thinkers and problem solvers. Not only are students creating solutions to problems, they are learning the process of trying, modifying, and redesigning as they work, which is the same type of perseverance we hope they continue to use in all aspects of life!

IMG_9783 (1)
Prototype was a bit big! Back to the drawing board.
foot flange
Foot flange holds up a mannequin, but makes it hard to display shoes!


We’re so much cooler online…

Have you heard the Brad Paisley song, I’m So Much Cooler Online? The lyrics to that song, specifically the chorus, have been going through my head a lot in the last few weeks.

I have had Library Media Center Directors and technology leaders from around the area contacting me to see if they could make a visit to our library. People hear about the work my team and I have been doing through this blog and through my posts on Twitter and other social media sites, and I guess they see something in the work that speaks to them and their situation. As a teacher, my doors are always open – to students, peers in my building, and colleagues outside of it….

but here is the thing: we’re so much cooler online!

What do I mean by that?

Well, I think it is easy for us bloggers, connected educators, and leaders to share our successes. When things go well or we have a great idea, of course we want to put it out to the world! But here’s the thing…. are we making a mistake by only sharing the good?

I’ve seen it. I’ve seen the look on people’s faces when they walk into my space and notice the dirty carpet, mismatched furniture, dingy walls. I’ve seen the bit of doubt in their eyes when they realize that on the surface, what we have isn’t much prettier than what they do.

So, I guess this is just my moment to say to all of you who read this blog, to those who look at Pinterest and Twitter and other social media sites and feel completely overwhelmed with it all…STOP. Stop feeling overwhelmed. Stop feeling like you aren’t doing enough. Stop feeling like you don’t have anything to offer. The truth is, we are all so much cooler online.

And while I am the topic, here is some more truth:

  1. There are days when I shut down my maker space because I don’t have the staff to facilitate it.
  2. There are days when I want to throw my hands in the air because the kids would much rather “chill out” than engage in any type of learning.
  3. Every period of the day: materials are left out, water bottles get left behind, furniture ends up in disarray.
  4. There never seems to be enough time, money, or people to support the work that I know is best for kids.
  5. Even in our most successful moments, the path to get there is messy.

But, here is the good news. News that was shared with me today by a wonderful colleague, Lynn White: “change happens in the small moments.” Change doesn’t mean spending thousands of dollars on the newest technology, the newest furniture, and the rest of the best of the best. Change happens when we make connections with our kids. When we share our successes AND our struggles with our colleagues – when we support one another on this crazy ride called education.

So, friends…keep sharing your successes, but share your struggles too. It’s important that we are all in this together; our online personas shouldn’t shut out or shut down the ambition of others in the field. I look forward to more of your failure stories, and promise to share a few more of my own too 🙂



Explore 204: Library Transformation

Our library transformation was featured on this month’s “Explore 204” – a series of videos about the happenings in our district.

Explore 204: Library Transformation from IPSD 204 on YouTube.

To read more about the work we’ve been doing, check out some of these blog posts:


Tips and Tricks for Genre Sorting

So you have decided to genre sort your library? Awesome! I don’t think you will regret it. There are definitely some things you must think about before you get started, though. Here are a few tips and tricks I have for making the process go as smoothly as possible.

  1. Do some research. What types of tagging do you already use in your cataloging system? Make a list of every genre that appears in your records and the number of books tagged with that genre. Will you need to plan space for 300 Science Fiction books? 500 Graphic Novels?
  2. Choose your genre labels with purpose. In my high school, Urban Fiction is a genre that many students are interested in and ask about. Depending on your school’s population, Urban Fiction may just be blended in with Realistic Fiction. Do you want to lump a few genres together? For us, it made sense to pair Mystery and Suspense rather than separate the two. Knowing your collection and your students is the most important part of the decision making process.
  3. Consider the arrangement. Once you have all of these books sorted, how will they appear on the shelves? Sorting the genres alphabetically would put Action next to Classics which would be followed by Fantasy. My staff and I decided this arrangement did not make much sense. We wanted our genre sort to encourage browsing! Therefore, we made the decision to put similar genres next to one another. If I enjoy reading Science Fiction, my interests may lead me into the Fantasy section which is just one shelf over.
  4. Consider the placement. The beauty of genre sorting is that you now have these smaller collections that can be separated from the other genres and placed around the library. Fiction no longer needs to be contained to several stacks all in a row! We chose to place our more popular genres in prominent locations – shelves that were flat against the wall opposite our entrance. These popular titles are now one of the first things visitors see when they walk in! Genres that do not circulate as frequently, such as Historical Fiction, still have a place, but not such a prominent one.
  5. Call in the volunteers! Genre sorting is a HUGE task. Do not expect to do it alone. Share your vision with others and generate a list of parents and students who are willing to pitch in.

Now that you are ready to start the physical work, here is the order of operations I would recommend:

  1. Start with your largest genre. Trust me on this one. Once you get your biggest genre out of the way, it will be easier to locate titles as you move on to the other genres.
  2. Generate a report. To get started, I pulled a report of all books tagged with the word “Fantasy” in our catalog and handed the list and a cart to a volunteer. If your digital records are in decent shape, your report should catch many of the books.
  3. Create and affix a label. Create and print a small label with the genre name on it that can be affixed to the spine of the book. We found it helpful to pick a different color for the font on each genre label. This makes for easy sorting and re-shelving as our books come back after a checkout. These labels fit just below the call number labels that were already on the spine.
  4. Update the digital record. Choose a two to three letter code that represents each genre you have selected. A book that used to have the call number FIC SMI might now have the call number FAN FIC SMI (Fantasy) or MYS FIC SMI (Mystery).
  5. Put the books in their new home. But save some room! You will find more books that fit the genre that were not picked up in your initial sweep of the shelves.
  6. Return to step one with a new genre.


But what if….

  1. I don’t have room on my shelves to store books during this process? Get ready to move books. Often. Our process was messy at times. We had to snake together what was left on the shelves in order to make room for a newly labeled genre even though we knew that the same books we just snaked were going to be taken off of the shelf soon when it was their turn to be processed. Also, use this process as an opportunity to embrace your inner weeder, letting go of books that are no longer needed in your library. This will free up some shelving space and really help highlight the awesome books you keep.
  2. We have books that fit into multiple genres? Darn that Edward Cullen! Is it Romance? Is it Fantasy? Basically, you have to prepare yourself to make some choices. Amazon was actually a great help to us. When you look up a title and scroll down the page, Amazon will show you which genres the book has been a top seller in. When all else failed, we tried to think about our students. Who would be more attracted to Twilight? Someone seeking a love story or someone who enjoys books like Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings? I’ll let you guess where that title ended up 😉
  3. I have books that do not seem to fit ANYWHERE? We had that problem too, and I actually ended up creating a whole new genre out of these odd titles that just kept grabbing my attention. Books like Beastly by Alex Flinn and Cinder by Marissa Meyer ended up in a section all of their own that we lovingly labeled Remix. If you have enough of something that is unique and can create its own category, go for it. If not, go back to your reader. Ask yourself, who is most likely to pick up this seemingly random book? Then, listen to your gut!


Genre sorting is messy, difficult work. But, it is also very fun and rewarding work. You will reap the reward for all of your labors through wonderful conversations with kids – especially when they are standing in front of a shelf seemingly curated just for them.