Category Archives: Ed Tech

A Great Way to Get Kids Thinking about Plagiarism

Oh Hi Becky Farmville Tweet Goes Viral – Business Insider

Here’s What Happens When Your Joke Goes Massively Viral On Twitter

Caroline Moss

Jul. 15, 2014, 10:57 AM 798,639 40

via Oh Hi Becky Farmville Tweet Goes Viral – Business Insider

Man, I wish Scott hadn’t used the F word in his original tweet.  However, I think that we can still use this as a really relevant case study on plagiarism (with a little, um, censorship).

The gist is this: a random guy tweets something funny.  Other people steal his tweet and repost it as though it were their own.  Even famous people.  One comedian even accuses Scott of plagiarizing him.

Scott’s thoughts on the experience are fascinating- I loved that he said that he doesn’t understand how people can read something, relate to it, and then say “yup, that’s mine now,” without giving one thought to how it effects the person who created it.

I think that this example is so much easier for kids to “get” than what we’ve used in the past.  I love it.  It’s mine now — with proper attribution, of course. 🙂




Get More Out of Google

I stumbled upon this graphic from HackCollege, and I just had to share.  Very useful info. Enjoy!


Livescribe 3. Grrr.

I have been eying something like this since the late 90s.  For real.  I remember walking into a Franklin Covey store and thinking that they were the coolest thing ever.  I knew, though, that there was no way that the technology was there yet, especially for the price.  So I waited.

These days, I have a ton of research to do.  I spend most of my “downtime” reading journal articles and taking notes.  Sometimes, if inspiration strikes, I will write two or three pages of my future dissertation in a notebook.

Organization was starting to get insanely out of hand.  When I went to put everything in one place, I thought, “wow – wouldn’t it be nice to have all of this converted into text for me?”

So began a search for the new iteration of digital notebooks and digital pens.

Livescribe has a ton of cool features.  However, the only one I cared about was the handwriting-to-text feature.  I don’t need to talk to my pen.


Here’s the skinny: The OCR (optical character recognition) is great.  It got almost everything right.  The notebooks are of great quality and don’t cost any more than a Moleskine.  The pen is light, easy to use, and feels pretty comfortable in hand.  It is a little too fat, but whatever.



Okay. Here goes.  This might get a little cockamamie, but that’s the app’s fault. Trust me.

So say you have a couple of pages written in a notebook, and want them transferred to a word document…

First, you need to go into the app and go to the “feed” view.  You cannot change handwriting to text in the notebook view- only the feed view.  So, if you have more than one notebook in the feed, good luck keeping that all organized.  That was one of the deal breakers for me.  Not everything needs to look like a Facebook feed, people.  For real.  I can just see the Livescribe guys thinking that this will make it seem “cool” –

“Hey! Let’s mix up all their notes so that they are chronological instead of in the actual notebooks they took them in to stay organized and call it a feed- like social media! Cause the kids love social media! C’mon, hepcats! We’ll be sooo groovy that way!”

So you are in the feed, you swipe to turn your handwriting to text, aaand… hm.  You can create a pdf of what you wrote, but that doesn’t do anything for me if I want to add it to a paper I’m writing.  I can copy/paste it into the document… but oh. my. god. the formatting is ridiculous.  You will spend more time reformatting the text than you would have by just typing it yourself. So basically, you have this text and then you have nowhere to go with it.

If you want to send it to Evernote, well, you are sending a pdf attachment.  Which is kind of crap, in my opinion.  I’d much rather have it go in as a note without having to open a second thing to look at it.  Same with OneNote, by the way- and Apple users should NOT get all excited by this new OneNote- the iOS version AND the free Mac version are incapable of opening pdfs.  Which is the only format Livescribe exports.  Sooo….

Oh- back to the app- so in the feed view, it cuts up what you have written into these “snips.” So if you pause to think for a sec, it creates a new snip.  I’m a little slow 🙂 so I ended up with a million different snips, which was annoying.  I looked around, and yes! They can be merged.  Except.

Snips from one page can be merged.  For some inexplicable reason, snips from more than one page cannot be merged together.  I don’t know about you,  but I write things down that take up more than one piece of notebook paper sometimes.  So, IF I wanted to turn my notes into a pdf (stupid, but go with it), I can only get ONE page worth of writing onto a pdf EVEN THOUGH that might only be a paragraph or two of actual text.  So now I have to have multiple pdf files for like five paragraphs of text.  Swell.

And don’t forget- all those snips are all jumbled up in the feed.  You can’t turn handwriting to text in the actual notebook- you have to go “work” with it in the feed to do that.

So, cool pen (sort of), nice notebooks, CRAP app.  And the app KILLS the product.  Unless you’d like to drive yourself to madness, don’t buy this.  I returned mine and bought a few skinny Moleskine notebooks that I can organize.  It’s working just fine.  I did buy one of those Evernote Moleskines, so we will see how I like that.






5 Little Flips to Modernize Your School Library

I had the best time tonight. I had dinner with an old friend, a new friend, and an old acquaintance who really should be a friend.

We gossiped. We talked about books. We talked about the fact that we were talking about books.

I noticed something at dinner. I was sitting with a teacher and two tech integration guys. And me- a library media specialist. There was this unspoken (and mumbled a couple of times) thing in the air about librarians. I think they felt comfortable about it because I’m an unconventional librarian- I have surround sound, for god’s sake. But, in the grand scheme, nothing has changed. The perception- the stereotype- is still there. And I can’t go it alone.


We all need to work together to change it. Otherwise, those of us forging the newer path look like we are just “jerks” bent on making the rest of you look bad. That isn’t the goal. We want to push our profession forward. In order to do that, we all have to be in this together. So I thought I would share a few things I’ve heard by the “water cooler” and you can go from there…


1. Tech Integration. It isn’t just the tech integration guy’s job. As a matter of fact, I get a little salty when my guy crosses the tech line into my territory. I would have to say that 50% of the tech integration stuff is OUR job. They can keep the google integration, grade book programs, blogging, smart boards (barf), and teacher websites. If we aren’t pushing databases, ebooks, audiobooks, literacy apps, etc., then how will we stay relevant? And if your tech guy starts teaching Boolean searching, you have my permission to go medieval. I almost did.


2. Environment. This isn’t your momma’s library. I have gotten so many positive remarks since I started piping music into my library. I play mostly Vitamin String Quartet (modern music, classical style) – my music policy is NO VOICES. I’m a musician, so I realize that if there is too much going on, I will pay too much attention to the music. However, I have noticed that my own productivity has gone up because of the music, so I know that the kids’ has too. And Thrift Shop done classically is a trip. I also bought couches and bean bags a few years ago. It’s a mess. The bean bags are all over the place- my assistant and I happily clean them up every morning. You have no idea how nice it is to see kids lounging with a laptop, concentrating. It’s magical. Ditch the stodgy view of what the library should look like. The kids need a safe, comfortable, serene place to work. Like I said- the compliments come in every day. From teachers AND kids.


3. The books. I just received a compliment about books today. I am a middle school librarian, and the books in my library aren’t available in the other middle school libraries. Parents are asking friends and relatives to check books out of my library for their kids (against policy, but I let it slide). Put your beliefs aside. Put your prejudices aside. Put your preconceived notions aside. Put your fears aside. Some of your students are gay. Some of your students have eating disorders. Some of your students are victims of abuse. Carry books for everyone!!! Only restrict THE MOST edgy books- the 5% most edgy books- in your library. Don’t make everything good available ONLY for the oldest students. They might not be the ones who need them!!! You have a varied population, and you need to cater to everyone! It’s in our code of ethics. Don’t be afraid of the .01% of parents who might be offended. If they show up, tell them, “I have 1000 students and I need to have something that speaks to everyone. If your child checked something out that you find questionable, please tell your child to return it and talk to me about a book that would be great for them.” Done. Was that so hard?


4. Back to Tech. We need to get more tech savvy, people. I just acquired 14 iPads for my library, and I plan to use the hell out of them. I have plans. Buy some books- iPads in Library is a good one. Troll the internet- Twitter and Pinterest are my favorite resources for Ed tech tips. Find an ebook supplier (I use Follett) and then go into classrooms and market the hell out of it. Don’t buy another goddamn encyclopedia. Find a Web 2.0 tool that relates to info literacy, research, reading, or whatever, and master it. Then, offer to teach it to kids. When I started, I had three false starts… Nooks, Kindle Fires, and a third party ebook client…. FAILS. Don’t let the fails set you back. If you have questions, ask me. Don’t do that librarian thing – well, I tried and it didn’t work, so I’m not trying again. Technology is horrible. It doesn’t work in my district. NOPE. You are wrong. Technology doesn’t always work anywhere. Oh well. Move on. Make it work.


5. Push IN. I surprised the hell out of one of my administrators the other day. She walked through the library and saw me teaching… Then she did a surprise visit to a teacher and found me teaching…. And then she dropped into another classroom and (you guessed it) saw me teaching. She didn’t realize that I do as much push in as I do, and that’s a good thing. When you surprise them like that… Priceless. Is every day like that? Of course not. I got really lucky that day 🙂 but it isn’t rare, either. I constantly badger teachers to let me come in and teach something, anything. Come on- we are the best people the school has to teach research skills, for instance. Do you have any idea how many lessons you can prep on research? Especially with Common Core???

Bottom line? MARKETING. You need to run your library like a business. Be a retail manager. What is going to bring in revenue?

Tough love. 🙂


Gamification at IETC

The Illinois Ed Tech Conference has been awesome.  I love seeing what others are doing.  I even get a lot from eavesdropping on other attendees.  This year, I am presenting on Video Games and Gamification, and I have been pleasantly surprised that others seem to know a bit about it.

Here are some great resources on Gamifying Education…


428624_10151453082392763_771744986_n gamification-education gamification-infographic


I absolutely love a good infographic. 🙂

You should search up Extra Credits on YouTube, too- those guys have great information on video games in general. I don’t know how much time I have spent watching them.  We will just let that go…

Have a great weekend!


Zotero, Mendeley, RefWorks, and Endnote (Oh My!)

Hi All!

I just wanted to drop a line to share my experience today- I have spent the last four hours researching and testing the various source management tools out there, and I have to say that my classmate, Paula is my hero.  She suggested Mendeley, and Mendeley won for me.

Here is my two cents (take it or leave it, obviously):

icon2_zoteroZotero: A little over my head.  The learning curve is steep, and the interface isn’t as user-friendly as I would like.  When I tried to import my pdfs, they did not come with the source information.  No app support.  If you start fresh with Zotero, I think you will be very pleased.  Everything is in the cloud, which is vital these days.  For me, I had a ton of pdfs saved in Dropbox that I wanted to be able to drag and drop into whatever program I chose, and have that program recognize the files.  I couldn’t figure out how to make Zotero do that seamlessly.  You can create folders for different topics, which is good.  If you are a Firefox user, Zotero might be the best choice.  They have a plugin.  I use Chrome, so it wasn’t a feature I would use.

8322ade9fa513f6511f643c0066a87a7Endnote: Not free.  Expensive (which is even worse than not free).  Not as user-friendly as the other options.    I couldn’t figure out how to download the info I was looking for (although, according to their promo video, it IS possible).  They do have a 30 day free trial, so you can try it for yourself.  And they have cloud support and an app, which is good.  I got frustrated with the desktop program, so I didn’t try those.

images-1Refworks: Even more expensive than Endnote.  Twice, actually (Endnote costs $113 for two years of access, Refworks costs $100/year).  No free trial.  End of research. 🙂


imagesMendeley: Free.  Drag and drop and everything is there: the journal, issue, volume, pages, stable url, abstract- everything.  Most of the time, at least.  When it isn’t, you can search Google Scholar right from the record.  If that doesn’t work, you have to do it manually.  Out of the 200 I imported, I need to enter about 30 manually.  The interface reminds me of Evernote Desktop, which makes it really user-friendly and idiot-proof, which is good for me.  It has a little bookmarklet like Zotero, too- so when you are doing new research, it’s easy.  I tried it, and it works.  You can also create folders to keep things organized.  App support is there, but reviews say it tends to crash.  The one thing I wish I could do is annotate right in the app.  It will let you highlight and annotate, but only on a computer.  I don’t see that feature available in the app.  I will say that so far, it hasn’t crashed on me.  It’s in the cloud, so you can access it from anywhere, although, obviously the desktop version has many more features (true with Zotero as well).

So… there’s my opinion.  Like I said, take it or leave it- but I thought it would be really sad if four hours of work was wasted on just me. 🙂  Obviously, no one thing can give you everything (why???).  Mendeley had the most bang for the non-existent buck for me.  Oh- there was one other one that might look good- qiqqa- BUT they don’t support Mac.  Who does that anymore?  And why do they all have red and white logos? Oh, dear, I need to go to bed.  Four hours of researching research tools has gone to my head.


Five Reasons Every Teacher Should Use Evernote


I have been using Evernote for almost a year now, and I love it.  I feel like I constantly find new and exciting things to do with it, too.  I don’t really get the whole recipe thing, but I don’t cook, so that explains that!

There are ten main things that I do with Evernote, and that any one of us could implement immediately to make life a little easier.  That’s always good, right?

Evernote is a free app that is compatible with every device you have.  Here’s a little video from the Evernote folks that explains some of the basics.

So, for my Top 5 Reasons Every Teacher Should Use Evernote…

1. Penultimate.  Penultimate is a really good handwriting app that syncs directly to Evernote.  Whenever I have notes to take, I just open my iPad, take out my Bamboo Stylus, and take notes.  I really like being able to take notes by hand, and then Evernote lets me organize them however I like.  No more notebooks filled with notes that have nothing to do with the ones before and after them, never to be seen again.  I can even add tags to my notes so that they are searchable later- even if I am not looking in the Evernote Notebook where I put them.  If that helps me, just think of how much that would help kids.

2. Class Notebooks.  You can create a notebook for your classes and then share them with your students.  When you put class notes, printables, resources, homework, whatever- in the notebooks, they are immediately accessible to the kids from their own Evernote account.  It sure beats the process you have to go through on most websites to upload assignments.  And the media choices are endless- you can upload videos, pictures, audio, any kind of document- anything you can think of, really.  Want to record an important lecture?  Just hit the record button in the Evernote app on your phone, give the lecture, stop the recording, and touch the appropriate notebook for the class.

3. Student Portfolios.  Just as you can create notebooks for your classes, the kids can create notebooks of their work.  They can take pictures of drawings, add video, audio- all of the same things you can do.  They can share their work with you, their friends, their family, the world, or no one at all.  The best part is that they can take it with them.  They don’t lose it when they leave middle school or high school- they have it forever.

4. All of the Note Taking Possibilities.  I already mentioned Penultimate, but how cool is it that kids can just snap a picture of the work on the white board at the end of class?  Or record a brainstorming session for a class project?  One great idea is for kids to create a notebook for a research project, and then use Evernote’s web clipper to grab just what they need from a site rather than the whole page.  All of their research is stored in one place, without barfing from their folders and backpacks.  Pretty cool.

5. Digital Textbooks.  Instead of asking kids to lug a big book around, you can create a notebook and add all of the stuff you would normally want them to access from the textbook right in there.  Do it once, and it is there forever.  So, if you use certain content every year, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every year.  Unlike those big textbooks, you only keep the content you need- not all of that extra stuff that just gets in the way in the textbook.  And, when you need something that the textbook doesn’t have, you add that too.  That way, kids don’t have a million different places to look to find that one thing they need tonight.

I use Evernote at home, too- I take pictures of receipts, scan important bills, scan and take pictures of all of my children’s artwork; I use Evernote Peek to practice states and capitals with my son.  I use it as a librarian and I use it as a student.  Like I said, I come up with new ways to use Evernote every day.  Give it a try!

Have a great weekend!