Category Archives: Teaching

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. 🙂




5 Questions with Stacey Kade

My high school will be hosting its very first Writers Week in April.  We have a lot of great stuff planned.  There is one thing, in particular, that I am really excited about.

On a whim, I decided to reach out to bestselling author Stacey Kade, to see if she would be up for coming to talk to our kids.  I knew that she lives in the area, and thought, what the heck.  She said yes!  This is going to be such a great experience for our students.  I can’t wait.

Stacey has written two excellent series, The Ghost and the Goth series, and the Project Paper Doll series.  And, for anyone who didn’t read the free short story about Will and Alona, you’re welcome (Spoiler alert! Do not read this if you haven’t read the series.).

I had the opportunity to ask Stacey FIVE QUESTIONS in anticipation of her visit next month, and for our students, Stacey gives a challenge in the last answer…

Why do you write?

I write to entertain myself first. To tell myself a story. And because it becomes an itch beneath my skin if I go for too long without writing. 🙂 But it’s also my job. And I feel that’s important to emphasize. I have deadlines and requirements that I must meet, just as anybody does with a job. It’s not simply about what I want to do and when I want to do it. It’s more complicated than that, especially as a full-time writer.

Which of your characters would you love to have lunch with?

Ha! Um, all of them? Seriously, for the ones I’m writing now, I have all kinds of questions. And for the ones I’ve already written, I’d love to catch up with them and see how they’re doing since last we “spoke.” It could be like a reunion buffet. 🙂

Do you have a “writing ritual?”

I’ve trained myself to write anywhere, mainly because if you become too dependent on certain elements being present that will stop you from making progress. If you tell yourself, “I can’t write unless I have a certain pen or I’m in a certain place,” then you’re giving yourself an out on writing that day. And if you’ve got a deadline, you can’t afford that lost time. Being on book tour and a tight deadline for revisions several years ago broke me of that way of thinking.

That being said, I firmly believe in the power of ritual and training your brain to understand that this sequence of events means, “It’s time to write.” I do all of my drafting at the coffee shop near my house. I have a preferred seat and a preferred drink while I’m there, too! 🙂

What new thing of yours are you most excited about?

Oh, gosh, this year is big, and I’m really excited! I have two new books coming out in the same year, for the first time, and they’re less than three months apart. My first adult romance, 738 DAYS, is coming out on June 7, and that was a story that I wanted to write for years but never thought I’d have the chance. And my first YA contemporary, FOR THIS LIFE ONLY, comes out on August 30, and that is also a story I didn’t think would sell (due to controversy, religion, etc.)  It’s deeply personal to me as a pastor’s kid myself. My main character, Jace, is a pastor’s son. Jace suffers a near-death experience after a car accident, one that kills his twin. But when he doesn’t see God or the light or angels during his near-death experience, he finds himself kind of lost and questioning, which doesn’t go over well with his family or the church.

What should I have asked you but didn’t?

Hmm. Not sure but I think the answer is 42. (I will give away a book to the first person who comes up to me and tells me the source for that reference.)

You can read more about Stacey and her books at her website.

Amazon links to Stacey’s books:

51zlm4ThPsL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ thehunt-100x150@2xthetrials-250x375theghostandthegothqueen-of-the-dead-stacey-kadebody-soul-stacey-kade

Happy Reading!



Copyright in Education

Copyright can be tricky for teachers.  We know that the usual rules don’t apply, but what are the rules that do?  In the sage words of one of my favorite professors at NIU, Rebecca Butler, “It depends.”  What’s more, the internet has made the world of copyright a lot more gray.  Intellectual property is easy to access and use, whether legally or not.

I found this great flow chart on Tech and Learning’s website.  If you don’t already know, you can find them at – and they publish a print magazine for FREE.  It’s really good.

Hope this helps!


Get More Out of Google

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


Read Aloud Round-Up: The 10 Books I Suggest Most for Middle School Read Alouds

It is perhaps one of the most gratifying parts of my job: when a teacher comes into the library, practically jumping up and down because their read aloud is going so well- and I was the one to suggest the book they are reading.

I have a few qualifications for a good read aloud.

First, it can’t be very long.  I have ADD.  And I’m a fast reader.  If a book runs too long, I will abandon it half way through and leave the kids hanging.  That’s not good.

Second, it needs to be suspenseful.  Every chapter should offer some action or important information.

Third, it can’t have too much detail.  That gets real boring real fast.  I understand that detail is great when you are reading to yourself, but for a read aloud? No.

These are the tried-and-true titles.  The ones that multiple teachers have used multiple times and have always found them to work.

1. The Compound by S.A. Bodeen


2. Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann


3. Juvie Three by Gordon Korman


4. Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs


5. How They Croaked by Georgia Bragg and Kevin O’Malley


6. The Shadow Club by Neal Shusterman


7. Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman


8. Read All About It by Jim Trelease (this one was especially good for my Read-Aloud ADD)


9. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (some classics never get old)


10. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

when-you-reach-meIf you decide to do any of these, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  As a matter of fact, I think you’ll love them!



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!