Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Sunday Reflections: 7 Ways Teens Are Like Cats (by Heather Booth)

One of my friends, a cat owner and dog appreciator, is also a children’s librarian.  Years ago, as I was lamenting about a lukewarm at best teen event, wishing I got some of the love and affection she so readily got from her younger patrons, she told me this:

Little kids love you like dogs do.  They run to greet you and their whole body shakes with excitement when you look them in the eye and sing the right song.  Teenagers, on the other hand, are more like cats.  They may look at you sideways, get up, and leave the room as soon as you walk in, but sooner or later they’ll sidle up to you and their contented purr will tell you all you need to know: they love you, but they don’t really want you to know it, and they’re just not going to make a big deal out of it or anything.

This can make them (cats and teens) an acquired taste.  I get it.  I’m not by and large a cat person myself, but I have come to appreciate individual cats on a case by case basis.  For some folks, even for some teen librarians, teens are like that.  Saying “I like teens” isn’t the same as saying, “I like working with teens.”  But even if they’re not your thing, you’ve got to admit that they’re intriguing!  And maybe it’s that mystique, that intrigue, that keeps us working with teens… and seemingly fascinated by cats.

So, here are 6 more ways teens are like cats.

6. They’re always going through some stuff – it only makes sense that they’re conflicted sometimes.  Don’t take it personally.

5. We don’t always understand why they do what they do, but it is clear that there is some purpose.

4. If you’re faking it, or trying to be someone you’re not, they can see right through you.

3. It’s true.  In large groups, they can be kind of intimidating until you remember who they actually are.

2. They need guidance and supervision.  They’re risk takers and can be overly confident in their abilities.

1. They will surprise you, so check your assumptions.
Also, in honor of the recent Shark Week, if they were small enough, teens would totally do this:

Geek is the New Black: Meme the Apps (Using iPhone apps and your photos to create memes, I rate the apps)

“How do you make your graphics?”  I get asked that question a lot.  The truth is, I use a variety of tools, including PowerPoint (for a quick image), Publisher (for posters) and sometimes GIMP (I am still not very good with this program and don’t know how to do text in it).  But you would be surprised to know how much of it I actually do on my smart phone.  It is, after all, a mini computer.  I have shared some of my favorite apps before, but today we are going to talk about apps to create Memes.  I have used these 5 apps to create memes at one time or another and here’s what I think. As Lake Library System just tweeted, “It’s Appy Hour”!

After trying several, this is the one that I prefer when I am looking to do a quick photo edit and add a simple line of text.  You can easily spin the edit wheel to change your font style, crop your picture and more.  There are not the filters that you get on Instaquote (see below), but you can tint and change the opacity of your picture.  If you are looking for quick and easy, this is a good choice. Cost: $1.99. 4 out of 5 stars and highly recommended if you are looking for quick, easy and block quotes.

Instaquote Pro
Is a Free+ app, which means some basic components of it are available for free and then you have to pay for additional features, which include backgrounds, etc.  In this case, the pictures also have a watermark unless you pay a basic fee, and nobody wants a watermark that says “Instaquote” on their pictures.  So I bought the upgrade to see what it could do.

The biggest plus is that ff you don’t want to use one of your photos, you can purchase various background packages to create cool memes.  Which, of course, is its own minus as well because it involves more fees.  You can pretty easily change fonts and font colors.  As with a lot of the apps here, you only get one text window which means you get one block quote. But it does allow you to change the color of words within a line of text so that is a bonus.  Cost: $2.99  3 out of 5 stars, great when you want a background that is not a picture you have taken (but it will cost you more).

 Made with one of the backgrounds provided in the app

Title Fx
The advantage of Title FX is that it has way more fonts (50 compared to Overs 25) and it lets you add effects like shadows and glow (you can also do this to a lesser extent in Instaquote by changing the text style).  I spent the least amount of time with this app, but you get a lot more options with number of text lines, variations in text, and the placement on the photo. So if ultimate creativity is your goal, this is a good app for you. Cost: $1.99.  Still trying to decide, around 3 stars.  It doesn’t really do anything that you can’t do in TypoInsta.

Photo in Word Pro
Some of the best signs I have ever created have been done by taking my title text and making it out of a photo.  I just found and downloaded this app and haven’t had a lot of time to play with it, but it creates some cool looking images.  I am not, however, a fan of the save feature; you save it to a WordPhoto library and then have to save it to your phone library.  For me, I would have to further manipulate the images created in another app to create a final product that I was happy with.  I like the effect it can create, but wish you could just use the text as a .png as opposed to a whole picture.  Cost: $0.99.  2 out of 5 stars, not my fave.

I had to crop this photo in PowerPoint to make it look how I wanted

Has the most diversity of all the apps here.  You can add multiple lines of text and freely manipulate them individually.  In addition. TypoInsta has its own filters and frames, so you can get the look of Instagram with text over it.  If you are looking to create Instagram type pictures with text, this is your best option, which is not surprising because it is part of the Instagram family.  The one thing I don’t like is that it is really touchy and easy to accidentally move an item while trying to manipulate something else.  All of THESE memes were made using TypoInsta, it is the app I have been using the longest.  4.5 out of 5 stars, highly recommended.

Remember the key to making good photo memes on your phone is that you first have to take good photos! 

In all of the apps you can take the photo right there or import a photo from your photo album.  So you can use other photo apps to create the best looking photos and then import them if you would like.  I am a HUGE fan of Instagram, but also like Comic Book for some projects.  And if you are a Instagram user, you might also want to try Hipstamatic, although there is a lot of additional cost involved.  I am not kidding when I say that there are more than 60,000 pictures downloaded on my computer (I had to buy an external harddrive) and over 6,000 pictures on my phone.  Mostly of Thing 1 and Thing 2 of course, but also of events and the various things I see that I think, “hmmm, I could make a meme of that.”  So there you have it, get snapping and get creative.

What are your favorite apps?  Tell us what and why in the comments.

TPIB: Meme ALL the Shirts! (Heather Booth)

Though I’m no technophobe, I’m not what you would call an early adopter. So involving technology in my teen programing isn’t always (ever?) the first thing that springs to mind when I sit down to plan my next session. This TPIB is for people like me, who want to bring some of the basic STEM elements into their teen programs, but aren’t sure where to start and have a core group of teens who enjoy a hands-on project. It works with a wide range of ages and interest, and is equally great with guys or girls.

Cost: Approximately $1/person if teens bring their own shirts, Approximately $5/person if the library supplies them

Time: 30 minutes minimum

Consumable Supplies:
Iron-on Transfer Paper for Inkjet Printers (Available at craft or computer stores, and currently on sale at www.dharmatrading.com in fun styles. We used the glitter variety for extra fun!)
T-shirts (Hobby Lobby offers clothing blanks at very reasonable prices. The plain white Ts I supplied were $4 each)

Reusable Supplies:
Computer and Internet access
Inkjet Printer
Pillowcase or towel

The short story:
Memes can be easily created by using a number of online meme generator sites. These images can then be reversed using simple photo editing software, then printed onto inkjet transfer paper and ironed on to t-shirts.

The details:
Whether or not you’ve made them or used them, chances are you’ve seen them. The prevalence of easy online meme creators like www.memegenerator.net and the Keep Calm-o-matic www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk, makes it easy enough for even very young teens to find and modify popular memes, or upload their own photos and manipulate them. We all know that teens are not just consumers of technology and digital culture, but creators and curators as well. This is one way to foster this in a lighthearted manner. You can give teens some suggestions of memes to consider using in case they are new to the game or just needed a starting place. Given the snarky nature of much meme culture, I pointed them toward some that generally yield fairly “parent friendly” results:

All The Things: http://memegenerator.net/all-the-things
Keep Calm: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/
I can haz cat: http://memegenerator.net/I-Can-Haz
Condescending Willy Wonka: http://memegenerator.net/Willywonka
Success Kid: http://www.quickmeme.com/Success-Kid/
Conspiracy Keanu: http://memegenerator.net/Conspiracy-Keanu
Y U No: http://memegenerator.net/Y-U-No
First World Problems: http://www.quickmeme.com/First-World-Problems/

I gave my teens the initial caution that their parents were going to ask to see what they made at the library, and that I wouldn’t print anything with curse words, anything that was derogatory, or any personal attacks and then let them have at it. My library doesn’t have a computer lab, but we do have two laptops, which I set up in the meeting room. I also brought in any and all laptops I could borrow for the day. Macs are especially helpful here, since a Guest Account can be easily created, protecting the content on the owner’s machine. With six computers and thirteen participants, the teens worked with friends and sat together, which was great – it’s how they usually use our computers, and it contributed to an atmosphere of helpfulness and collaboration.

The trick to printing transfer images is that the image needs to be reversed as a mirror image in order for it to read correctly on the t-shirt. I created step-by-step directions for how to save an image and then manipulate it and save it again, both for Mac and PC (we had both in the room). Some teens were able to do this without any trouble at all; others needed some help. The beauty of this phase was that a lot of the help they got was from one another!

Then the logjam occurred. We had only one printer, and boy was it working hard to crank out those ink-laden images. During this down-time, some teens browsed for books, others hung out in the room and dished about One Direction, and some continued creating more memes and compiling images into their own unique t-shirt designs. The ironing was simple, and with two stations, this part went much quicker.

By the end of the evening as the teens finished up and went on their way, we’d used all of the transfer paper, made several extra shirts, and thanks to the casual nature of the program in its final hour (what was slotted for 1.5 hours lasted 3 for some eager t-shirt designers!), I had the go-ahead to do a duplicate of this program, a few other program ideas, and what just might be a new core Teen Library Advisory Board.

We used memes as a starting point for creativity, but you could begin anywhere – and your teens certainly will take you there if you let them.

Some ideas:
Host a wearable photo contest
Create “Who I Am” word clouds (Wordle, Tagxedo)
Use the wearable art to promote a ballot initiative or in conjunction with a library fundraiser
Use glow-in-the-dark transfers to liven up a night program or lock-in
Incorporate the covers of favorite books for a peer booktalking or “ask me about” program
Tie it into a book themed movie release party – see the Hunger Game examples in the links above for ideas

Heather Booth is a regular TLT contributor and she talks about this program at The Doings Western Springs.  You can see Darren McRoy of the Western Springs Patch talk about the program here.

Karen would like to add, this is another great way to get teens involved in the Teen Read Week Art Contest: It Came from a Book.  They could make memes, t-shirts or even memeshirts!

How might you do this program at your library? Please share in the comments!