Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

TPiB: Jump in head first and start a coding club


Sometimes we talk about things we didn’t learn in library school.  The point of that occasional series is to illustrate that a lot of our librarian skills are learned on the job, and to acknowledge that the scope of what we do is wide and ever-changing.  Before I get going on how I jumped in head first and started a coding club at my library here’s a list of stuff I never learned in library school:

  • the word “makerspace”
  • anything about computer games
  • Javascript
  • what an IDE is
But here’s what I knew:

So I jumped in, and I think you can too.

With a little guidance in the Codecademy forums, I set up an every other week schedule and hoped that kids would come.  I started out our first session by explaining that I wasn’t an expert; I’d be learning along with them, and that I fully expected that some of them would learn faster than me and be ready to help their peers by the end of the year.  They seemed excited about it, and so we dove in together.

Each session, I started out by introducing something small: a video of people talking about how they got into code, or a site that showed how CSS worked, or a cool application for Javascript.  Then we would work on the Codecademy tutorials at our own pace.  Very quickly I learned that they weren’t really interested in HTML or CSS, rather they wanted to focus on Javascript so that they could write code that people could interact with.  So I listened to them and we skipped ahead to Javascript.  As long as I worked a few modules ahead of them, I could do a decent job of answering their questions.  Another tip: if you have a friend, colleague, or family member who will be at a computer during your coding club times, they may be able to field questions via gchat.

A few months in, I could tell that the work at your own pace technique was great for some things.  New members to the club could jump right in at their own level and could join at any time.  But it wasn’t so great for other things.  The biggest problem was that just learning code wasn’t enough to make the kids feel united together as a club.  So we shifted gears again.

From the Guardian Article below on the Coding Tumblr
Guardian Article: There is a fun Tumblr that looks at the coding in tv and movies and determines if it is real code or gobbleygook.  Image from the Guardian article.

Now, we’re working together to build an interactive, choose your own adventure style game, using Cloud9 IDE as a platform for working together and sharing our code.  This shift brought a whole new set of elements into our club meetings.  We talked about plot and strategy, and suddenly rather than just wondering how to fix the code that they were working through, they were wondering if they could learn to code entirely new types of things, how video works, and whether they could use their artistic skills to design images for the game.

My goal for them was to have a basic game up and running by Teen Tech Week so that we could put it up on the library’s website and encourage people to play it and give feedback.  It may or may not get there in time, but even if it does, that won’t be the marker of a successful club.  Here’s how I know it already is successful:

  • I have repeat attendees
  • They are bringing their friends
  • They CALL ME when they aren’t going to make it
  • They have a great time when they’re here
  • They want to learn more and do more
  • I do too
Coding Tools:

Code Academy

Article at Librarified
Lego: We Do ($200.00) – YouTube
Beyond Legos: Coding for Kids
7 Apps for Teaching Coding Skills
Teaching Teens about Digital Literacy Through Coding
Camp for Code: Library program teaches teens basics of programming, robotics
Lifehacker: Learn to Code, the full beginners guide
EdSurge: Teaching Kids to Code
Coding Books on Amazon

Teens, Tech and Programming

Earlier today, I presented a Webinar on Teens, Tech and Programming. Like you, I am in the process of putting together not only my Teen Tech Week programming, but in general I have been exploring how I can better incorporate technology into my programming.  So I went a little crazy with the research.  So here are various ideas for incorporating technology into both hands on (active) and self-directed (passive) programming with teens in libraries, including ways to use social media and apps.  Also, check out this cool Pinterest board of STEM projects for Teen Summer Reading 2014 from Jennifer Rummel over at YA Book Nerd.

TPiB: Teen Tech Week on a Shoe String

Teen Tech Week is March 9-15 and it is coming up FAST! The theme for this year is DIY @ Your Library and you can uptech it or downtech it as you see fit, so it’s extremely versatile as themes go if you want to run with the theme (unlike Check In @ Your Library, where all mine where stuck on Foursquare or some of the other themes).

Already we here at Teen Librarian Toolbox are planning summer reading challenges/clubs/programming, or are in the middle of testing in the schools, and trying to figure out additional programs and special events for Teen Tech Week can just stress anyone out. Add in the fact that (for us at least) it occurs during the spring break for the majority of the school districts we work with (which means teens and staff are going to have plans with their families), and it gets to be overwhelming!

Never fear! You can still offer exciting things with a minimum of stress and staff work and have amazing outcomes and interactions with your tweens and teens. It just takes some footwork now and a smidge of planning.

    Make sure you know what the schedule/time off request calendar looks like for that week. If the majority of your staff (or the staff of the building) is going to be off during that time, and your manager is counting on you to take up the slack, you’re going to have to be planning more self-directed programming than staff-directed programming. It’s a good idea to sit down with your manager or supervisor (depending on your library’s hierarchy) so that you know what’s going on around you and they know what you’re thinking about producing. You don’t want to put tons of effort into a huge week-long program only to be told you’re on reference desk for most of the day. 

    Talk with your teens. Even if you don’t have a teen advisory board, talk to your regulars and see what they want and what their plans are. It may be that the majority of your teens are going out of town for the week because their family is going to see Great Auntie Margorie in Palooskie. Who knows. It may be that they’re all here and stuck because no one has money or a car; which means you can turn the library in to THE spot for all the tweens and teens to be during Spring Break. Ask them what programs they like, what programs they’d like to see, and what they would LOVE to see in the library if there were no barriers- Teen Tech Week can be the perfect time to dust off the cobwebs of some of the programs that you have been doing and launch some new ones.

    Take inventory of what you have and what’s worked well. If movie programs have been OK but they love the idea of mocking movies, run with it- start your own Mystery Science Theater Feature with a marathon showcasing a different type of tech each night (show The Avengers or Thor: The Dark World for alien tech, Red 2 or White House Down for assassin tech, a Fast and Furious marathon for automotive tech) and not only mock it but show how that tech could actually work. If you’ve been having duct tape sessions, turn them into tech session by showing how they can work to patch things in the real world, and have a contest for the most innovative use of duct tape- find a pond and have them actually make small boats, the one who can make theirs last the longest wins, for example.
    Take advantage of self-directed programming. Have a QR scavenger hunt or even a character scavenger hunt around the library, and give out passes for extra computer time, or a waiver of $2-3 for fines. Take a display frame and pour in popped off keyboard keys scavenged from killed keyboards, and have a contest to guess the amount of keys in the frame- the closest the the right amount wins a huge candy bar. Have a caption the Meme contest, and put up a “clean meme” for them to caption, and have the library director or the branch manager vote for the best three.

    Have a retro gaming program. Reserve the programming room or just a couple of tables in the back of the library, pull out Monopoly, Uno, and a couple of other board games (Life and Sorry are big with my kids) or  Legos and sit and play with them and just talk. Make up house rules that wouldn’t normally be in the game relating to anything high tech (first that looks at their phone has to give everyone playing $10, etc.)  and have a wonderful afternoon of “low tech” gaming.

    Have a BYOC afternoon- bring your own craft afternoon program. Take an afternoon sometime during the week, and have everyone bring something that they’ve been working on, or want to learn. I want to learn Rainbow Loom bracelets but I know cross-stitching, beading, and crochet. I can bring my stuff from home, someone else can create with the duct tape, someone can create with beads, someone can bring their rainbow loom, and while we watch a movie or listen to music, we can craft and create and have a wonderful afternoon just being.

      What are you doing for Teen Tech Week? Share in the comments!

      From a Librarian in the Trenches: Thoughts on Themes (a guest post by Jennifer Wills)

      I came into this Teen Librarian position all “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” about pretty much everything.  I was revved up by library school classes that stressed the importance of Programming For Teens and introduced me to the high holy days:  Teen Read Week, Teen Tech Week, and the Summer Reading Program.  Teen Read Week?  Awesome!  “Books with Beat?”  Um . . . Sure!  Let’s do this!  I will take a poster in every size and as many bookmarks as you can spare, thanks.  I threw myself into displays and contests and school visits and everything short of a stage show.  

      But as that first year progressed through Teen Tech Week (Learn Create Share @ Your Library) to the summer reading program (Make Waves @ Your Library) I began to notice that any time I invoked one of the provided themes for these special weeks, there was a definite shift in the conversation I was having with the teens.  They would be right with me as we talked about summer reading and prizes and such, but the second I mentioned the theme there was a subtle (or sometimes not-so-subtle) cringe, or smirk, or glaze of the eyes as if to say, “I see you are trying to market to me, Adult Person.  And you are doing it wrong.”  The focus of the conversation immediately changed from the library and how we are relevant to their lives to an explanation of how the theme was relevant to the event.  
      Flash forward three years.  I’m a bit more settled in my job and I’ve discovered the secret that many of you know but no one mentioned in any of my grad school classes on programming for teens or advocating for teens or teen literature, and it is this:  getting to know and genuinely connecting with teens is the BEST PART OF THE JOB and absolutely essential for getting teens excited about libraries.  Knowing that means now I’m the one who cringes as each new theme is announced.  For instance, take this recent exchange:
      Awesome Teen: {picks up Summer Reading Program entry form} What’s this?
      Me:  That’s the entry form for our Teen Summer Reading Program.
      AT:  Why does it say “Beneath the Surface?”
      Me:  That’s just the theme this year.  But see, it says “Teen Summer Reading Program” there at the top.  {Proceed to tell him all about the program.}
      AT:  But . . .
      Me:  Yeah?
      AT:  If the theme is Beneath the Surface, why does it have a Pegasus on it?
      I feel like I’ve had this conversation at least ten times a day since summer reading outreach began in May.  There’s about five seconds of connection about how great summer reading is and five minutes of “What does this mean?”
      I promise that I’m not here to bash YALSA or CSLP for their choice of themes.  I know there are exceptional librarians out there who take the themes and run with them in amazing ways every year (I’m looking at you, Karen!) I also know that for those libraries that don’t have a Teen Services department or dedicated teen librarian, the special interest weeks and themes offer a chance to focus on and connect with teens.  And I absolutely know that none of us are legally obligated to use these themes and that many of you have developed amazing stand-alone programs without them.   That said, I really think that by diving in to themes we lose a lot of what’s most important about our jobs.
      I’ve been lucky enough to assemble a robust and opinionated Teen Advisory Board over the past few years and each special interest week or SRP leads to a lengthy discussion of the theme.  They tolerated “You are Here” for an SRP theme a couple of years ago and “Geek Out @ Your Library” for Teen Tech Week was met with stoic skepticism, but things came to a head last summer when I thought “Own the Night” might just be the end of them (“That’s a prom, not a reading program,” was probably my favorite reaction.)  And then “Beneath the Surface” arrived.  There was literally a two-hour meeting where the poster was deconstructed in a way that I’m pretty sure could be counted as their thesis project for grad school:  “Jen, there’s a creepy face in the shrub.  What is the purpose of this?” (It’s true, by the way, take a look.) “Jen, there is absolutely no correlation between this theme and reading books to win prizes.”   
      About an hour into the meeting, as my teens talked about taking to the streets to ask random people what they thought the “Beneath the Surface” poster was advertising, I found myself looking around the table and thinking that this will definitely be the last year I use stock themes for anything.  From now on I’ll celebrate Reading for the Fun of It for Teen Read Week and Connecting @ Your Library for Teen Tech Week.   Those are the kind of general themes that say exactly what we’re trying to accomplish.  And I’ll use my TAB’s awesome passion for coming up with a better slogan for our SRP that we can use for several years.

      My eyes are still clear, my heart is still full, and I know I can’t lose if I continue to just be my goofy self in a genuine way with these guys, learning what they love and telling them about the awesome ways our library can fit into their lives.

      Jen Scott Wills, MLS
      I’ve served as the Teen Services Librarian for Boise Public Library’s Main Library for the past three years, though I’ve been addicted to libraries since I lived across the street from one as a kid. My teens always ask me if I actually get paid to do what I do (usually when we’re in the middle of some water balloon war or heated Mario Kart race) and I tell them yes and that I can’t believe it either. I’m obsessed with YA lit and read a little bit of everything, though David Levithan and Rainbow Rowell are definitely my spirit animals. You can find me at jen1nsw.tumblr.com or as jen1n on Twitter or in my office that the teens call my TARDIS. Because it’s bigger on the inside.

      TPiB: Instagram crafts

      Every Friday in March we’re sharing crafts with our favorite website, The Library as Incubator Project.  Check their site out for awesome ways to incorporate art into your library and programming.  This week, I am sharing with you some of my favorite things to do with Instagram pictures.
      Instagram is perhaps one of the hottest tech (social media) tools being used right now.  If you aren’t familiar with it (are there people who aren’t?), it is a photo app for a smart phone that let’s you take and manipulate pictures quickly and beautifully and then easily share them online.  I love Instagram pictures hard core, take dozens or more a day, and use them a lot right here on this blog.  I am always trying to find new ways to use them and have found a variety of enchanting crafts that you can incorporate them into.
      For example, you can Mod Podge them onto anything, including a canvas to create stunning artwork for your walls.  Coasters, book covers, votive candles – I am not kidding, you can use them to decorate literally anything.  There is an entire blog dedicated to Mod Podge, so check it out.

      If you get really ambitious, you can try and do this photo transfer craft that I found at A Beautiful Mess. I was possibly less successful at it then they were.

      Quick Tip: Instagram is not the only awesome app out there.  You can use TypoInsta to add text, WordFoto to make your picture into a word photo, and FilterMania 2 has a ton of easy overlays (frames) that you can use.  You can run your picture through several different apps to maximize creativity.  Here is a look at some of my personal favorites. 

      You can also create a variety of unique mini-scrapbooks that capitalize on the tiny size of Instagram photos.  (If you have ever tried to print them you know that a standard photo printing lab can not in fact print them because they are smaller than 4×6 and they don’t format correctly).

      Today, I am sharing with you my favorite mini-scrapbook which presents itself as the perfect gift to share with others.  You can make a mother’s day present, father’s day, or a graduation gift for your best friend filled with photos of your life together.  And if you size it right, they are fun and easy to fill with your favorite Instagram pictures.  You can import your Instagram pictures into a program like Microsoft Publisher, size them and then print them on regular copy paper for this project.

      This project is a modified verions of THIS craft.  If any of the instructions get confusing, you check out the inspirational post at Scrap ‘N Frames.com. 

      Supplies Needed:
      Empty cereal box (for your top and bottom cover)
      Plain card stock paper, 12 x 12 (I prefer black)
      Duct Tape
      Stickers and other embellishments
      Several – like 10 or more – Instagram prints size 4×4 

      This is what we are making, a mini scrapbook that folds up like an accordion to fill with your favorite Instagram pics.

      Step 1: Creating Your Cover

      Cut your empty box into two equal size squares, 4 1/2 by 4 1/2.

      Other instructions tell you to cut and cover your squares with wrapping or scrapbook paper, but I am here to tell you how to make it easier on yourself: Duct Tape! That’s right, cover both sides of each square with duct tape. Simple, fast, easy – and totally cool. And they have so many cool designs and colors now that you can’t go wrong.

      To create a closure for your book, Duct tape one piece of ribbon onto the underside of 1 of your covers.  You will use this at the end to wrap around your book and tie it shut.  It makes it look like a mini gift.

      Note: You can also cover your scrapbook cover with scrapbook or wrapping paper if you don’t want to use Duct tape.

      Quick Tip: Duct Tape totally does horrible things to your scissors, so have Goo Gone nearby to keep them sharp and clean. Clean scissors make happy cuts, gooey scissors make angry cuts.

      Step 2: Folding Your Pages

      First, you need to turn your 12 by 12 paper into 8 by 8 sized paper.
      You want to make sure your paper is cut down to 8 by 8 size, there will be a little bit of trimming involved.  To make straight lines, a paper cutter can be your best friend. But you can also just use the edge of a metal ruler if you are careful.

      Now comes the tricky bit, folding your paper.  Basically, if you make these 3 simple folds you create the lines necessary to fold your paper. 

      Next, you need to fold your sheet into the accordion format.  There are really great instructions for that here.  Basically, you fold your paper like this:

      Fold your first sheet of paper in half.

        Open your paper, rotate 90 degrees and fold in half again.

        Open your paper and flip it over.

      Fold your paper from corner to corner to make a triangle.

      Repeat folds with the second sheet of paper.

      The two papers should now fold into a smaller square.

      One square can be inserted into the other square and glue to create an accordion folding  square.

      Glue two sheets together by placing them as pictured above.  You can make your mini scrapbook as big as you would like by adding additional pages.

      When you are done, they will all fold together accordion style into one neat square like this:

      Step 3: Attaching the Covers

      Because your covers have Duct tape, you’ll want to use a stapler and staple a cover to to each side of your folded sheets, making sure you only use the top sheet of each end so your book will open properly.  Simply use a piece of Duct tape to cover the staples on the outside of your cover.  In traditional accordion scrapbooks you glues the cover onto the sheets, but Duct tape will prevent this from working properly.

      Step 4: Filling the Pages

      You can import your Instagram pictures into a program like Microsoft Publisher and size them correctly for your scrapbook.  You’ll want them to be 4×4 in size to fit inside.  After correctly sizing the pics, simply print on regular paper in color and you are ready to complete your album.

      Get creative with it! Add stickers, captions, lettering and more to make it unique and pop.

      Doing this as a library program:
      To make it an easy library program, set up stations and precut some of the pieces.
      Station 1: Make your cover.  Have a table with precut squares, scissors and duct tape.
      Station 2: Fold the insides. Have a variety of card stock available.
      Station 3: Give it guts. Stickers, etc.
      Station 4: Printing station. You will need to help teens import and print their photos. Have a laptop ready to go. 

      Some other things you can do with Instagram pictures
      Girl on a Board ideas
      A variety of other types of mini scrapbooks
      TPiB: Turn your Instagram photos into photobooth bookmarks 
      More iPhone Apps to make awesome pics 

      Teen Tech Week: More Than Just a Game

      If you were to ask me to make a list of my Top 10 books, one of the books on that list would be Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.  I know that a lot of people are not fans of Card the author because of some of the statements he has made in the press (there is an overview of that discussion at Salon.com last week), but I am a fan of some of this book.  Ender’s Game has never let me down as a go to rec for male and female readers alike who are looking for some fast paced science fiction with a touch of heart.  And it is definitely a great read for Teen Tech Week.  But Ender’s Game is not the only book out there about video gaming gone bad.

      Take 5: More Than Just a Game
      What happens when you can’t get out of the game?

      Erebos by Ursula Pozananski
      Some games won’t let you stop playing, so it is better not to even start.  Unfortunately for 16-year-old Nick, he didn’t take that advice and now he is sucked in to an online game that appears to know things about him, almost like the game is watching him.  Fast paced, thriller and right on target for today’s gaming teens, a must read.
      Insignia by S. J. Kincaid
      Like Ender’s Game, Insignia is the story of a war fought by video games and technology, except here the teens involved absolutely know they are soldiers.  But there are some things they don’t know, and those things matter.  Tom wanders from casino to casino with his dad winning just enough to survive on virtual games when he is recruited to the cause. 
      Brain Jack by Brain Faulkner
      Vegas is destroyed, gone in a terrorist attack.  And the drug of choice is an online game.  Sam Wilson will do anything for a headset and to get him into the game, but once he is in he might wish he had never entered.  Once you enter in, your mind is linked to the system.
      Doomed by Tracy Deebs
      Beat the game, save the world.  Pandora receives a link to an online game where she releases a global virus that plunges the world into a panic never seen before.  The only way to restore the world as we know it is to beat the game.

      BZRK by Michael Grant
      I mentioned it in an earlier TTW post, but BZRK falls into this category as well. Also, it is the start of a new series that should prove to be really popular combining video games, nano-technology and evil geniuses trying to take over the world through politics.  What is not to love?

      Take 5: Teen Tech Reads (Karen’s picks)

      This week is Teen Tech Week! So we’ll be sharing some of our favorite tech reads, tech resources and more. Please share your favorites in the comments, we love to hear what others are reading, doing and thinking.

      Here are 5 of my favorite tech reads. Okay, it is technically six because I include both books in this companion series.  Others are simply the first in a newly developed series.

       Take 5: Teen Tech Reads

      BZRK by Michael Grant
      Nanotechnology runs amuck. Resistance is futile as competing factions race to utlize nano technology in ways that can enslave the human race.

      Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow
      Doctorow presents an eerily too possible vision of the future where your access to the Internet is taken away if you violate copyright laws.

      Starters by Lissa Price
      In the future, the Enders can rent your body in an attempt to try and resist aging. 

      Human.4 and The Future We Left Behind by Michael Lancaster
      What if we were simply a large scale computer program being used by a more advanced race? And what if you didn’t make the upgrade?

      Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch
      Hirsch combines the best of Science Fiction and Fantasy in this world that is divided by a rift. One side is tech, the other is magic. 

      Please share your favorite tech reads in the comments. I love finding new books to read. Also, if you have read any of my faves, please tell me what YOU think of them.

      Top 10: Books for the Geek in Us All

      The second week in March is reserved for Teen Tech Week in teen services everywhere.  Sponsored by YALSA we take the whole week to celebrate the formats of tech in the library- databases and online help, text reference, ebooks, movies and much more!  Yet, there is no reason why we can’t celebrate Teen Tech Week with some sensational hard copies, either!  Below, find 10 (in one base, not binary) books that celebrate this year’s theme while enticing teen readers….

      15 short stories from some of the most amazing and geeky authors today
      4th in the Uglies series, Extras debates the questions about what happens when you’re too popular….    Optioned by Fox.

      When their AOL in the 80’s shows them their Facebook future, can they change it? Or do they want to? Optioned for the big screen by Warner Brothers

      Sequel to Little Brother, Marcus is back, and having to chose between  his dream job and continuing the rebellion he started.

      True story of Kevin Mitnick, hacking his way through companies and keeping one step ahead of the authorities.  

      Sent by his parents to summer camp in order to ‘normalize’ him from his  RPG world, Perry instead finds the creators of his game, and will need all his skills (both gaming and social) in order to save the princess in this game.

      Very (Veronica) is addicted to tech- can’t live without her iPod, IM, texts, comp time….  But when she’s forced to go to tech rehab, can she figure out her life before it’s too late?

      Always trusting Society to control everything, Cassia is perfectly content with her match- until a second face appears for a brief second.  Can she regain her trust with Society, or will she forge a new and dangerous path?  Trilogy optioned by Disney.

      Drawing upon actual interviews with the hackers of Anonymous and LulzSec, this tells the tales of the most  organized and secretive hacker group so far. 

      In 2044, Wade escapes reality by burying himself in videogames, and trying to discover the Ticket that will give one person unlimited money and power- if you can unlock the puzzle.  Optioned for the big screen by Warner Brothers.

      TTW: Pop goes the information, everything you wanted to know about pop culture

      Did you hear – Justin and Selena broke up?  Sound the alarm! This is just one bit of recent pop culture news that you needed to know about.  Not because you care, but because you work with teens and let’s face it – some of them care.  I know who One Direction are, who Rob and Big is, and more.  Some of it I even care about.  Some of it I just know enough to be able to acknowledge its existence in the life of my teens.

      At the same time, the number of magazines in my teen area are dwindling, going out of publication.  (I still miss you Sassy magazine!)  More and more teens are getting all their information online.  To be honest, I do, too.  So here are some of my favorite sties to help me serve my teens.  Please share yours in the comments.

      A part of Entertainment Weekly online, this is hands down my favorite pop culture blog.  Sometimes they focus heavily on certain trends (don’t go there right now if you don’t like Twilight).  It doesn’t focus on teen content exclusively, but they get plenty of attention there.  Check out the right side bar for picture slideshows.  And do remember to click on there Shelf Life feature as it features a lot of YA.

      Just Jared, Jr.
      Yes, there is a Just Jared Sr. Although it doesn’t call itself that, it’s simply Just Jared.  Just Jared Jr. focuses on young hollywood celebrity news.  Be sure to check out their partners by scrolling down to the bottom of the page.  They team up with other pop culture websites like Cambio, Wetpaint, PopCrush, and TooFab.com.

      Want to know what teens care about pop culture wise? Teen.com is a great resource.  And here is my tip, scroll down the the bottom where they have links for a slew of similar websites.  Even just glancing at the headlines will give you a heads up about what your tweens and teens are thinking about.

      Bop and Tiger Beat
      I spent a ton of years skipping lunches so I could spend my lunch money buying the newest issue of Bop and Tiger Beat, but now you can just visit them online.  Think of all the hunger I could have avoided.  You can still subscribe to the actual magazines if you want to rip the posters out and decorate your wall.  What, you totally know you did that.  Keep in mind that most of your in-house teen magazines have a pretty well developed online counterpoint, and they often have great quizzes and such to share with your tweens and teens.

      Mashable is a great way to keep up on all things tech related.  And as a bonus, they share things like25 Clever Twitter Keyboard Shortcuts and those funny memes that are great for passing along to your teens via your social media.

      Alloy entertainment
      Alloy was really popular for a while selling clothing.  Then they moved into publishing books.  Over the years they have built a very extensive online community.  They have fun quizzes (you know what I am going to say – great to share on your social media sites), celebrity news, and more.

      Coming soon.net
      Get announcements on movie rights that have just been purchased, see on set pictures, and get a first look at trailers.  This is great information to share with your teens on your varous social media pages.  Also check out Variety online, Vanity Fair online, and Zap2It

      Aint It Cool News
      This is geek news in all of its glorious geekery – we’re talking sci fi, fantasy, and comic book goodness.

      They may not show videos any more (a brief moment of silence), but they are still connecting with teens.  They have a variety of shows that teens love, including Ackward and (shudder) Jersey Shore (which is coming to an end).  They also have some fascinating news shows including True Life, which shows teens and young adults living a variety of interesting lives.  Even if you don’t watch the shows, check out their webpage occassionally and get the 411 on teen life.

      Rookie began as an online blog of a teen, and now that teen – Tavi Gevison – is considered a fashion expert, or so they told me on a recent episode of Project Runway where she was a guest judge. Rookie is a very cool online zine created by a teen, I think she is still a teen, and if you aren’t reading it, you should be.

      Bonus Site: Ypulse.com
      Ypulse is not a pop culture site, but it is a tremendously useful site that looks at trends among the Ygeneration and talks about marketing to them. I highly recommend it.

      TPiB: TTW13- Check In at the Library

      I don’t know why Teen Tech Week always sneaks up on me.  Maybe because March is always when summer reading planning seems to be at it’s fullest.  Or maybe because it always seems to fall during my school systems’ spring breaks. Or it’s because I’m waiting for spring.  Who knows.  All I know is I’m always scrambling to find easy programs to do because I’m short on staff and my brain is shot. The YALSA NING for TTW has some awesome ideas for this year’s theme, Check in @ The Library, and you should definitely check them out.  However, if they seem to ambitious, try some of mine.  And if you’re doing something for Teen Tech Week, share what you’re doing in the comments!


      These movies break the way to some excellent discussion topics with teens, and a lot of them are topics that need to be discussed- from privacy settings to what image you’re projecting to making sure they’re being safe online, you can create discussion guides to hand out beforehand to get your teens thinking, and start the discussion afterwards.

      CATFISH- the documentary that started the TV show. Talk about how to tell if how you’re talking to is really who you think they are, and what your profile says about you.

      HACKERS- aside from showing a young Sherlock from NBC and a young Angelina, it shows that determined teens can change anything. Explore ideas of code cracking, and how safe your information is online and on your devices.

      WARGAMES- yes, “old” but talk about how even though the tech has changes, the basics of hacking is the same. How safe are things when everything is connected to a computer, and all someone needs is a secret code?
      THE SOCIAL NETWORK- How Facebook got started (and the new Spiderman, BTW), talk about privacy settings and passwords, and what people can see and search for.


      I was lucky enough to meet Darren Shan at ALA Midwinter, and That Guy and I were able to get two of his new series signed for giveaways for Teen Tech Week at my library.  Since my teens are off for Spring Break during TTW, I’m creating this:

      They will have to get four stamps (complete four squares) in order to be entered into the drawing for the book, and thereby will be “checking in” at the library. You could definitely alter it to use for your programs.  (If you want the layout, let me know- it was really easy to create).  I gave them a variety of options, including volunteering, reading, helping me plan summer reading, and doing their homework early.  My favorite is the chocolate- we’ll see if that actually happens.  


      The other big success that I’ve had during tech week is when I’ve got low tech/no tech during gaming programs.  I’m always surprised by when I have a huge knowledge of games that my teens have no comprehension of.  Case in point: Clue.  I was SO excited the first summer I was at my current job, and set up a LIVE CLUE.  I had a duct tape body and EVERYTHING.  None of them had played, so it died.  Literally.  And then they teased the littler kids that it really was a dead body, and I had to reassure a parent that no, there wasn’t a murder in the library, it was just connected to our summer reading program.  *sigh*  So I really like take low tech/no tech games and having a gaming afternoon and getting them involved.