For a lot of school librarians, celebrating Teen Tech Week can present some steep challenges. Not every librarian teaches classes, or has a designated time with their students to demonstrate and create, leaving tech programming a little up in the air. Many may not even see the point in celebrating– “If I only have the kids when they stop in for five minutes each day to print, how can I show off this really cool cloud tool or have them make an awesome podcast?”
If you find yourself in the “I want to, but when” boat, never fear! Here are some easy ways to integrate technology into your library for the week without disrupting classes or running yourself ragged.
1. Work with Other Teachers
If your school has a designated technology teacher or other instructors that you have a good relationship with, talk with them about collaborating on something for Teen Tech Week. English class working on a big report? Show off NoodleTools or BibMe to help with citations. Is the art teacher in search of some photo editing/easy to use software? Come into a class and let the kids play with GIMP. You’ll not only have the time to teach the students about something helpful, but having them use it to support preexisting curriculum will help reinforce the lesson and make sure they remember it.
2. Have a Tactile Tech Experience
You may not be able to get the kids to sit down and learn how to use this great tool or play around on this website, but leave a piece of tech on the table and any teen’s first response is to pick it up and go “What’s this?” Consider having a more hardware driven display; if your school uses any technology (tablets, iPads, eReaders, etc.) have them out on a table with a fun app or program pulled up; let the kids play around with it as they come and go throughout the day.
If your school isn’t so tech heavy, visit local thrift stores or the Goodwill and pick up some old tech– typewriters, old cameras, radios, etc.– and put them out for your teens to interact with. Let your teens experience what it was like to try and type on a type writer versus a computer keyboard, how heavy some of the early polaroid cameras were, etc.
3. Afterschool Tech Party
No one says your Teen Tech Week celebrations have to take place during the academic day. Ask the administration about having an after-school tech party (with the all important “Free Snacks!” included).
4. Teen Teachers
You know you have that one kid who’s really into Minecraft and wants to talk about it. Then there’s the student who remixes their own tracks on Garage Band, and the one who makes hysterical YouTube videos in the hopes of going viral. Find your techie, fun teens and let them help run the show. If your kids are allowed in the library during lunches, have 15 minute mini-classes with teens showing off their Geek to their peers and teaching them how to use their particular tool.
5. Teen Tech Week Can Last All Year
Just like the holiday spirit doesn’t have to leave you when that last gingerbread cookie goes stale, Teen Tech Week can last far beyond a week. If you didn’t find time to celebrate while it was going on, you can still make a safe and fantastic place for your teens to geek out with technology all year round. Try and have a Tech Day every month or every trimester/semester. Have a student tech committee meet to talk about how the school is using technology and how it could maybe be improved. Start encouraging student and faculty input and interest now and you’ll have an amazing Teen Tech Week next year!
Just remember: you don’t have to be Technology Superman. If you’re not comfortable with all of the technology your students are using, that’s fine. If you’re not the most tech-savvy super user in the world, that’s okay. The important thing is for you to foster an environment that encourages teens to try new things, ask questions, and help each other out.