Another good day at the Teen Design Lab. We had a pretty free form day, complete with some inspiration, project time, and stickers.

What we did:

  • Watched some library related humor videos (such as Check It Out made by the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library — what a great job they did incorporating Taylor Swift into EVERYTHING). These videos served as inspiration and a potential design project. We wanted to give teens the option of making a video parody to promote the library.
  • Then it was design time. This is the neat part of the camp. We just let the teens be, serving really only as sounding boards and offering words of encouragement. We provide laptops, paper, pens, and other design supplies (such as clay, building blocks, felt, etc) so they can create a prototype of some sort. It was neat to see the teens find their element — some needed to make something with their hands while others made detailed dream plans and steps to success charts. The design process also the teens to showcase their talents and strengths, which is awesome. At the same time, we are aligning with library and community priorities — giving suggestions on how to make the teens feel welcome or participate in their community and or library.
  • The day ended with a sticker workshop. Again, this pulls from Makerspace and Fab Lab ideas and equipment (check out the Maker & DIY Programs YALSA Wiki page for more information about this sort of programming). It was an easy setup — laptops running Silhouette software, Silhouette vinyl cutters, and vinyl for the stickers. It’s another workshop where the teens really have free reign over what they want to do. Our only suggestion was using a silhouette image for the cleanest cut. The teens really took off on this project, most printing multiple sets of vinyl. They picked up on it pretty quickly (and a few had done this before). It was a nice way to end the workshop.

The teens will be back tomorrow, continuing to work on their designs and then give a brief presentation to their peers and community members we’ve invited to come so the teens’ opinions can be heard!

Wednesday was a bit of a slow day. Lucky for us, we had something free form planned for the teens to explore.

We called it a Tech Playground. Our potential project ideas were:

  • Facebook pot for the Peoria Heights Public Library
  • Google Maps with pins of their favorite places in Peoria Heights
  • Experiment with graphic design using Canva, Gimp, or Imgur
canva

Canva overview image from Reel Bold Media

What won out was Canva. I had only briefly worked with this website and I was the one who had recommended it after hearing about it at a social media conference. To sign up, all you need is an email address or can log in with Facebook or a Google account.

From there, you can make almost any sort of design. Flyers, Facebook covers, Etsy banners, posters, business cards — the sky is the limit. With the design, there are both free templates and templates that can be purchased at low cost ($1 or so). You can upload your own photos, use copyright free images, or purchase images from Canva (again around $1 or so). It’s relatively easy to maneuver around the site, and lots of tutorials to watch if you get confused. Here’s a thing we made!

We made a thing!

The teens seemed very into it and said it was one of their favorite things they did that day. It was a great project to just let them run wild and to create something they wanted to use. We also confirmed that Facebook is just not a social media this group of teens use (paralleling recent studies done that say teens are moving away from using Facebook).

After Canva, which was hard to tear the teens away, we had a volunteer from the Peoria Heights Historical Society come in. The teens seemed engaged with the volunteer and asked some good questions. The day ended with conversations on potential design projects they will officially start tomorrow and a conversation with the director of the library. He had looked at their feedback on the Hack Your Library project. The conversation was pretty good, but of course, came back to similar problems — teen involvement and investment. The teens gave good suggestions, such as scouting a couple of teens and allowing them to have a very active role in program planning. If they can bring a couple of friends, then the program has a chance of taking off. I’m curious to know in the future if the director keeps this in mind. I think getting teen feedback is so crucial. We can guess all we want, but at the end of the day, what the teens say and think does matter.

Looking forward to day four and getting more into the design process!

Let's Go Rocket LogoName: Let’s Go Rocket
Platform: iOS
Price: Free

I’m always on the look out for fun new games whether they are for my computer or my mobile device, so when I ran across Let’s Go Rocket I was quick to check it out. This free iOS game is very simple. You are given a rocket and you have to navigate it through a series of obstacles. You can vary the speed of your rocket by either touching it to speed up or letting go of it to slow it down. Sounds simple, right? However, there are a lot of additional details that make this game quite complicated. First, you have to ensure that your rocket moves fast enough that it doesn’t drift off of the bottom of your screen. If it does, you lose. Moreover, you can’t move side to side at all, so avoiding obstacles is not as easy as it might first seem. And, there are a lot of different types of obstacles that will keep you on your toes. Along the way, you also encounter gems to gather and aliens to pick up along the way. To add to the fun, you can choose which rocket you would like to use when you first start the game and there are options to buy or unlock other rockets as you go along.

Though Let’s Go Rocket is fairly simple, I have found it very enjoyable and almost frustratingly difficult. Even when I know exactly what my objective is, the app manages to make achieving it difficult with the sensitivity of the controls and the limited range of motion for the rocket. The app indicates your best result on the screen as a sort of “finish line” that you can cross, which is a nice way to keep track of your progress and motivate yourself to keep pushing further. The artwork in the app is very cute featuring not only an array of rockets, but also adorable aliens and great backgrounds that make the game very engaging.

Let's Go Rocket Screenshot

Let’s Go Rocket is a good combination of simple controls, fun artwork and difficult gameplay elements. This makes it a nice option for both those who like casual games and those who want a bit more difficulty in their games. Though the app does include additional features that can be purchased, it can be played without these add-ons, meaning that it is a nice free option to recommend to teens at your library.

Have a suggestion for App of the Week? Let us know. And find more great Apps in the YALSA Blog's App of the Week Archive.

Back for day two reflection! We added one more teen to the group, bringing our total up to five. Today was a heavy work day, although we were taking into consideration the request from the teen for more projects.

The afternoon began with working on something for the internet. We gave the teens three options: make a Facebook post for the Peoria Heights Public Library page (since our camp takes place at this library), make a blurb that could go up on the Richwoods Township website (since Roger came from the township to talk to us yesterday), or create a Google Map with pins at places they had visited on the community tour on Monday. More on that in what went well and what could be improved. 

Then, the Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab made an appearance (and they are team members in this larger grant helping to pay me and my co-teachers to develop and run this camp). They brought along a friend, aka a portable laser. Holly, one of the Fab Lab instructors, led the five teens though designing a notebook cover to be lasered on a small Moleskine notebook. It was a great workshop and the teens had to find a quote they liked. We can definitely think of this workshop as a way to develop interest-based, developmentally appropriate programs that support connected learning. The teens had full say in what their notebooks looked like and this design process exposed them not only to design tools, but file management, USB procedures (like eject USB before physically removing it), and exposure to technology they might not have seen or used before.

With the notebooks begin lasered, the teens then did Hack Your Library. Essentially, they each had a clipboard, pencil, and a bunch of post-it notes. They were to carefully and thoughtfully go through the library, writing down on the post-it notes what they liked about the library, what they didn’t like, and things that surprised them (very similar to what they did the day before in downtown Peoria Heights). The afternoon ended with the teens presenting their findings to the group. The director of the library who we’ve been working closely with couldn’t sneak away to hear the presentation but was looking at the feedback on our way out after camp was over.

Read More →

When I received my acceptance letter as YALSA’s 2014-2015 Board Fellow I was so ecstatic. I’d been involved in YALSA before I even began my time in library school at Drexel University. First serving on the Fabulous Films for Young Adults Committee and then YALS editorial Advisory Committee and the Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults Committee. But this I knew would give me a different experience that I was looking forward to, especially thinking at the time that I would love to run for an opportunity to sit on the YALSA Board of Directors.

Well, my year as Board Fellow did not disappoint. In fact, it proved to be so much more than what I bargained for when I first started out. I had certain tasks to fulfill as described in the YALSA Board Fellow Program - a major task of which was to undertake a project for the year. Stemming from a mega issue discussion, I quickly realized that the conversation of board diversity needed to continue and, with the help of Beth Yoke and Shannon Peterson, I put together a board document that would later be discussed at ALA midwinter 2015 and voted on to be moved forward via the work of a task force. I agreed to Chair this taskforce and work is currently underway to make suggestions for how YALSA can increase and maintain ongoing diversity among the board of directors.

Read More →

Hi everyone! So I wrote a post on Friday about an upcoming camp I was helping to plan. During the afternoons this week, we are leading a Teen Design Lab camp. Our general objectives for the camp are:

  • Help youth learn about the community through exploration
  • Engage youth in contributing to community problem-solving
  • Learn about digital media and technology

I’ll be leading a week long reflection series about how the camp goes with the teens each day and how what we are doing fits in while YALSA’s programming guide. I’ll try to have the reflection post every evening, although this first post is the morning after (since the first day is full of craziness, debriefing, and figuring out where to get dinner).

Day One 

What we did:

  • Spent some time on designing a roadmap for the week (see photo). Ann had written this roadmap for the week in terms of the themes of the projects we would be working on and then what skills and outcomes we were hoping for. This roadmap was partially empty and in the picture, you can see we asked questions and got answers from the teens to fill in the roadmap.
  • Community tour. We had the teens go out into the Peoria Heights downtown area and observe what they liked about the area (and what teens might like about this area), what they thought was problematic or what they didn’t like about the area, and then what questions they had or what surprised them about something they saw. We also sent them out with iPad Minis to take photographs with. We encouraged them to talk to store owners and ask questions. The facilitators wandered around the downtown area as well, but we really let the teens do their own thing. We will use this feedback for future design projects this week.
  • Spoke with the township administrator, Roger, (we had met him previously and he gave us input in how he hoped the camp would run). He talked about his beliefs in doing community engagement and some of the neat projects the Richwoods Township had done recently.

IMG_1146

Read More →

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

During the summer months, some librarians and library workers experience a lull or even an entire "break" (I use the word loosely, fellow school librarians); however, many teen services librarians are in the middle of a whirlwind of programming. It would be appropriate to save the summer reading wrap-up for the end of the summer, but this is a great time to check-in with programs and other services. If you work with teens during the summer months, how do you maintain your enthusiasm for programming? How have teens responded to non-summer reading programs and events? Please share tales of your own programs - successes and failures, highlights and lowlights - in the comments below!

Read More →

Since May, I’ve been part of a planning team designing a week-long summer camp (July 20-24, 2015) for 8-12 year olds and for teens in the Peoria Heights (IL) area. This team is a smaller aspect of a much larger project, the Digital Innovation Leadership Program (DILP). This project is funded through the University of Illinois Extension and works with 4H offices across Illinois to plan and lead programs. Our goal is to focus on three learning areas: digital manufacturing, digital media production, and data analytics.

For me, it’s an exciting grant because it really builds off what I’ve done this past year. I get the opportunity to think more about digital literacy and how what I learned can be applied in other situations, always bending the curriculum/workshop to fit the context of the group. Additionally, I played a major role in the creation of the 8-12 year old camp and played a support role in developing the curriculum for the teens. The teens are building off the work of Ann Bishop and her team have been doing in Seattle: InfoMe, which I wrote about in my December 2014 post. Here are five things I learned (or got confirmed) about planning along the way.

Read More →

I'm very proud of all the work that the 2014-2015 YALSA Board has accomplished, and wanted to share with you some of the highlights of our work from Annual last month.

  • The board approved the proposed Professional Values document, which outlines nine core values that define professionalism for those who work for and with teens through libraries
  • The board discussed Member Recruitment and directed the Standing Board committee on Member Recruitment & Engagement to explore the issue further and bring recommendations back to the board
  • The board discussed ways that YALSA might better support members in their Collection Development  and content curation efforts and determined a first step would be to compile resources on YALSA’s wiki
  • The board passed a policy designed to encourage a broader segment of the membership to participate in Selection Committees .  Beginning Feb. 1, 2016 any individual who has served on any YALSA award committee will need to wait two years before they’re eligible to serve on another YALSA award committee
  • The board voted to establish an Award & Selection Committees Oversight Committee to help ensure that these committees have the support they need to run smoothly
  • The board decided to put a proposal to the membership to vote on tying YALSA Dues to the Consumer Price Index, which will appear on the 2016 ballot
  • The board got an update on what is being done to align resources and activities with the Futures Report
  • The board approved a petition to establish a Teen Mental Health Interest Group.

To learn more, check out the Board agenda and documents as well as the meeting minutes.

At the conclusion of the board meeting, I turned over the reins to Candice Mack, who will be the awesome 2015 – 2016 YALSA President.

The Board’s next meeting will be at the 2016 ALA Midwinter Meeting, Jan. 8 – 12. We're looking forward to seeing YALSA members in Boston! And remember, YALSA's YA Services Symposium is coming up in Portland, Oregon, November 6 - 8.

Thanks for all that you do to make YALSA an amazing association and I enjoyed working with you all this past year!