App of the Week: Lark

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Title: Lark

Cost: Free

Platform: iOS

Many youth services specialists will be familiar with Lark’s parent site, Storybird, which enables dazzling yet simple drag-and-drop digital storytelling. Like Fridegpoems by Color Monkey, Lark, Storybird’s Poetry app, is a digital incarnation of a refrigerator magnet poetry set, inspiring creativity within a finite vocabulary set as you move and reorder the words it generates over an image.

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A lightning bolt icon launches a new project. You can browse art in a gallery, search by keyword or choose a random different background or word bank by swiping left. Many of the images, alternatingly fantastical and almost unbearably poignant, look as if they were cribbed from vintage picture books. You can also use a color picker to change the colors of the words on screen for optimal artistic impact. The overall effect is quite attractive and quickly achieved. Continue reading

App of the Week: FridgePoems by Color Monkey

Title: FridgePoems by Color Monkey
Platform: iOS
Cost: Free (for basic vocabulary set)

It’s National Poetry Month, and there’s no easier way to promote the creation of verse poetry than setting up a public access tablet with this fun app.

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When you launch the app, you get a “working” space with a handful of words, but you can zoom out to see more. Dragging the word boxes with your fingertips allows you to reorder things to create your verse.

Writers are not strictly limited to the words on screen. You can draw for new words or invest in themed WordPacks ($1 each for hipster tragic, redneck, hip hop, etc. or $3 for all of them). The provision of verb endings and plurals can add some variety as well.
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February Research Roundup

Happy February! Here are some interesting happenings, research, and innovation that you might want to share with your patrons. As always, leave comments if you have any suggestions.

  • Programs such as the It Gets Better Project have made teen suicides, especially those related to homophobia, a more pressing issue. But is it reaching middle school-aged teens and tweens? A new study shows that many teens who have made suicide attempts made their first ones before high school, which means new approaches to mental health and wellbeing need to be taken earlier. U.S. News and World Report did a writeup of the study, which was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
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App of the Week: Poem Flow

Name: Poem Flow
Platform: iPhone (OS 3 or later), iPad, iPod Touch
Cost: ranges from $0.99 to $2.99

POEM FLOW is an app available for the iPhone (requires OS 3 or later), iPod Touch, and iPad. It was one of the first apps I ever downloaded to my iPod Touch several years ago. After all, I am a former English teacher, one who recalls her own students’ distaste for all things poetic back in the 80s and 90s when I was teaching middle school (and I doubt that has changed much since then either).

app on iPod Touch


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Poetry Programming Success – do it yourself

Each year, I try to drum up interest in poetry by creating displays and talking to teachers about National Poetry Month. The displays have sort of worked (one teacher transported the whole display to his classroom to use with his 8th grade English classes), but I wanted more. The problem (common to teen and school librarians everywhere) is that whenever I create “programs” they are often tons of work and poorly attended in the end. So this year, I started talking out loud about my ideas. I had planted a few seeds last year, by sending a copy of a VOYA article to the English faculty. The article was about a school librarian who had created something called “Random Acts of Poetry,” where topical poems are posted all around the school in celebration of National Poetry Month. That was the starting point. English teachers loved the idea, but most had little time to help me plan and I really wanted to create something that had some faculty buy-in. Thankfully, the 12th grade English teacher who is always game to try something new had handed over two of her classes to her student teacher and offered to help. Continue reading

Poetry Programming – How and Why

So, you’re working hard to connect teens with poetry. You’ve tried the Dickens and the Frost and the Angelou and the entire 811 section. The teens are sitting there looking at you bored out of their mind.

Well, have you tried the Beat poets? They’re all about rebellion and individualism, two themes towards which teens will feel a natural affinity. Working with Urban Word NYC and the Precision Poetry Drill Team, The New York Public Library sponsored “Bring the Beat back” at the Bronx Library Center. Performing works from such an influential movement in literature, the members of the Precision Poetry Drill Team inspired several teens to get up and present their own creations at the end of the session. One of the most memorable moments was their adaptation of Alan Ginsberg’s famous “Howl,” which the group decided to perform on top of one of the tables in the Teen Center. If you check out the video link, you can see the opening lines from “Howl” on the scrolling marquee as well. Check out that video (and more):

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The possibilities of virtual education

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Today I finally ‘met’ Hugho Writer, in Second Life (previously we had emailed and IM’d). This time, I flew to EduNation island where he showed me some of the educational tools (presentation boards, screen/remote/ audio stream-in an immersive environment!!) he is using and going to bring to the teen grid. We listened to a Keats poem via audio stream and video. Hugho is an English teacher for a grammar school in Scotland and is excited about partnering with the library island on Teen Second Life. What really blew me away was not so much the educational and presentational tools but this. He proposed this project (using Second Life as an educational tool) to the Scottish Minister of Education in a presentation. The Scottish government is involved as a funding source to make this happen. “The potential is endless,” says Hugho. Wow. I’m so inspired! His blog is here: http://dgs-secondlife.blogspot.com/

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki