Have some Teen Tech Geeks in your school or public library? Use Teen Tech Week as an opportunity for these teen geeks to demonstrate and promote their tech skills and knowledge.

Suggested activities for your teen geeks are:

1. Teach or demonstrate a new application in a class or as a program in the public library.

2. Create an instructional video/podcast on how to use a particular application.

3. Participate globally in projects/competitions such as Thinkquest or GlobalSchoolNet or TakingITGlobal

4. Become “curators” and create pathfinders and curation pages for research projects.

Register for Teen Tech Week and promote your teen tech geeks!

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. Read More →

Teen Tech Week 2012 is still months away (March 4-10), but planning for it is well under way at my library, Niles Public, in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.’  The deadline for’ finalizing spring programs at my library is January 9 (gulp) just a month from now.

Fortunately, the official Teen Tech Week website has a planning toolkit that includes ideas for events and activities, including one that I worked on over the summer that called “No Budget, No Time Book Adaptations.”‘ ‘  The goal is to create a short movie adaptation (2 minutes tops) of a favorite book. Pull out only the most important parts and write a 2-page script, draw stick-figure storyboards, and put together simple costumes and props from materials you have on hand. Shoot it in order and do just one take of each shot. Edit it using simple software like Windows MovieMaker or Apple iMovie, or upload your footage to youtube and edit it there (yes, youtube has some editing software built into their site, now).

The idea sprung from a project I worked on with the Niles Teen Advisory Board for James Kennedy’s 90-Second Newbery festival.’  The TAB members chose to create a 90-second adaptation of The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle.’  They did everything from writing the script to selecting royalty-free music for it.’  I was there to serve as an adviser and help with the editing.

The end result is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6GJZZDNsWU.‘  Go watch it right now, then come back.’  Here are a few things that I learned from working on that video:

1. More’  Script = More Time
Umm, you probably noticed that it’s a little longer than 90 seconds.’  The script the TAB-members came up with was about 5 pages; 3 pages too long if you figure that one page of script amounts to about 1 minute of screen time.’  The dialog was really funny though, and when it came time to edit the finished video I didn’t have the heart to cut out all of those funny lines.’ ‘ A longer script also means’ more time spent shooting and editing, so if you only have a few hours to work on a video’ then you’ll need to set a page limit and stick to it.

2. Let the Teens Do All the Work
Besides writing the script, they came up with costumes and props.’  The locations we used were all in the library, and the teens were in charge of decorating the set.’  One teen worked the camera while another one worked the microphone.’  I did a lot during the editing process (more on that, later) but they were there with me, telling me what parts I could cut.’  The teens have more fun when they are doing everything.’  Give everyone a job, even if it is something deceptively simple like monitoring the set and props to make sure nothing is missing from shot to shot (this is an actual profession called “script supervising” that’ is’ perfect for’ people who like to pick movies and tv shows apart for continuity errors).

3. Don’t Skip Steps Like Storyboarding
We did, because the’ TAB members’ who like to draw were unavailable when we were in the planning stages.’  I think the video suffered because of it.’  Storyboards are basically a rough comic’ book version’ of what your video will look like when it’s done.’ ‘ They show you what each scene should look like’ from the camera’s point of view,’ which makes deciding where to set the camera much easier.’ Storyboarding’ takes time in the beginning, but having that visual guide’ ends up saving time later, especially when you get to the editing stage.

4. Editing Can Be Tedious, Simple Software Can Make It Less So
The more time you spend trying to figure out how your editing software works, the more time editing your project is going to take.’  My library has Sony Vegas editing software.’  It’s great software, and can do some cool things like speeding up and slowing down the video footage.’  It’s also not software that many teens (including our TAB members) are familiar with, and not the most intuitive software available.’  In my opinion, both Apple’s iMovie and Windows MovieMaker are easier to use.’  I had the teens help me, and their extra sets of eyes were a great help in figuring out how to do things like speeding up some sections of the video footage.’  If we’d had iMovie, they could have edited the whole thing themselves, and I would only be there to step in if they had a question.

5. Have Fun
The teens were a little disappointed that their no-budget video didn’t look professional.’  They were embarrassed to watch themselves on screen, even though they’d had fun when they were acting in front of the camera.’  To make them feel better, I showed them a bunch of the other crude-looking, badly acted 90-Second Newbery videos on youtube.’  Making a video with your teens should be fun.’  Try to inject some professionalism into it by using storyboards and a designating a script supervisor, but remember to laugh at your funny costumes, line flubs and’ flimsy set (part of ours fell down during the shoot) along the way.

You’ve already been promoting Teen Tech Week for a few weeks now in order to gain interest in your library’s upcoming programs, and things should be all set and ready to go next week!’  But marketing shouldn’t stop here.’  There will be many opportunities during these programs to capture rich details to promote the success online or even to promote TTW next year.’  So consider recording your TTW programs by whatever means you have at-hand; digital camera, video camera, teen/staff testimonials, collecting program creations, etc.

For those with cameras (video or picture), you can ask a teen volunteer or other staff member to be a cameraperson to catch all activities while you run the program.’  The cameraperson could take a passive role by simply recording the program, or a more active role by interacting with teens or setting up a “testimonial” booth for attendees to share their thoughts on prepared questions. Read More →

Creating fun mix and mash programs for your students during Teen Tech Week can be easy and cheap.

Skype with students in another state or country, or reach out to authors, experts, or people of interest. Use your connections to find Skype partners who your teens would love to chat with: athletes, musicians, or media professionals are great places to start. To stay even truer to Teen Tech Week, bring in a technology expert who can talk to teens about their job and how they got into it. To find authors to Skype with, visit the Skype an Author website.

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How are your preparations for Teen Tech Week 2011 coming? With budget and staffing strain it can be difficult to find the resources to plan events for teens in your libraries. However, the teens can be your biggest asset when it comes to program planning and presentation. Find out what they’re interested in and help bring their ideas to life. It will increase program attendance and could develop into an active Teen Advisory Group.

In case you’re still making arrangements for your event, here are some low cost Teen Tech Week programming ideas.
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Teen Tech Week is a great time to start thinking about how to incorporate technology into your library services the rest of the year. Budgets are tight in libraries all over the country but technology keeps humming along, moving faster than we can keep up with monetarily. Teens specifically have an expectation that we should be keeping up. They aren’t wrong. So how do you advocate for enough technology funding to keep up with technology?

We shouldn’t stop proposing new ideas for service just because we don’t have a lot of money. It just means that we have to be selective with what projects we propose and very creative with funding sources. We also need to put as much thought as possible into the proposal before we go to management with it.
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Librarians looking for evidence that gaming programs are worthwhile may want to check out the new book by game designer Jane McGonigal.’  McGonigal appeared on the Colbert Report tonight to promote Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World.

In her interview with Colbert, McGonigal pointed out that 10 years of scientific research show that playing games is one of the most productive things people can do.’  The emotions gamers feel while playing can also spill over into the real world, so that they feel more confident and do better at tests, for instance.

McGonigal has been preaching the merits of massive, multiplayer games for years, as she did in this February 2010 interview on Wired.com.’  Besides making people happy, she says, games can help young people learn how to work together to solve real-world problems.

Playing the game World Without Oil, for instance, spurred gamers to change their daily habits, and to encourage friends and family to do the same.’  Last year she designed the game Evoke for young people in Africa.’  It’s a crash course in starting a business and tackling problems like poverty at a local level.’  Last August, 57,000 gamers’  were credited as co-authors of a paper for the journal Nature for playing a game (FoldIt) where the goal is to fold virtual proteins in new ways.

McGonigal wants gamers to realize that, just like their powerful avatars, they can be heroic and resilient when it comes to tackling the world’s problems. Right now, there are people playing games that could help them to cure cancer, end poverty and stop climate change.’  McGonigal’s goal is get 3 billion people around the globe to play games like these for an hour a day.

Some libraries have a hard time enticing teens to attend programs within the library’s walls. There are some Librarians who face this challenge and look at it as a way out of teen programming.’  But most of us know that if you can’t draw them in, then you have to join them where they are!’  In the library or not, we should always be reaching out and scouring the community to find ways we can better serve our target population.

If you fear a dismal turnout for Teen Tech Week events at your library, you are not alone!’  But consider taking your show on the road to a place where you know teens congregate.’  Whether that place be at the usual outreach spots: local community center, parks & rec, after-school programming, the classroom, the school media center; ‘ or perhaps a new partner in the nearest pizza joint, book store, electronics store, or the mall.’  Attempting to make new contacts is not always easy, but if you go into it knowing that your confidence can not be cut down too much when all the prospective partner can say is “no”, then its really no sweat.’  Read More →

Teen Tech Week 2011 (March 6-12) isn’t just for public libraries, as you know. There are lots of fun ways to incorporate it into your school library without breaking the budget.

This year, the theme of Teen Tech Week is Mix and Mash. It’s an awesome theme because you really can do anything at all with it. On February 24, I’ll be writing about programming and book displays for the teen library, but for this post, I thought it would be worthwhile to highlight some curriculum-based activities that can be tied into TTW. According to the YALSA TTW site, Teen Tech Week 2011″focuses on encouraging teens to use library resources to express their creativity by developing their own unique online content and safely sharing it by using online collaborative tools.” Fantastic – school libraries are the perfect place to create online content. And librarians are pretty good at guiding teens through the process of sharing their work online in a safe way, right? So here we go.

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