The rare stillness

Wednesday morning was a rare morning.  There were no panicked requests in the email inbox.  The before-school flurry of activity from Minecrafters was dampened by whatever virus is currently making its way through the middle school.  It was quiet in the library trailers.  Still.  There was just me and two seniors who sat at a table together, each with an earbud in one ear, laptops out.  Their work was interrupted periodically by questions or comments for each other and sometimes for me.

O: “Ms. Barker, have you heard of the ‘Harlem Shake?'”


Me: “Only through my Twitter stream.”

O proceeds to introduce me to the “Harlem Shake” meme through a series of videos.  She and T then explain that the Harlem Shake is on its way out.  They show me a series of “Harlem Shake” backlash videos.

T: “Ms. Barker, why did you become a librarian?”


Me:  “Well, I used to hang out in the library a lot during high school….”


T & O look at each other and start laughing.  “You are both doomed,” I say.

O then excitedly tells me about MIT and the legendary prank culture that exists at the school.  She read about it, she says.  I tell her about Aaron Swartz.

Our exchanges took maybe all of 10 or 15 minutes, but it was probably my favorite school moment in almost 10 years of school moments.


Yoda supports making

The boy is napping.  What to do with a couple of hours of quiet time?  Open up GIMP of course!  Rule #6 from the Kent/Cage 10 Rules for Students and Teachers is becoming a mantra of mine (especially the “there is no fail” part… That’s reassuring when I really eff something up).  I also think that, “There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.” sounds kind of Yoda-ish.  It’s very “Do or do not.  There is no try.“  I decided to whip up this silly motivational poster which is also kind of one-third of the troll quote assignment.  Kind of.  Sort of.  Maybe…



Rules for teachers and students

Kids come back tomorrow.  I’m ready to see them, ask about their summers, fall into the reassuring rhythm that is the school year.  I’m also nervous.  My librarian colleagues and I are dividing the current shared middle and upper school library.  An academic commons, which will house the upper school library will open in 2013.  The middle school students will return to school in fall 2013 to a renovated library just for them.  It’s exciting, but it also means there’s lots of weeding, evaluating, shifting, cataloging, and whatnot to be done.  The process involves spending a lot of time with our library management system and dusty books and that bores the s**t out of me.  But that professional existential crisis is a story for another time.

This spring I’m teaching a section of senior seminar.  My topic: the DIY/Maker movement in politics, art, technology, etc.  I’m looking forward to it.  I’m also nervous.  What if it bombs?  What if no one other than me thinks the DIY/Maker stuff is fascinating?  I glanced at my student roster.  There are a bunch of smart, talented kids in that class.  Here’s hoping I can engage them for how many weeks?!

The 10 Rules for Students and Teachers circulated around Camp Magic Macguffin this summer.  After my first reading, I knew I wanted to incorporate the spirit of this list into the DIY/Maker senior sem.  I’m pretty sure that my kids and I should get “There is no win and no fail.  There is only make” t-shirts.

Oh, that’s totally going to be a project.

Cage's 10 rules for teachers & students

(BTW, here’s a bit of background info on the above list from Brainpickings.)

What happens when there is time

workin’ in the summer time

This summer isn’t what I expected.  Back in May I ran into this thing called Camp Magic Macguffin.  It is by far the most fun and rewarding professional development I’ve ever done.  Ever.  I’m not sure I would even classify it as professional development.  That makes it sound required or something done out of necessity.  I did it, because it looked awesome.  Go back and click that link to Camp Magic Macguffin.  Do it!  (thank you).  Now tell me you wouldn’t want to be a part of that if you stumbled across it during your internet meanderings.

Camp Magic Macguffin is the summer version of DS106, a digital storytelling class from the University of Mary Washington.  It’s given me a lot to think about in regards to the way I consume tv, movies, books, and music.  It’s given me a lot to think about in regards to communicating.  It’s also why I’m here.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the “domain of one’s own” philosophy and digital identity.  Do I have anything eloquent to say concerning the ownership of one’s digital identity?  Not yet, but those thoughts are taking shape.  Right now I’m interested in figuring out how things work and taking back a little control.

Had I not bumped into Camp Magic Macguffin back in May, I would’ve spent some time this summer researching comic books and working on the section of senior seminar I’ll be teaching in the spring.  The senior seminar class focuses on the DIY/Maker ethos in politics, music, art, technology, education, etc.  It’s pretty exciting.  I’m hoping the kids will be just as enthusiastic about it.

Summer.  It’s been a season for kicking around the parks with Joe, visiting the butterfly exhibit at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, grabbing the occasional ice-cream at Bev’s in Carytown.  It’s been a season for exploring creativity and tools for creation and interesting subjects like comic books and the maker movement.  It’s been day after day of unstructured time.  Time.  That’s a wonderful thing to have.

related reading: “Time for Students” by Jason Markey (tweeted by Helen Keegan — @heloukee)