May 27, 2012

Lunchtime Gaming

*Please note:  To protect the privacy of my student in this article, he will be called DeShaun. 

Lunch periods in my Library Media Center has always been reserved for students that need to study, check out books, work on a project, print or just take a mental break from the day's instruction.   Since having iPads in my LMC since February, students are now heavily involved in Gaming activities. 
Just to be clear, Gaming activities are permitted during the students free time - not during class periods.   Students visit before and after school but the majority of the foot traffic is during the lunch periods.   I quietly sit behind my circulation desk, observe and casually ask questions.   Sometimes I'll walk over to their tables and peer over their shoulders to see what all of the hype is about.  

Here are a couple of my observations:
1.  More students are visiting the LMC daily.   I often have a group of students waiting for me as early as 7:30a.m. during my LMC set up time.   The traffic has also become so heavy that I am printing more student sign-in sheets!

2.  More boys are visiting the LMC.   Usually these are the kids that have not set foot into the LMC since orientation last August.   After using the iPads, they discover that I have a large Anime/Manga collection and now they're hooked on iPads and books.

3.  Girls that I didn't know enjoyed gaming are coming into the LMC.  It's kind of funny because I see them beating the pants off of the boys while playing certain games.

4.   Some of my shy/introverted students have found a new social group/friends through lunchtime Gaming.  For example, *DeShaun who rarely has two words to say, shared his sketches with me.  Since then I introduced him to the President of the Anime/Manga Club and since joining, now has a new group of friends with similar interests.
This student's grandfather taught him how to play chess.
Now he is teaching this young lady how to play the game.
5.  Traditional games are being played.   I downloaded the Scrabble and Chess Apps and the students have been teaching each other how to play the games.  One young man taught three of his friends how to play.  Now this group comes in after school on days when I keep the LMC open until 5:00p.m.

6.  The students have been very creative in identifying apps that are free.   They read the reviews on the app store website, visit the developers homepage or learn about the apps through word of mouth.  

7.  Earlier in the month I was out of the building for training and was ill.  When I returned to work, I had a group of 'disgruntled' teens that wanted to know, what was MY problem and why I wasn't at work.  Isn't that something!
Students surrender their school
issued i.d. while using the iPads.
8.  IPad users are very responsible when using the iPads and understand it's a privilege.  They have followed my guidelines about proper use and care of the devices when they are using them.  They students have also been very cooperative.  Sometimes when I run out of iPads, the students volunteer to share their devices with other students.  In some cases, I've had three students using an iPad at one time.
Before checking in their iPad, these students
wipe of their finger prints using micro-fiber cloths.
9.  Taking pictures is a pastime that the students really enjoy.  Once I get a little more versed with iMovie, I will be introducing them to filming their own short movies.

This students likes to use PhotoBooth
10.  Teens are socializing with each other!  They are working together to develop effective strategies to play games.  

Though many don't approve of me allowing gaming activities during school hours, I just don't agree with them.  The periods of the day where I allow students to participate in Gaming activities,  are designated as the students free time.  They should be able to take a 'break' before returning to class.
What I have observed over the last couple of weeks has been only positive for my students.  Gaming is a great source of outreach for teens.  Gaming is also, a good way to change the overall image of the LMC from a place where they can't converse with each other to a place that is viewed as a cool hang out.

By providing a safe/stress free place to hang out, my students are socializing with their friends while playing video game.  They are in a environment that is filled with print/electronic resources, a supportive librarian and access to knowledge.   Because of these reasons, I will continue to push forward and continue to allow my students to play their favorite games on the iPad.

Read more about Gaming and Libraries on the I Love Libraries - Gaming  website.  Maybe next year, I'll submit a story for National Gaming Week.  Stay tuned!

May 13, 2012

Skyping With Author Ni-Ni Simone

We Skyped using a Promethean Board and iPad.
This student purchased books at the local
Walmart for her personal library at home
On Friday, May 11th, my students enjoyed a Skype session with author Ni-Ni Simone.  Simone is the popular author of teen books, "Shortie Like Mine," "Teenage Love Affair," and "Upgrade U."  My students and I are just crazy about her books, and looking forward to her new release, "No Boyz Allowed," on July 31st.  
A graduating senior
enjoys the presentation
Many of the girls discussed the challenges of maintaining positive friendships with their peers and finding real love.  They all commented how Simone's characters experienced similar challenges and how their actions helped them personally.   What I loved about this author is that she gave the girls good sound advice in a down to earth manner.  She stressed the importance loving themselves, understanding what makes them special and making good decisions that would affect their lives.  She really listened to what the girls were saying and gave advise to the teens in a non-preaching manner.   This is why many of the students that attended were so 'open' and expressed themselves and their personal feelings.  

Here's a couple of my students that made signs for the event.
If you haven't read a Ni-Ni Simone book, I strongly suggest you do.  Though the books are intended for a teen audience, adults will enjoy them too.  These books are constantly checked out from my library and some of my teaching colleagues have them in their classroom libraries.  In regards to the content of teen books like Simone's,  I often cringe at the lack of realism in the stories.  This is not the case for Simone's teen books.   The stories are true to life, the raw emotions are relatable and some of the situations that teens get themselves into are humorous.   Her books are good reads for book clubs and classroom reads because lively discussions will be derived from the reading.

Many thanks for author Ni-Ni Simone for taking time out of her busy schedule to meet with my students!