Wednesday, May 20, 2015


These are my notes from the speech I gave at the 8th grade celebration. I used the signs to illustrate my hashtags.

Let’s get a sense of what generations we have here in the room tonight.

(I held up a giant picture of the hashtag symbol)

Raise your hand if this symbol makes you think of “pound” or “number” (anyone over 30)

Raise your hand if this symbol makes you think “hashtag” (all the 8th graders)

"A hashtag is a type of label or metadata tag used on social network and microblogging services which makes it easier for users to find messages with a specific theme or content. Users create and use hashtags by placing the hash character (or number sign) # in front of a word or unspaced phrase. Searching for that hashtag will then present each message that has been tagged with it."

The term 'hashtag' is so popular, it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary  last June.

Popular Solon hashtags are #soloncsd and #solonstrong

There aren’t any rules about hashtags. No one owns them and they can expire if no one uses them.

So, for your #8thgradecelebration

here are some



We have technology everywhere. Especially here in school. You’ve been working with computers since at least 3rd grade. One thing you know is - things don’t always work the way you think they will. You have to be patient and you have to troubleshoot.

We get lots of tech questions in the media center, but I’m sure they are just a fraction of those that you are answering yourselves, because you are using past experience and background knowledge to do your own troubleshooting. That is a life skill!

An important thing to remember when you are troubleshooting is - someone else has probably had this problem too. 5 years ago, I probably would have automatically gone to the “help screens” that are always part of an application. But now what do I do? (What do you do?) Yes, I google it and I usually look for a video. How many of you do that? You are troubleshooting!

And you aren’t going to just have to troubleshoot technology. You will be troubleshooting your life. And your best “help screens” are going to be your role models, adults you trust and your parents.  Learn from their mistakes.


Not all information is created equal. Some of it is downright wrong!

Guess what? Not everything you find on Google is true! It is totally up to you look at that information and ask yourself questions about it. Where did this information come from? Who is the expert and why are they the expert? Is the information current? Can you find the same information in other places? Can it be corroborated?

Do not undersell trustworthy resources because they don’t work exactly like Google.

Do you know what I’m referring to?

DATABASES. Like those available to you free from the state of Iowa through Iowa AEA Online and Grant Wood Area Education Agency.

Who knows the user name and password?

We are REALLY lucky to have these expensive, high quality resources available to us at Solon CSD. Use them to get excellent information. Want to impress your high school teachers? Skip the googling and find a magazine article or an online reference books.

And speaking of credible resources, ask yourself the same kinds of questions when friends are telling you stories that just don’t sound right. Where did this information come from? Who made them the expert? Would trusted adults verify this information? Don’t believe everything you hear and don’t pass questionable information along to other people.


Who thinks that they MAYBE have wasted an average of 1 piece of per a day? Doesn’t sound like much does it?

Multiply the number of SMS students, 446 x 180 days of school.
That equals 80,280 pieces of paper.
Or almost 10 trees.

8th graders. This is NOT necessary. Every single application we have on our computers allows you to do something called print preview. Before you press print, you can determine which pages to print! Your 1 piece of paper is not a big deal, but 160 reams of paper is ridiculous! Please remember this when you get to the high school!

Did you ever think that by looking around at upper classmen and people you admire that you can do your own “print preview”? Watch your role models for good decisions they are making. Avoid mistakes that you see others making. Preview your high school years and just do the things that are good for you. Don’t waste your time and energy on activities that aren’t going to have a positive impact.


Books are definitely marketed by their artwork. Publishers spend a lot of money for what they think will be the magic look that will sell more books. But the truth is, there are plenty of unattractive book covers that hide beautiful, fantastic, wonderful, delightful, mind-blowing, unforgettable stories! Give them a chance.

And remember to give other people a chance to. Everyone is different. They may not look like you. Maybe they don’t smile. Maybe they are shy. Maybe their clothes aren’t the style you like. But inside, they are beautiful, fantastic, wonderful and delightful. Don’t judge people by the way they look.


When you are done with your work online. BE SURE to logout - sign out. Your information is private. Don’t leave it vulnerable to those who might do something malicious.

It’s important to just logout of everything once in awhile. I mean logout and turn off your devices and just go for a walk or read a book. You don’t need to be online 24/7. Try it!

#creationnotconsumption or #makingnottaking

Raise your hand if you played a game on an electronic device today.

Did you create a game today? You can do that!
Have you heard of Thomas Suarez, who learned Java, Python and other programming language so he could make his own iPhone app when he was 12? He now has his own company, Carrot Corp.
Why couldn’t you do that?

Raise your hand if you watched a Youtube video today.

Who watched a Minecraft video?

Minecraft videos got more than 3.9 billion views in March 2015 alone.

97.6% of these views were “fan-created videos” uploaded by people other than the games’ developers and publishers.

You could could make one of those fan videos!

Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Kid President. He’s 11 years old. He’s not sitting around watching movies and playing video games, he’s trying to make the world a little nicer - with his videos.

"It's everybody’s duty to give the world a reason to dance. So get to it." (I did a little tiny dance)

Did you create your own video today? You can do that!

You are smart, creative and have the tools! You can do that and a thousand other things! You don’t have to settle for things other people make. You can be a maker!


When you use information from other sources, you need to acknowledge that. If I had my way, every single assignment from 3rd grade up would require a bibliography. Just because it seems so easy to find information online doesn’t eliminate the need to recognize that you did not create that knowledge. It came from somewhere else.

(and by the way - I researched the definition of hashtag on Wikipedia. Just want to give it credit!)

Giving credit  goes for images, video and other intellectual property as well. It takes 2 seconds to download some one else's art work, but how long did it take them to create it? Don’t they deserve credit for the work they put into it?

How would you feel if you were looking through images on Pinterest and and found that someone had posted one of your Instagram photos? You might feel flattered and happy for awhile, but eventually you’ll probably start feeling like you had something taken from you. (I know, it’s happened to me with digital posters I’ve saved to Pinterest and seen later in a random tweet from someone I don’t even know) The more you post and use social media, the better the chance this will happen to you too.

And giving credit is a good thing! We are not successful in a vacuum. All of us have people to thank for our successes.

I’d like to give a huge shoutout to some special people before I finish up here. My success here at Solon CSD is in large part due to the great people I have worked with. First of all, I want to give huge thanks to Mrs Butterfield, the media center associate here at SMS. She is an incredible advocate for you, for reading and for supporting your academic success. Remember Mrs Day at Lakeview? I need to thank Mrs Day for being awesome. And if you don’t know Mrs Pentico, you will soon. She is the Media Associate at the high school and is going to be someone you can go to for almost anything, including a good book. Thank you Mrs Pentico!

Thank you to Mr Herdliska! You’ve  been a cheerleader for the library program and a fantastic supporter for technology and reading.

And thank you to all of the staff and teachers of Solon Middle School, for your unwavering dedication to the students - to you!

Do you have parents, grandparents or special friends here tonight? Right now, turn around find them and give them a wave or a thumbs up and thank them tonight after this celebration. Give them credit!

Congratulations 8th grade class of 2015! It’s been an honor to be your librarian! I’m expecting great things from you.