Excerpts from Augustown

My book club is reading Augustown by Kei Miller. Here I set quotes and thoughts for our discussion.

P.13 Them so fucking short-sighted -the whole lot of them. Not one ounce of good any of this warring going to do except to we off.

P.25 The stone that poor people like us born with, Irene. Is the stone that sit right on top of our heads. The one that always stop we from rising.

P.42 … Soft-Paw, had walked back down the lane lugging two rucksacks, how the shapes of handguns a machine rifles were clear through the canvas of those two bags, and how they all caught their breath upon seeing this. The guns where in the bags but people still squinted at the shininess of them, and it felt afterwards that the shape of those guns became the shape of the entire day.

P.46 dreadlocks, Miss Garrick! Dreadlocks! Like some dirty little African from the bush, and sitting there right in front of me, so brazen with his hairstyle. No, no, no! I will not tolerate it.

P.51 mr. Saint Joseph’s is not an unattractive man, and yet he carries himself in an unattractive way. So strong and so desperate is his belief that he is other than what he actually is, that he moves his body and awkward ways, Squeezes it into the wrong clothes, gives it gestures and mannerisms and styles that he probably Imagens are graceful but which come across as clumsy and buffoonish. “Pitchy-Patchy-Head”

P.53 around him she became her most flirtatious self. She found excuses to touch him on his knee, or to fix his hair. Yet he showed no signs that the attraction was mutual. This should have been a sign to her. Still, she was only 19, and more than a little foolish, and so Mr. St. Joseph’s complete non-reciprocation only made her infatuation grow too unhealthy proportions.

P.60 she wishes she was the kind of woman who knew other things-the candles to light, the oil to poor, the tea to brew that would create a place of peace.

P.65 Aunt Mathilda suddenly grimaced. She rubbed her stomach the way old Jamaican women occasionally do. “Norah, my dear, you have any ginger there?”

P.66 The old people used to talk these things. They say many of us was born with the ability to fly, but we lose say yes when we started eating salt. Is like the salt weigh us down… sometimes a man or woman might go into fasting and when I spend time they lose all the cells from them body, then that time they would start to float. And some of them did blow all the way back to the motherland. Back to Africa. They called them the flying Africans.

P.83. We have to think of this island like a brand. Brand Jamaica,

P.91 in Augustown back then, there were many kinds of stories: Bible stories and Anancy stories; book stories and susu stories; stories read by lamplight and stories told by moonlight. But always there was this divide between the stories that were written and stories that were spoken-stories that smelt of snow and far away places, and stories that had the smell of their own breath.

P.109 … just the every day story of this goddamn island-just another striving man that this blasted country decide to pull down.

P.114 [Bedward] declared he was going to heaven together bolts of lightning in his calloused hands and he would bring them back down with him to that island where he would smite the white wall, the white upper-class rascals who, even though slavery had ended, were still oppressing the poor black folk.

P.116 … this story is about the kinds of people you have never taken the time to believe in.

P.121 to know a man properly, you must know the shape of his hurt-the specific wound around with his person has been formed like a scab.

P.135 Augustown has rhythms and patterns from which is constructed it’s own sons of the bed now, of the unspectacular, of the “hardly to be commented on.”

P.137 on one August 1838-what they now call “August morning”… Queen Victoria had signed the paper that gave them back their freedom. They did not March far: less than a mile, to this valley. They called it August town, as if the place itself or the freedom they had just received… this place was no freedom, and massa day was not done. Massa had only changed his name. He was no longer “Busha” or “Buckra” or “Massa.” He was now “Boss” or “Miss” or “Sergeant.”

P.138 Stone by stone de wall fall.

P.140 Babylon yu throne gone down, gone down

P.143 Her addled mind has made the long-ago incident suddenly current…

P.144 The great philosophical question goes: if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear, does it make a sound? But this is a troubling question, exalting one kind of being above all others. What then of the ears of snakes, or wood frogs, or mice, or bugs? Do they not count? What then of grass, of stone, of earth? Does their witness not matter? … Always-always-there are witnesses.

P.147 “What wrong?” Sister Gilzene asks… The girl thinks about this. What is wrong? Everything is wrong! Nothing has been right about the day, and yet it occurs to her that wrong days are so much more exciting than “right” days.

P.157 … if you were lucky enough to find a dictionary that had in it blackpeople’s words…

P.158 Apocalypse, originally Greek. Apokalypsis: a disclosure; an uncovering of knowledge. 

P.159 … this whole process-how various dialects bleed into each other; however he language is a graveyard of languages, however language is a storehouse of history.

P.174 She could actually teach again. She could do something that really mattered. She believe she now understood something of the effect of Miss G had on her-the slightly fragile pride with which the young woman carried herself-and Mrs. G decided that she is mired her attitude.

P.178 One night in the dark, as they were patting their pillows taking their usual shapes in the bed…

P.181 “The song dies with the wind.” Gina!

P.183 To everyone else the day was terribly humid, but without his dreadlocks it had felt like a kind of December day, like a Christmas breeze was blowing on his head.

P.184 would have called down brimstone and thunder and judgement… the ears of Augustown would have been listening, and would have needed to hear for make the most of this one opportunity when one of their own to give a piece of their mind to a big smaddy in society. But Ma Taffy would have understood the principal’s integrity; the old woman would have heard it from the very beginning, from the stuttered sound of the car engine approaching the house-and Ma Taffy would have respected this big warm enough society for having willingly made herself small in the presence of a small woman like herself.

P.185 His tears made the world blurry.

P.186 He continued hiccuping, but the waaaaaaing siren had ceased. Already he was falling into the silence he would never escape from, which is not to say that he became news. Rather, he was folding himself into himself. He was learning how to become withdrawn and surly. He was learning how to be defeated. And once learnt, it was the lesson Kaia would find it impossible to unlearn.

P.187 “You is a lion. Just like Ma Taffy. Just like me. We is Lions, Kaia. Conquering lions. I not saying you mustn’t be upset, and I not saying you mustn’t cry either. But whenever something bad happen, you just touch your natty locks and remind yourself that you is a lion. We stronger than all the bullshit that happen around us. You understand me?”

P.205 “You are part of the system.” “And what does that even mean?” “It means that people like you look down on people like Ma Taffy. Or people like me. You look down on the way we talk, the kind of clothes we wear, on everything… That is the system. That is Babylon.”

P.209 Gina thought briefly about telling him about her missed periods, but decided against it. It would transform her in his eyes. She would no longer be the girl from Augustown, the bright gyal from the ghetto who defied all of his expectations. Instead she would be the girl from August town who confirmed them-the ghetto gyal who tried to tie down a nice uptown boy with her belly, who had tried to rob him of his rightful future.

P.213 … it was the way she had taken down every blasted book off his shelves, his books-books he hadn’t read himself and probably never would read, and had read them from cover to cover, when she should have waited her turn… here was a young woman who did not know her place.

P.221 she recognises him the way we recognise people in dreams who sometimes wear different faces.

P.221 She kisses his cheek. It tastes of salt.

P.229 The sun is lowering itself, and Augustown is bathed in the red light o evening

P.230 what she feels is nothing, but a kind of nothing that is full of everything, the way the colour black is full of every colour… what she feels is the colour red of evening.

P.232 Let the mongrel dogs settle into the potholes where they sleep. Let the music of speaker boxes play sweet reggae music and let the guns bark.

Excerpts from The Fire Next Time 

My book club is reading The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. Here I set my thoughts and excerpt selections for our discussion.

P.18 “They began to care less about the way they looked, the way they dressed, the things they did; presently, one found them in twos and threes and fours, in a hallway, sharing a jug of wine or a bottle of whiskey, talking, cursing, fighting, sometimes weeping: lost, and unable to say what it was that oppressed them, except that they knew it was ‘the man’ –the white man.”

P.20-21 “One would never defeat one’s circumstances by working and saving one’s pennies; one would never,by working, acquire that many pennies, and, besides, the social treatment accorded even the most successful Negroes proved that one needed, in order to be free, something more than a bank account. One needed a handle, a lever, a means of inspiring fear. It was absolutely clear that the police would whip you and take you in as long as they could get away with it, and that everyone else – housewives, taxi drivers, elevator boys, dishwashers, bartenders, lawyers, judges, doctors, and grocers-would never, by operation of any generous human feeling, cease to use you as an outlet for his frustrations and hostilities. Neither civilized reason nor Christian love would cause any of those people to treat you as they presumably wanted to be treated; only the fear of your power to retaliate would cause them to do that, or seem to do it, which was (and is) good enough.”

P.22 “…white people, who had robbed black people of their liberty and who profited by this theft every hour that they lived, had no moral ground on which to stand. They had the judges, the juries, the shotguns, the law- in a word, power. But it was a criminal power, to be feared but not respected, and to be outwitted in any way whatever.”

P.23 I did not intend to allow the white people of this country to tell me who I was, and limit me that way, and polish me off that way. And yet, of course at the same time, I was being spat on and defined and described and limited, and could have been polished off with no effort whatever.”

P.25 “Negroes in this country – and Negroes do not, strictly or legally speaking, exist in any other – are taught really to despise themselves from the moment their eyes open on the world. This world is white and they are black. White people hold the power, which means that they are superior to blacks (intrinsically, that is: God decreed it so), and the world has innumerable ways of making this difference known and felt and feared. Long before the Negro child perceives this difference, and even longer before he understands it, he has begun to react to it, he has begun to be controlled by it. Every effort made by the child’s elders to prepare him for a fate from which they cannot protect him causes him secretly, in terror, to begin to await, without knowing that he is doing so, his mysterious and inexorable punishment. He must be ‘good’ not only in order to please his parents and not only to avoid being punished by them; behind their authority stands another, nameless and impersonal, infinitely harder to please, and bottomlessly cruel.”

P.26 “A child cannot, thank Heaven, know how fast and how merciless is the nature of power, with what unbelievable cruelty people treat each other.”

P.27 “That summer, in any case, all the fears with which I had grown up, and which were now a part of me and control my vision of the world, rose up like a wall between the world and me, and drove me into the church.”

P.34 “I was forced, reluctantly, to realize that the Bible itself had been written by men, and translated by men out of languages I could not read, and I was already, without quite admitting it to myself, terribly involved with the effort of putting words on paper. Of course, I had the rebuttal ready: these men had all been operating under divine inspiration. Had they? All of them?”

P.39 behave with love towards others 

P.42-43 Something very sinister happens to the people of the country when they begin to distrust their own reactions as deeply as they do here and become as joyless as they have become. It is this individual uncertainty on the part of white American men and women, this inability to renew themselves at the fountain of their own lives, that makes the discussion, let alone elucidation, of any conundrum – that is, any reality – so supremely difficult. The person who distrusts himself has no touchstone for reality – for this touchstone can be only oneself. Such a person interposes between himself and reality nothing less than a labyrinth of attitudes. And these attitudes, furthermore, though the person is usually on aware of it (is unaware of so much!), are historical and public attitudes… Therefore, whatever white people do not know about Negros reveals, precisely and inexorably what they do not know about themselves.

P.44 …America and all the western nations will be forced to re-examine themselves and release themselves from many things that are now taken to be sacred, and to discard nearly all the assumptions that have been used to justify their lives and their anguish and the crimes so long.

P.51. …the Christian world has revealed itself as morally bankrupt and politically unstable.

P.54 You must consider what happens to this citizen [veteran] after all he has endured when he returns – home: search, in his shoes, for a job, for a place to live; ride, in his skin, on segregated buses; see, with his eyes the signs saying “white” and “colored”…; look into the eyes of his wife; look into the eyes of his son; listen, with his ears, to political speeches, north and south; imagine yourself being told to “wait.”

P.54-55 O’Hare airport bar discrimination and anger.

P.56 …in the end, it is the threat of universal extinction hanging over all the world today that changes, totally and forever, the nature of reality and brings into devastating question the true meaning of man’s history. We human beings now have the power to exterminate ourselves; this seems to be the entire sum of our achievement.

P. 58 In the United States, violence and heroism have been made synonymous except when it comes to blacks… very few liberals have any notion of how long, how costly, and how heartbreaking a task it is to gather the evidence that one can carry into court, or how long such court battles take.

P. 68 For the horrors of the American Negroes live there has been almost no language. The privacy of his experience which is only beginning to be recognized and language and witches denied or ignored in official in popular speech lends credibility to any system that pretends to clarify it. The truth about the blind man as a historical entity and as a human being has been hidden from him deliberately and Cooley the power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to except the white world’s definitions

P.71 … isn’t love more important than color?”

P.72 when power is prioritized above love, that seems to make the world worse 

P.74-75 and if i were a Muslim, I would not hesitate to utilize or indeed exacerbate the social and spiritual discontent that reigns here for at the very worst I would merely have contributed to the distruction of a house I hated and it would not matter if I perished too. one has been perishing here so long!

P.76-77 that they may walk the earth with the authority with which Whiteman walk protected by the power of that white man shall have no longer is enough on more than enough to empty prisons and polka down from heaven.

P.82 whoever debases others is debasing himself.

*P.83-84 “it is a fact that every American Negro bears a name that originally belonged to the white man whose chattel he was. I am called Baldwin because I was either sold by my African tribe or kidnapped out of it into the hands of a white Christian named Baldwin who forced me to kneel at the foot of the cross. I am then both visibly and legally the descendent of slaves in a white protestant country and this is what it means to be an American Negro”

P.85 One can give nothing whatever without giving oneself that is to say risking oneself. If one cannot risk oneself then one is simply incapable of giving. and after all one can give freedom only by setting someone free. this, in the case of the Negro, the American republic has never become sufficiently mature to do.

P.86 had it been a matter of love or justice the 1954 decision would surely have occurred sooner; were it not for the realities of power in this difficult era it might very well not have occurred yet.

P.87 The Negroes of this country may never be able to rise to power but they are very well-placed indeed to precipitate chaos and Bring down the curtain on the American dream.

P.88 we are controlled here by our confusion far more than we know and the American dream has therefore become something much more closely resembling a nightmare…

P.89-90 we should certainly know by now that it is one thing to overthrow a dictator or repel an invader and quite another thing really to achieve a revolution. Time and time and time again the people discover that they have nearly betrayed them selves into the hands of yet another Pharaoh.

P.90 we are capable of bearing a great burden, once we discover that the burden is reality and arrive where reality is. anyway the point here is that we are living in an age of revolution, whether we will or no, and America is the only western nation with both the power and, as I hope to suggest, the experience that may help to make these revolutions real and minimize the human damage. Any attempts we make to oppose these outbursts of energy is tantamount to signing our death warrant.

P.91 One is responsible to life: it is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come into which we shall return. one must negotiate this passage as nobly as possible, for the sake of those who are coming after us. but white Americans to not believe in death, and this is why the darkness of my skin so intimidates them.

P.91 -92it is the responsibility of free men to trust and celebrate what is constant – birth, struggle and death are constant , and so is the love, though we may not always think so- and to apprehend the nature of change, to be able and willing to change. I speak of change not on the surface but in the depths- change in the sense of renewal. But renewal becomes impossible if one supposes things to be constant that are not- safety, for example, or money, or power. one clings then to chimeras, by which one can only be betrayed, and the entire Hope- the entire possibility- of freedom disappears. and by distruction I mean precisely the abdication by Americans of any effort to really be free.

P.92 … White Americans have never in all their long history been able to look on him as a man like themselves. this point need not be labored it has proved over and over again by the Negro’s continuing position here, and his indescribable struggle to defeat the stratagems that white Americans have used, and use, to deny him his humanity.

P.92-93 what it comes to is that if we, who can scarcely be considered a white nation, persist in thinking of ourselves as one, we condemn ourselves, with the truly white nations, to sterility and decay, whereas if we could except ourselves as we are, we might bring new life to western achievements, and transform them. the price of this transformation is the unconditional freedom of the Negro; it is not too much to say that he, Who has been so long rejected, must now be embraced, and at no matter what psychic or social risk. he is the key figure in his country and the American future is precisely as bright or as dark as his. and the Negro recognizes this in a negative way. hence the question do I really want to be integrated into a burning house?

P.94 … A vast amount of the white anguish is rooted in the white man’s equally profound need to be seen as he is, to be released from the tyranny of his mirror. all of us know, whether or not we are able to admit it, the nearest can only lie that death by drowning is all that awaits one there. It is for this reason that love is so desperately sought and so cunningly avoided. love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word love here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace- not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.

P.96 White people cannot in the generality be taken as models of how to live. rather the white man is himself in sore need of new standards which will release him from his confusion and placed him once again in fruitful communion with the depths of his own being.

P.97 this past the Negroes past of rope fire torture castration infanticide rape death and humiliation fear by day and night here as deep as the marrow of the bone doubt that he was worthy of life since everyone around him denied it sorrow for his women for his kinfolk for his children who needed his protection and whom he could not protect rage hatred and murder hatred for white men so deep that it off and turned against him and his own and made all love all trust all joy impossible this past this and less struggle to achieve and review and confirm a human identity human authority yet contains for all its horror something very beautiful.

P.99 it demands great spiritual resilience not to hate the hater whose foot is on your neck and an even greater miracle of perception and charity not to teach your child to hate.

P.100 The American Negro has the great advantage of never having believed that collection of myths to which white Americans cling: that their ancestors were all freedom loving heroes, that they were born in the greatest country in the world has ever seen, or that Americans are invincible in battle and wise in peace, that Americans have always dealt honorably with Mexicans and Indians and all other neighbors… The tendency has really been insofar as this was possible to dismiss white people as the slightly mad victims of their own brainwashing.

P.103. Color is not a human or a personal reality it is a political reality.

Poems for Processing 9-2-2016

We were all a little on edge from the wasps yesterday.
The workflow was steady and patrons needed attention.
Friday at the library is supposed to be my chill day.
But at breaktime, I was working circ.
Making a library card while answering the phone.
My volunteer waited patiently at circ. for the sewing kit.
Later, I treated him to restaurant food.

He told me a SWAT team burst into his home.
Their flash grenades dirtied his ears
so he had to wash them clean with water.
The dog left the room without him.
The dog never leaves the room without him.
SWAT kicked his dog.
SWAT arrested his dad.
SWAT handcuffed him.
He was nine at the time.

Absorbing warmth from the sunlight,
so natural for me to do.
Forcing handcuffs on children,
so natural for SWAT to do.
The way authority
oppresses my patrons
and you and me
so naturally.

Infographics in Classrooms and Libraries

There’s a lot of discussion in my YALSA course online about encouraging teens to experiment with infographics to aide in the internalization, comprehension, and interpretation of facts, stats, and data. Some sites allow you to create infographics for free using drag & drop elements and WYSIWYG editing. We watched a helpful intro to infographics tutorial created by Linda Braun. These are a few free infographic generators we’ve been playing with:

easel.ly – still a bit buggy in beta, but has loads of potential
Piktochart – best, so far, in terms of usability
infogr.am – allows you to add video to your infographics

My tweens have asked me to help them create timelines in the past. I tried one of the timeline templates on easel.ly, but I would wait for a few usability upgrades before recommending it. These sites would be useful for making simple outlines. You CAN add paragraphs of text to an infographic, but you probably shouldn’t because it makes the infographic look cluttered. It can liven up a standard timeline of events; my unfinished Women’s Suffrage in America timeline on Piktochart.

There was also talk of the unique features each of these tools offer.  We all find ourselves visiting different online sites to utilize that one digital tool we have come to rely on.

In addition to the myriad academic applications of infographics, there appears to be some job seeking/career building applications to these DIY data galleries. The easily formattable drag-and-drop elements remind me of a more visually exciting version of a resume builder.

Resume of Dwight K. Schrute, III of The Office (American TV Series)

Resume of Dwight K. Schrute, III of The Office (American TV Series)


A teen could play around with the idea of a resume in these infographic creators. This medium of displaying professional qualifications would make it easier for individuals to display their digital badges.

Examples of Digital Badges you would find in a library nerd's portfolio ;)

Examples of Digital Badges you would find in a library nerd’s portfolio 😉

Talking Teens, Libraries, and Creation

Tellagami is a short video generator that allows you to animate a customizable avatar. Below is my forum response for my online course – RE: Tellagami and Teens.

What was it like to create the content on Tellagami?

Tellagami, Animoto, and Vine are not compatible with my old Android smartphone, but Tellagami did work on my tablet. The free Tellagami app doesn’t overload you with choices and features – just a few styles for your avatar. I was satisfied with the simplicity of limited style choices. This app kept crashing when I tried to upload a custom background, but the doodle background feature worked well for me. I wish there was a gallery of my completed Gamis, but perhaps this will come with a software update. Tellagami is sorta buggy now, but it should improve over time. Tellagami has all the tools we need to create and share funny and cool looking short digital videos.

My Gamis:

An excerpt of Go, Dog, Go by P.D. Eastman


What did the content creation make you think about in relation to teen needs and interests?

In addition to everyones’ great ideas i.e. library promos, book teasers, informational videos, silly videos with strange voices, practicing storyboarding and collaborative work, and expressive messages, I want to try Tellagami Poetry with my teens! Creating and sharing my Shel Silverstein Gami felt like a beautiful beginning to a healthy library program series of teens creating and sharing Gamis of their favorite poems and quotes. I have not yet attempted a voice recording for my Gami – I applaud the creative and brave individuals who have! I know that my teens will love to hear their own voice coming from an avatar, so I plan on experimenting with this recording feature very soon. I am really inspired by the voice experimentation ideas discussed here.

I know my teens are used to creating avatars with more custom choices for clothing and hairstyles, but I really think the custom backgrounds and voice recording will bring enough appeal to the Tellagami app for teens to create with on their own time. In YOUmedia, I find myself reteaching Photoshop to my teens over and over again because of the steep learning curve Photoshop brings with it. Even iMovie takes a few practice trials to remember how to import your video, adjust your audio track, add titles/captions, and export and share your movie. Because Tellagami only gives you a few custom choices, you feel comfortable to experimenting more with what “little” variety there is. It’s so quick and simple, teens could create 6+ videos in an hour if they wanted to; teens could build a Tellagami portfolio in no time. Mitch Resnick, from this weeks assigned TED talk, mentions that learning programming language (steep learning curve, need time to create quality content, but powerful results) opens up new forms of self-expression for youth. Learning Tellagami isn’t half as challenging as learning to code, but it is a new tool teens can use to express themselves or collaborate with others and share.

I encouraged one of my teens to download Tellagami today but, like my old smartphone, Tellagami was not compatible with her old smartdevice. It was her birthday today, so as a consolation prize I offered to print a color image for her – she chose “Michael Jackson Bad Era.” What I’m trying to say here is that we need more devices at our library that are compatible with the newest content creation software – mobile devices are really convenient for these on-the-fly, one-off activities. I only dare to dream of tablets (with select apps) mounted in our public library spaces i.e.

tablet table at your local library

Although YOUmedia already brings gaming consoles into the library, so we’re really not too far off from democratizing access to other 21st century technologies for patrons of all ages.

How can and should the library support teens in content creation?

Libraries should provide access to these creative technologies; and librarians should continue to watch the web for new trends in social, content creation apps, while simultaneously testing out apps like we would a good teen book series. With the right tools, librarians and other teen staff can teach teens to use these emerging apps. We should also learn from teens about which content creation apps they use at school and at home, in order to facilitate more connected learning opportunities in our libraries. Even the most understaffed libraries can facilitate opportunities for teens to plan and lead their own interest-driven clubs and workshops in the library. When we encourage teens to play, create, and share with technology in our libraries, we’re giving them tools to express themselves in new ways. Many of my teens default to violence in response to cyberbullying or general frustration, so my library branch (with a YOUmedia center and a dedicated teen librarian) is an ideal place to discover alternative methods of self-expression.

Elevator Pitch to Parents about Video Games

Here’s my attempt at an elevator speech to parents about the value of video games. This will be a helpful soundbite if parents ever need to know why some video gaming can be a valuable use of time; or if Chicago Public Library ever circulates video games.

Sometimes I feel like teens don’t want to have a conversation unless I’m talking with them about their interests, such as video games. It’s amazing how a teen’s attitude transforms when you’re listening to him/her reliving all of the work they put into playing a video game. Teens are proud of how they’ve leveled up in a game; they’re proud of how they learned the rules and the controls and how they lead their character to victory, they’re proud of how they’ve won a trophy for making a smart decision. Some modern video games even tell interactive stories about the consequences of violence and war. Many video games test reasoning skills and ask you to solve puzzles. I see teens at the library creating designs and building structures in video games. If your teen enjoys playing video games, try playing a multiplayer game with them because games are great for bonding with people too. We can search commonsensemedia.org right now for video games by academic subject, learning rating, and skills applied in the game. Or we could check out YOUmedia’s game selection right now!

Video Game Design at the Library

Video Game Design Program

Outcomes/Goals of the Project

  • Engaging teens in online video game creation.
  • Storytelling through video games.

Why I Think Video Game Design is Good for Teens?

  • Teens play video games (on their phones, tablets, computers, and game consoles)
  • While many teens consume video game media, they do not know how to create their own games
  • Some youth have asked me how they can make a video game
  • Video game design, using in-browser platforms, can lead to an interest in computer programming or web design
  • Creating a video game follows the production centered aspect of connected learning
  • Teens can share their video games with peers or on social media

Involving Teens in the Process/Project
Ever since Amy Koester, the Show Me Librarian, gave a presentation about Unprogramming for teens, I’ve been dying to test out the process with assistance from teen volunteers or my core group of teens.
The Unprogramming Potion:

  • Ice Breaker – bringing groups together
  • Library tie-in – books/library resources on display
  • Stations of stuff – a variety of activities available
  • Social time – allow them time to talk even if they’re not doing the activity
  • Food – if you’ve provided food in for past programs, this can be a stumbling block when you don’t have it

I don’t know if the unprogramming model works for the level of geeking out required for an intense session of game design, but I like to draw from aspects of unprogramming for all teen programs. Of course in a video game design workshop, teens are directly involved in project creation from dreaming to publication. Perhaps teens would like to help you plan and prepare for all aspects of the program. Perhaps the teens want to present the website demonstrations – or run the workshop completely…!?

What Technology/Support Needs To Get this Started (the YOUmedia space and equipment are really perfect for this program)

  • Computers/laptops with updated browsers
  • Internet connection
  • Projector/display for game design website demonstration. The game design websites I’ve been using a lot this month are Scratch, Sploder, Space Zombies on Tynker.com
  • 1 or 2 staff/volunteers who can assist with questions. Try the “Ask 3 then me” model.
  • I also like to have video game interest/career books on display
  • Providing Storyboarding worksheets

Measuring Success
I would measure success by:

  • number of teens engaged in video game creation
  • number of games shared with peers onsite and online
  • As discussed in my YALSA course: increase in skill level, “observation of active engagement, enthusiasm, and demonstration of understanding of the tool and the content.”
  • Were teens able to communicate a story through their game?
  • If ever a pathway is created to earn a badge, this could be another measure of success
  • Seeing tweens/teens in the library playing games created by friends and creating their own games
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