When technology fails you

Have you ever had technology fail you? I’m sure you have. There’s no way that it hasn’t at this point. But have you ever had it fail you in front of hundreds of teenagers and your colleagues? During a major event you’ve planned for months? Well, that’s what happened to me last week, and it was kind of horrible. Did we all survive… even me? Yes. But boy, would I have liked to have avoided THAT.

We have an annual Battle of the Books at our school in which we use clickers for the students to buzz in with. We had a record number of students participate this year, around 140, which was wonderful, but it meant the auditorium was packed tight. I borrowed a set of clickers from another school because I know our clickers are older and not that dependable. I wanted to make sure everything was going to go smoothly. Well, little did I know…

The day of the Battle I was buzzing around, getting everything ready, making sure everything was in place. We were going to do three rounds of 12 teams each to accommodate the large size, so we only checked about 15 of the 25 or so clickers. Big mistake!

Almost as soon as the Battle started, we were having some technical difficulties. Some of the teams said they were buzzing in, but their answers weren’t registering. I was a little skeptical, so I told them how to correctly input their answers again and reminded them to be patient. But then it kept happening. So, I decided to just switch out the faulty clickers for different ones. Well, the more that didn’t work, the more we pulled, and then we started realizing that the latter half of the set didn’t work at all. Some even had corroded batteries! I had borrowed a set thinking I was getting a better deal than what I had– joke was on me!

I have to say I panicked internally, but after pausing and thinking for a few minutes (not to mention one awesome student who was cooly and logically brainstorming solutions with me), we decided to do it old school: paper and pencil!

As much as I love technology, I mean, my name on here is Techno Librarian Kate, sometimes the simple way is the best way. Once we did it paper and pencil everything went smoothly. It took a little longer to grade them of course, but it worked and we had no technical difficulties.

Lessons learned: It never hurts to be REALLY overly prepared, always be ready for anything to go wrong, be flexible, and always have paper and pencil ready!


Tough topics

Laurie Halse Anderson has created a list of some great choices for teens (and us adults) dealing with difficult topics, such as drug addiction, death, and alienation. I’m happy to say┬áI have most of these in my media center already, but it’s nice to see them compiled together to make it easier to help make good suggestions to my students.


That’s what I love about books- they’re a wonderful way to remind you that you’re not alone, no matter what you’re going through. You can escape and connect through the characters’ experiences, all judgment-free.

Two of my favorites of all time, American Born Chinese and The Fault in Our Stars, are on here, as well as some I’m dying to read, like Eleanor & Park. It’s sitting on my desk… now to find the time!