Thanks and Farewell!

Thank you Costa!

This is my last posting on this blog. On Friday, June 17, I officially retired as  Mira Costa High School’ Teacher Librarian. I want to thank all the Mira Costa students and staff for a wonderful six years working with you. I also owe a huge thank you to my amazing library volunteers. I will miss all of you!

I also want to thank the Class of 2016 again for the incredible honor of recognizing me as a Sandacre Teacher of the Year. If you haven’t already read my thank you and open letter to Seniors posting, please do. Thanks, too, to La Vista for the articles about this honor and about my retirement. And thanks to the Mustang Morning News for including me in a story about retiring staff.

Some of you have asked what’s in store for me in “the next adventure.” I plan to enjoy more travel, more reading, and more time with family and friends.  I also plan to stay active in school library associations and networks to support school libraries, and to keep learning and sharing my learning at school library and educational technology conferences and through Twitter, my personal blog, and other social media. Please follow me on Twitter at @jane_librarian and on my personal blog, “Jane Lofton’s Adventures in School Libraryland,” at It’s been a bit of a challenge keeping two blogs going, but I hope to make my personal blog more active now that I will have just one on which to focus. You can also contact me on my personal email at

And, here’s me ready for the first stop on the “next adventure,” a trip to Scandinavia with my husband next month. The photo was taken with the library’s green screen and the Do Ink Green Screen app. Then, I added the frame and labels with Picmonkey:

fjords picmonkey


with best wishes,

Jane Lofton

A Year in the Life of the MCHS Library 2015-2016

Here is the short film I made, using Animoto software and music, with just some of the highlights of the 2015-2016 school year at our library:

I know that some of the slides go by a bit fast, making it difficult to read them. (I was limited by my Animoto account to under 3 minutes.) So, I have also uploaded all the photos I used in the video to a Flickr album. I also included a lot of other photos I wanted in the video but couldn’t fit in the time allotment. Here is the link.

June at the Library

As I write this, our Seniors have finished all their finals and will be graduating next Thursday, and our other students have just one more week, all filled with final exams, ahead. Sadly, the library at this point becomes pretty much a textbook warehouse with all the textbooks stacking up on tables and even the floor until they get checked out again in the fall. (I’ll spare you a photo of what that looks like.) Still, the beginning of June was busy as ever with library activities. Here are some highlights.

Calculus Class Videos

I wrote in the May posting about the Calculus classes coming to work on instructional videos. In the beginning of June, we all enjoyed watching the various videos as they were completed. Here are a couple of examples, one made using our green screen, and the other made using

You can see more of the Calculus videos on the library website.

Using Our Green Screen

The green screen has been very popular this month. I demonstrated how to use it with Do Ink’s Green Screen app for Ms. Nielsen’s and Mr. Nodado’s AP Chemistry classes for their video assignments, and we had students using it to make videos for those classes and for AP European History, Calculus, and ESL Support classes.

Shooting a green screen scene
Shooting a green screen scene

One of the rewarding parts of sharing new technology tools with students is seeing them apply them in other contexts. The AP European History video was created by students who learned about green screen technology for their Chemistry class. And, one of the Calculus students shared how he used the Powtoon software he learned about for an assignment an Economics class assignment. Transfer of knowledge, of course, takes many forms. One of the Calculus videos included information the students learned in their Physics class.

Ms. Clarke’s class booktalks

I also wrote in the May posting about Ms. Clarke’s class visiting the library to learn about book talks in preparation for creating book talks they posted to YouTube and created QR codes in order to share them with classmates. It was a delight on Friday to have all her students come in the library and scan the QR codes now posted all over the library to watch their classmates’ book talks. Stand by to see some of them on the library website.

Library Club SWVBC

Our Library Club held our last meeting of the year on Tuesday, June 7, and we celebrated our four graduating seniors – Yuka Noda, Joanne Qi, Danit Rich, and Crystal Yu – who have been with the club and supported it and our library programs for all four years of their time at Mira Costa. Here’s a huge thanks And, we also had a cake for my retirement. 🙂

2016-06-07 12.33.00-1

The week before, on June 1, we had our final Somewhat Virtual Book Club (#SWVBC) meeting via Google Hangouts. Other participants this month included New Canaan High School in New Canaan, CT, and James Caldwell High School in West Caldwell, NJ. Instead of our usual discussion of one book, this month was a BYOB, “Bring Your Own Book” session: everyone shared a favorite book with the group. Here’s the list of our book recommendations on Goodreads, and here’s a recording of our session:

Photography Slideshow by Lyla and Lizzie

I was delighted to have several visits by two talented Photography students, Lyla Floyd and Lizzie Tsuang. They were completing an assignment on “A Day in the Life” of one of their teachers. I was honored that they chose me as their subject. Here’s their slideshow they kindly agreed to let me share here:

Mustang Morning News and La Vista Features

I was also honored to be featured in two articles in  La Vista on June 7. Here is the article about my retirement, and here is the article about my Sandacre Teacher of the Year Award. I was also included in a Mustang Morning News story about retiring teachers on June 6. Here is a link to the story.

A Thank You and Open Letter to Mira Costa Seniors

Thank you, Seniors!

(….. And, if you are a Junior, Sophomore, or Freshman … what I’m writing really applies to you, too. …..)

I was absolutely flabbergasted and incredibly touched and honored at the Mira Costa Senior Awards Assembly on Wednesday to be recognized as one of three 2016 Sandacre Teachers of the Year. Congratulations to Aaron Braskin and Nicole Wachell, the other two. The accompanying letter from Denise Anderson, Sandacre Teacher of the Year Facilitator, states:

“The criteria for this recognition is for senior students to nominate a Mira Costa teacher who has stimulated, inspired, and/or prepared his/her students for their future studies and/or other endeavors. You, as an educator, mentor, and friend have had a strong impact on your students.”

As I approach retirement in – gulp – just two weeks, I can’t imagine a better send off or anything that could have made me feel prouder or more honored than to be recognized in this way by Mira Costa’s students. I will truly cherish this award and I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. I will also miss you all so much! I also thank the Sandacre Scholarship Fund for this honor and incredibly generous honorarium.

Before we all leave for our “next adventure” – I for retirement, and you for college, the start of a career, or a gap year of exploration – here are a few of the ways in which I have tried to prepare you and things I hope you will remember on your journey (in no particular order):

  • Always be true to yourself. Meet the requirements for your courses and studies, of course, but take advantage of college or work as an opportunity to learn what you want to learn and pursue your personal passions. It is through those that you will be fulfilled and make a difference in our world.
  • Remember that your college library or public library is an ideal place to find those resources to learn both what you need to and to pursue your passions. And, make best friends with the librarians there; they want nothing more than to assist you on your journey.
  • There are always many, many ways to get where you want to go. Don’t be discouraged if that initial route to the future, that first choice college, class, or job doesn’t come through; there are other choices that may even turn out to be better and prove a more satisfying adventure. The places you end up by accident are sometimes the best, and lots and lots of trial and error and failure along the way is pretty much essential to getting anywhere rewarding.
  • Try something new. If you’ve never made a video, challenge yourself to try out new software to make one. Read a book in different genre than you are used to. Take a course in a subject completely new to you. You’ll never know if something might prove a new interest or even a passion if you don’t try it out.
  • When you need information, don’t forget all the amazing databases available to you. We all love and use Google and Wikipedia, but you’ll be missing a whole world of quality information if you don’t take advantage of databases. Just visit your library or your library’s website to find out what’s available.
  • Never give up your searches after the first few hits. Put your detective hat on and try different terms to describe your topic and different approaches. And, as you read through the first few sources, look for new keywords you can use to help you dig deeper and find more helpful sources. Also take advantage of the bibliographies in the good sources to delve further.
  • Whatever sources you use, employ your critical thinking skills to evaluate them for quality, credibility, accuracy, currency, and appropriateness for your needs. And, remember, your local librarian is available to help you with this task.
  • Always, always give credit to those sources. Take advantage of tools like EasyBib or NoodleTools to create citations. Most of all, remember that the whole point of bibliography is not the formatting; it’s that you are giving credit and doing it in a way that will allow your reader or viewer to retrace your steps back to the source.
  • And, don’t just give credit. When you are creating a published or public online work, make sure that you are respecting intellectual property. Don’t use copyrighted material without permission unless you are doing so in a truly transformative way that can be justified as a fair use. Take advantage of the wealth of Creative Commons-licensed materials when you need images, music, and more for your creative endeavors. And, consider contributing to that body by licensing your own creative works with Creative Commons licenses. It’s easy. Just go to to find out how.
  • Develop a positive digital footprint. We all have digital footprints these days. You want yours to be the best. Put your best foot forward online. Publish your best academic work – presentations, videos, papers, and more – online. Consider blogging to showcase and reflect on your work and connect with others out in the world. And make sure you keep those moments you might not be so proud of offline. If you wouldn’t want your parents or future children to see you doing something, don’t post it.
  • Take advantage of positive social media to connect with, learn from, and share with the world. Twitter could be one of your best ways of developing a personal learning network. But, stay away from social media platforms that allow for anonymous postings. People who are proud of what they write and have something worthwhile to say are willing to own their postings.
  • Most people are good people, but not everyone is. Practice online safety. Keep your account information secure with strong passwords and don’t share them with friends. Don’t “friend” or meet people in person you don’t know in the real world. Sadly, not everyone online is who they say they are, and we all need to exercise caution to protect ourselves.
  • Always, always, be extra polite online. Never write or send anything that could be interpreted as hostile or bullying to another individual. By all means express your opinions, but only in a respectful manner that doesn’t attack another person. With the absence of body language and tone of voice, it’s so easy to misinterpret an online message as negative. Take that extra moment to check what you write every time before you send it out to the online world to make sure it’s really what you intended and not subject to a negative interpretation. Moreover, be an upstander: don’t tolerate any online or live bullying you observe; stand up for the person(s) being bullied.
  • Volunteer some of your time to make the world a better place. Building a better world happens one small act at a time. Better yet, find a way to merge your personal passions with some community service to help others.
  • And, finally, please READ! Read what you like, but read a lot and read widely. Reading is how we learn about the world, develop understanding of new concepts, visit new places far and wide both real and imaginery, find role models for ourselves, and learn empathy for others. Whatever you do, read something every day!

It makes me sad that I can’t suggest you come back and see me at the Mira Costa Library when you visit campus in the future. But, please do visit me online – on Twitter at @jane_librarian, my personal blog – Jane’s Adventures in School Library Land at, or by email at I want to hear about your adventures, and I will always be ready to answer any of your questions and support your journey.

Thank you to all of you and to your teachers for the incredible honor and privilege of serving as your teacher librarian here at Mira Costa.

receiving award
Awards Assembly photo courtesy of Mae Sinkowitz