Thursday, December 6, 2018

Teaching Students to Avoid the Pitfalls of Copyright Infringement

Today's students are creating more and more digital products such as videos, podcasts, slide presentations and e-books for their classroom assignments.  Once established, these products are often shared with others either through file-sharing platforms or social media and file sharing platforms.  To make these products, students often rely on digital content such as images, photos, and music found online with no thought as to whether or not this legal.  In this rapidly growing digital age, it's essential to teach students how to navigate the sea of copyrighted material found online.

Here is a great video that explains copyright and fair use.

Here are some tips for helping students to avoid the pitfalls of copyright infringement.  

Use your own stuff

Try making your own illustrations, drawings, and music.
  • Hand draw or paint pictures then snap a photo or scan them
  • Use programs such as MS Paint, Google Drawings, Adobe Spark, Canva, Autodraw, and Adobe Photoshop
  • Use your own snapshots

Use Public Domain Digital Content

These digital files are free to use for school projects.  Please double check restrictions before using.
  • Creative Commons Images
  • StockSnap
  • Good Free Photos
  • Pexels Videos
  • Flickr Commons
  • Pixabay

Use BLA Library Resources

Visit our database page, and you will find these resources for you to use.
  • Artstor
  • Soundzabound

Buy Digital Images and Music

Just because you buy digital content doesn't always mean that you have permission to copy it.  It's essential to always double check the restrictions.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Library Orientation-Breakout EDU Style

At the beginning of each year librarians around the U.S. gear up for library orientation.  It's a time to introduce themselves to students and discuss the resources and services available in the library.  In past years this usually included a PowerPoint of some kind and students passively listening.  This year the BLA librarians have taken library orientation to the next level with Breakout EDU.

If you aren't familiar with BreakoutEDU, you must remedy that immediately by watching the video below.  BreakoutEDU is an educational tool that helps students utilize critical thinking skills within a collaborative group to unlock a series of locks to essentially "break open" the locked boxes.

Watch this video to learn more about BreakoutEDU.

Putting together our library orientation game was a collaborative effort among all STISD librarians.  We started with the lesson plan template provided by BreakoutEDU and then developed a story that gave students a reason for "breaking open" the boxes.

Once the game design was complete, we did a run through to make sure that the clues given were in the right sequence.

On the first day of orientation, we introduced ourselves and then immediately jumped into putting the students into groups.  We created 5 teams and each team had their very own BreakoutEDU kit.  The only things the students had were two clues, a UV light, and two locked boxes.  It was up to the group members to decide how they would use the clues.  As the groups worked through the clues, they utilized our library's resources to uncover more clues which then led to even more clues to unlock the locks.  We offered very little help to the students and encouraged them to lean on their teammates for help.

At times the students experienced frustration when they couldn't decipher the meaning of a clue.  As facilitators, we encouraged the students to persist by looking at the clues in a new way.  It's a great life lesson for anyone to learn.  It takes persistence to overcome life's obstacles.  Once the students unlocked a lock, it was difficult to contain their "hoopin' and hollerin'".  It gave them a sense of accomplishment along with a belief in themselves that they could overcome any difficult task presented to them.

It is well worth trying BreakoutEDU in your next class, meeting or library orientation.  The students reported back that they really enjoyed the experience.  Why not try something new? 

If you need help getting started, feel free to email us at

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

What BLA Librarians Can Do for You

As teachers, there are many demands on your time.  Your BLA librarians (Ann, Sara & Mary) are eager to assist you with your instructional goals.  


  • Databases
    • Research Skills
    • From a quick overview to an in-depth lesson, we'll work with your classes to help them find the best resources possible for any project.
  • Citations
    • When your students are working on anything that needs citations, let us teach the citation lesson for you before they get too far along in the project.
  • Technology integration
    • Tutorials
    • Recommendations
    • Co-teaching
    • Digital citizenship
  • Makerspace activities that correlate to your instructional unit
    • The Origami and Gyotaku (Japanese fish painting) Lesson was a hit with Social Studies teachers and their students when they were studying Japan.
  • AP/SAT/ACT Test Prep and Shmoop
    • Let us help you set up classes to track your students' practice and teach your students how to use the platforms.
  • Poster design
    • Powerpoint
    • Photoshop
  • Moviemaker
  • Apps - Overdrive, Goosechase, Kahoot, Padlet, etc.
  • Classes just for teachers - demos, etc.

Other Services

  • BreakoutEDU - Students use teamwork and critical thinking with content-aligned clues to solve a series of challenging puzzles in order to open the locked box.  Games are available for all content areas.
  • Book talks in your classroom
    • We'll read book excerpts or provide audiobook clips to interest your students in reading.
  • Little Classroom Libraries
    • Small collections of books(5-7) on any topic for teachers to display in their rooms and check out to students to promote reading in their classes.
  • The Next Chapter Book Club
    • We meet in the elab for lunch (on us!) four times a year.  You and your students are invited to join us.  More than just a discussion.
  • Battle of the Books
    • Ne format in conjunction with Region One.
  • Displays!
    • We love to display student work in the library.  We have 6 lockable, glass display cases and the tops of our low bookshelves.  We can also hang work in the rotunda.
  • Order books, videos, and more for you and your students to check out or use in the library.

Contact us at to start collaborating today.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Change is a good thing.

We made some changes to our library and we hope you will agree that change is a good thing.  


Finding what you need for your next project is easier with these new storage bins. 


Yea!  We have more space now.   

Art Prints

Browse the art prints on this wall and check them out for a 3 month period.

Quiet Study Room

Need a calm, quiet place to study?  Visit our Quiet Study Area.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Breakout EDU

Have you heard about Breakout EDU?  
It's a really fun and interactive teaching tool that promotes collaboration, critical thinking and loads of fun.

Watch a video about Breakout EDU.

Here are some pictures of our teachers who participated in our first Breakout EDU lesson.

If you are interested, contact us:

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

STISD Battle of the Books District Level Competition

Congratulations to our winning teams!

They will represent STISD at the Region 1 Battle of the Books Competition 
 February 14 & 15 in Edinburg.

STISD High School Battle of the Books Champions
Team McCormick from Medical Academy

STISD Middle School Battle of the Books Champions
Team Moreno from South Texas Preparatory Academy