Thursday, December 13, 2018

Lots of Learning Happening in the Library!

Freshman Health: Freshman health classes are close reading about stress, completing research journals, synthesizing information and expressing new understandings about stress and the health triangle: mental, physical and emotional well-being. They are also self-reflecting and using teacher and peer feedback to revise work. The health teachers and the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) team are collaborating to integrate both health and ICT standards in lessons, using the WISER Research Process, whereby students Wonder, Investigate, Synthesize, Express and Reflect. Students are using technology to present findings on how to manage stress, as they create a hypothetical book by a reputable author on stress and video tape an original book review using Book Creator.

Students self-assess, use feedback, revise and edit work.

Students use Book Creator to design a book cover
and video tape an original book review about
stress and how to manage it.

Makerspace Activity:  
Earth Science students researched an element and created pictorial representations of various elements.
Civics students created an informational poster on the Marshall Court.

Psychology students were developing a study on color and emotions.

TechXperts: NCHS TechXperts are available to help with digital learning needs. They offer tech support for teachers and students. They also create tutorials and instructional materials. 

Visitor from Newtown School District:  A library media specialist from the Newtown School District visited NCHS to check out the Makerspace and engage in academic conversation with the ICT team.

Friday, November 16, 2018

It's Cold Outside but the Library is Heating up with Activities

Book Mingling: In English, sophomores started second quarter by visiting the library for booktalks and to share what they read last quarter. Through these conversations, students are introduced to a wide range of books which promotes independent reading. While students take notes during booktalks, the librarians also publish featured book lists on THE ANNEX@. Absent students can check online to see what they missed. As we remember our Veterans, one popular choice has been Left for Dead: A Young Man's Search for Justice for USS Indianapolis by Pete Nelson. This is the true story of how Hunter Scott's sixth grade history project on the Indianapolis resulted in him becoming involved with exonerating the ship's captain in any wrongdoing in the tragic sinking of the ship in WWII. Scott was only eleven when he heard of the sinking of the ship while watching Jaws. The book tells the story of what happened when the ship was torpedoed by the Japanese, the heroism of those Navy men, and the quest for justice to clear the name of the captain.

Junior Research: Libraians are collaborating with English teachers to guide juniors through the research process of WISER. Students Wonder by asking questions, Investigate by locating, accessing and evaluating sources, and Synthesize by reading across texts, taking notes, and forming new understandings. Students complete a Research Journal as a way to stay organized and gather ideas. Students Express by presenting a thesis with support, and Reflect by using feedback to revise and self-assess progress. 

Design Thinking in the Makerspace:  Mr. Riley's Earth Science students designed a Lander (or vessel) to prevent an egg from breaking when dropped from a considerable height. Students created a sketch and then designed a prototype in the makerspace. Next, they tested their Lander to see how effective their design was in protecting the egg during the drop.

3-D Constellations: Mr. Haag's astronomy class made 3-D constellations. Students had to demonstrate that our perspective of constellations is specific to our location in the galaxy. If our location changes then our "view" of a constellation will change also. On graph paper, students drew a constellation, such as the Big Dipper, as it appears from Earth. Students figured out scaled distances from the Earth. From a "top view" and from a "side view" the constellation will look totally different.

President Wilson in the Makerspace: Students in Mr. Staffaroni's history class were learning about President Wilson, the last of the Progressive Presidents who served from 1913-1921. Student were charged with determining how to best represent President Wilson's accomplishments.

Professional Development in the Makerspace: On Professional Development day, the ICT Team took time to discuss the book Launch: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student by educators John Spencer and A.J. Juliana. Teachers had a chance to use the makerspace to experience the launch cycle for design thinking.

Images used with permission from author.

Earn those Modern Language Association (MLA) Badges to Become MLA 8 Certified:  Freshman in Mrs. Brown's English class are earning their MLA 8 badges, indicating they understand how to cite a source properly.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Databases? We use them!

As we move into budget season, we are taking a close look at our students' database use. We are pleased to report that our overall database use is growing at an outstanding pace. We attribute this to several factors:
  • We introduced meta searching in 2015. EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) cross-searches 60 of our 67 databases. Students enter their search terms in a search box on the home page and connect to their results with one click. 
  • We set up single sign on (SSO) authentication, which means that students do not need to log in to individual databases so long as they are logged into their school Google account in the same browser. Before SSO was implemented, username and password inquiries were those most frequently texted to the library. Eliminating that barrier has made it exponentially easier for students to access these valuable resources. 
  • Databases cite sources for students. Students find that piecing together website citations is complicated and using resources that provide citations streamlines their inquiry process. 
  • The content is vetted, and once they master the tricky business of crafting advanced searches, they appreciate the search refinement features that our database cross-searching tool (EBSCO Discovery Service) offers.
Our overall database usage increased by 20% between 2017 and 2018 

Individual database use is also trending upwards by 34% since introducing SSO
ProQuest National Newspapers 
In 2018, student use of ProQuest National Newspapers, a database that cross searches the six following daily newspapers increased by 95% over 2017 and 65% over 2016.

  • Christian Science Monitor
  • Boston Globe
  • Hartford Courant
  • New York Times
  • Wall Street Journal
  • Washington Post

Friday, October 19, 2018

Fall is a Flurry of Library Activity

Digital Wellness: The ICT Team has been collaborating with the health teachers to co-teach lessons on digital wellness. Freshman students explored how impulse control and decision making influence what you do online. Strategies for creating a positive digital profile were discussed.

Club Fair: Students prepared for the Club Fair by creating signs for their sign-up booth. The library advises the Somewhat Virtual Book Club (#SWVBC).  This is the NCHS book discussion group. New Canaan High School's club members meet face-to-face at the high school library on the first Wednesday of the month at 6 P.M. to discuss a pre-selected book. Pizza is served. During club meetings, the NCHS club connects virtually through Zoom with schools in other states to exchange ideas.  The next meeting is November 7, 2018. Also, the library sponsors S.T.E.A.M. Team.  The student-led S.T.E.A.M. club combines robotics, circuitry and coding with art. Members are challenged to invent and innovate to pursue their passions and to share their learning in the Makerspace.

Makerspace Sightings: Some students in Global II have been using the Makerspace to create a monument for an Enlightened philosopher. Students had to decide where the monument would be placed and defend their position why that thinker should be memorialized.  Others created an original representation of a philosopher. Also, students in U.S. History used the Makerspace to portray Teddy Roosevelt's Square Deal, including the creation of the FDA and the regulation of the railroad. Additionally, students in Interior Design class created mood boards.

Global I Research :  Freshman in Global I are learning how to access NCHS Library databases to do research on an ancient civilization. They are working to complete the Anatomy of a Civilization whereby various parts of the body represent different areas of PERSIA + GT. (Political, Economics, Religion, Social, Intellectual, Aesthetics and Technology).  The NCHS Library Homepage allows students to easily access databases as long as they sign into their Google Drive. Simply put a keyword in the search box widget.

MLA 8 Badges: Freshman are earning their MLA 8 citation badges by watching short tutorials on how to cite sources correctly and taking a quiz. Citing sources is a skill sure to be used throughout students' academic careers.  A total of 15 badges can be earned covering proper formatting and the various parts of a citation. Sophomores who need to complete the tutorials may do so.

Junior Research Paper:  Juniors in Mrs. Magilnick's class are submitting a research question on a topic of interest. The English teacher and the librarians are giving feedback on questions and conferring with students.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Students Pursue their Passions at the Library!

Club Fair is an event we look forward to because the library program can help students pursue their passions. On this year's club fair poster, we included photos of students making in our maker space, using our virtual reality lab, discussing books with students from schools in other states. On our sign up form, we asked students to check which aspects of the library clubs' offerings interested them. Here is the list:
  • Maker Majors
  • Techxperts
  • Somewhat Virtual Book Club
  • S.T.E.A.M. Team
  • VR Lab Facilitating
  • Other

NCHS Students and students from New Jersey and South Carolina meet Author Mike Belanger

We launched our makerspace in the fall of 2015. It has been through quite a series of transformations over the past three years, and this year is no exception. The slide show below showcases some of these changes. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Library off to a Sizzling Start in September!

Multi-functional library zones: Students are taking advantage of having a place to eat, meet up with other classmates and use resources.  The library has different zones for creating, virtualizing, eating, collaborating, focusing, and of course, teaching.  Students have been finding the niche that works best for them.

Practicing circuitry
Discovering the VR lab
Food is permitted in the #uppperlib only
Social learning in the #lowerlib
Focusing is important too!
We have lots of flexible teaching spacing

Makerspace Reorganization Update: The final details of the makerspace reorganization is coming to fruition, and students are assisting to make sure items are in their proper place. Color-coded areas and labels will make accessing (and putting away) materials more efficient.

Makerspace Activity: Students are making good use of the makerspace for a variety of projects. In American Studies, students are designing brochures depicting the Founding Father's viewpoints on issues that confronted them, such as voting rights. Other students in Global II are using the makerspace to depict the many faces of absolutism. 

Intern Visit: An intern from the state of Connecticut Alternate Route to Certification (ARC) program for library media specialists spent a day shadowing us. The intern observed collaboration with social studies teachers on the research process and asked questions about how to facilitate an integrated high school library program that is standards based.

Bibliography Feedback: Librarians are explaining how to drop off bibliographies for feedback, and students are encouraged to take advantage of having the librarians check their bibliographies before submitting them to their teachers. The feedback gives students a chance to revise their work and learn how to cite correctly. Students simply attach a citation checklist and checkbric to their bibliography and drop it off at the library. The checkbric has QR codes explaining the various parts of a citation. Simply take a photo of the QR code to get the citation rules.

Open House:  Parents attended NCHS Open House on September 13th and the library was open for visiting. Parents stopped by to see the facility, check out the makerspace area, and talk to the librarians.

W.I.S.E.R. Research Process:  Various social studies classes are using the W.I.S.E.R. (Wonder, Investigate, Synthesize, Express and Reflect) research process to conduct research on Absolutism Philip II, and Why We Fight?,  Students can find the projects in The Annex on the library homepage. A project chart appears, making for easy access to the projects with just a click. Projects are color-coded by grade level.