Friday, November 3, 2017

Meet our Databases!


This has traditionally been our most popular database. We actually have to DIScourage students from using it once they get past the reference phase of their research. It has, to a large extent, replaced our print reference collection.
    1. World History The Modern Era
    2. World History Ancient and Medieval Eras
    3. World at War
    4. American History
    5. American Government
    6. World Geography
    7. Modern Genocide
    8. Daily Life
    9. World Religions
    10. Issues
    11. American Indian Experience
    12. U.S. Geography


  1. OpenAthens
OpenAthens is the third party software that enables students to log on to ALL databases simply by being logged into their account in the browser they are using to access them (see lesson). Until we subscribed to this Single Sign On (SSO) service, database use was impeded by authentication issues. Since SSO, our database usage is up by 34 percent.
  1. EBSCO Modules
    1. Points of View
This database provides opposing points of view on contemporary issues. It is similar to the New York Times’ Room for Debate and Gale’s Opposing Viewpoints in Context, but it features different content than the others. Students find these resources particularly helpful when working on OP-Ed pieces in 10th grade English and the Junior Research Papers in 11th grade.
    1. EBSCO Discovery Service
This is a service that permits students to cross-search most of our database content through one search widget. In tandem with OpenAthens, this service streamlines database searching for students and generates extremely relevant search results. It also generates fairly accurate MLA 8 citations for all its content.
    1. Academic eBook Collection
Through this collection, students have access to over 123, 000 ebook titles. The collection includes texts in world languages, highly specialized manuals and technical information as well as reference materials. It is impressively inclusive.   
    1. Flipster
This is the portal that provides our learning community with access to our online magazine collection (there’s an app for that!). The list grows a little each year. This year, it includes

The Atlantic
Automobile Magazine
Bloomberg Businessweek
Car & Driver
ESPN Magazine
Food Network Magazine
Gentleman’s Quarterly
Horse & Rider
Kiplinger’s Personal Finance
Mother Jones
Motor Trend
The New Yorker
Rolling Stone
Vanity Fair
The Week

    1. Poetry and Short Story Finder
Students searching for poems and short stories are often surprised to find that what they seek is not always available on the free Web. Authors frequently withhold their work from the open Internet to protect their intellectual property. This database provides learners with access to full-text poems and short stories. They use it 11th and 12th grade English classes.


  1. Gale is the only database provider that recognizes the limitations Library of Congress’ resource classification and chooses to label reference resources as they are: Reference. This amplifies our message that there are appropriate times in the the research process to use reference materials and that there are other times, as students move through the research model, when reference materials are inappropriate.
  2. Gale Opposing Viewpoints - Students love its interface. We gave this up for one year because we felt the state of Connecticut provided us with a similar product, but we brought it back in response to student and teacher demand.
  3. Google Classroom and Google Drive are now integrated into Gale so students can highlight and annotate their readings, create citations, and send them on to their school Google Drive account. Teachers can send articles and resources to their Google Classroom and share them with classes. It is the most seamless integration of Google into database services we have seen. We added the following modules to our collection.
  1. Gale Global Issues in Context
There is no comparable product on the market, and it is aligned with our 9th and 10th grade history curriculum
  1. Gale Literature Resource Center
Literary criticism and author biography
  1. Gale LitFinder
Similar to EBSCO’s Poetry and Short Story Finder, but more navigable interface and more K-12 aligned content
  1. Gale World History in Context
  2. Gale US History in Context
  3. Gale Science in Context


This database features copyrighted scholarly and peer-reviewed periodical articles. It is the gold standard in higher education libraries. Our students will be expected to know how to navigate its admittedly clunky interface as they move into the next phase of their academic careers. This product is integral to our learners’ high school to college transition.


We have a long and proud history of NOT using subscription resources to publish our instructional content. But our LessonPaths/Blogger combination has failed us this past year on two fronts:
  • Ad content on Blogger
  • Downtime in LessonPaths
We want to provide students with the best possible user experience when it comes to library instruction. Therefore, we are adding a subscription to LibGuides (the industry standard across K-12 and higher education libraries).


This subscription includes three very distinct modules.
  1. Oxford English Dictionary
There is no other dictionary like it, and we no longer carry it in print.
  1. Oxford Art Online
This is the only database we have that specifically targets the Visual and Performing Arts curricular program. It supports learning in 9th and 10th grade history courses as well, particularly the museum project, which asks students to defend their selections for a hypothetical museum exhibit about Mesopotamia and other River Valley civilizations.
  1. Social explorer - This database allows students to interact with demographic information through maps, charts, and graphs. It helps learners discover new strategies for consuming, mashing, and publishing census data.


After a long hiatus, we resubscribed to this service because they overhauled their interface. Newsbank allows students to cross search most English Language periodicals and news sources (including televisions and radio transcripts) from specific countries and/or regions of the world. This is an essential research tool for 9th and 10th grade English and social studies learners as they are expected to do country studies over and over again, each time from a  different perspective - not an American one. Access World News also includes regional American newspapers including local publications and these serve the Civics classes as they work on regional politics for mock elections and senate simulations. Our collection includes 3 modules:
  1. Access World News
  2. Latin American Newspapers
This historical newspaper collection is used for the Revolutionary Diaries Project (10th grade history)
  1. Foreign Bureau Information Service (FBIS)
Historical newspapers from around the world - extremely useful for point of view comparisons during world conflicts such as World Wars, civil wars, and/or genocides.


We primarily use ProQuest for its newspaper collections. These play a vital role in our news literacy instructional program.
  1. Research library:
    1. The Economist Archive (1992 - present)
    2. Another 692 publications including
      1. Scholarly Journals (‎502)
      2. Trade Journals (‎85)
      3. Magazines (‎82)
  2. Historical Newspapers
    1. Christian Science Monitor‎ (1908 - 2004)
    2. The Washington Post‎ (1877 - 2000)  
    3. New York Times (1851 - 2013)  
    4. Hartford Courant (1764 - 1922)
  1. National Newspapers
    1. The Christian Science Monitor‎  (1988 - current)
    2. Hartford Courant‎  (1992 - current)
    3. Los Angeles Times‎  (1985 - current)
    4. The Wall Street Journal‎  (1984 - current)
    5. The Washington Post‎  (1987 - current)


Database of public opinion surveys, such as Gallup, the New York Times, Quinnipiac, ABC, etc. information starts in 1930. This is an excellent resource for examining change over time (demonstration of how students can use this resource to generate change over time statistics).


  1. CQ Researcher
A Staple in the 11th grade curriculum to complete an assured experience called Congress and the American Dream.
  1. CQ State Stats
Widely used among Civics classes for senate simulations


This database aggregates polling and census data from around the world and presents search results in a variety of formats, including spreadsheets so students can sort, reorganize and mash-up their findings (example).

Friday, October 13, 2017

S.T.E.A.M.4 T.E.A.M.
Our S.T.E.A.M. 4 T.E.A.M.  (Science, Technology Engineering, Art, Math, for Talented Enthusiastic Adaptable Makers) met this week as they do on the 2nd Wednesday of each month after school. Our new Club Fair recruits joined our veteran Maker Majors and Techxperts to review short term and long term projects for the year. They set up shift rotations on a Google calendar. It is our hope to have someone "on duty" every period of every cycle. We still have many slots open so we are still in recruiting mode. Please contact the Techxperts if you have an interest in joining the TEAM.

Texchxperts recruit new STEAM TEAM members at the club fair

We held our second Somewhat Virtual Book Club meeting on October 4 at 6PM in the library. The club meets on the first Wednesday of the month at 6PM in the library, but students who cannot attend the face-to-face book group can join virtually via Google Hangouts. This month's discussion focused on the book, The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas which sparked a deep discussion between members of Dorman High School in South Carolina, James Caldwell High School in New Jersey and members of our club. Our next book is Light Years by Emily Ziff Griffin who will be joining us. We will meet on November 1 at 6PM in the library, we serve pizza and the meeting is open to anyone. Please consider joining us, but please RSVP so we have enough food for everyone.

#SWVBC meets with other schools to discuss The Hate u Give

Maker Magic:
So far this year, 16 classes have schedule makerspace time. Projects have ranged from creating 3D name tags in Earth Science to 3D representations of  Absolutist rulers for history class. Here is the list of makerspace-created projects since August. To document curricular connections for these innovative learning experiences, we link the teacher sign-ups to their assignments on the Makerspace calendar.

  • Earth Science: McLellan - 3D Nametages - 3
  • Earth Science: Haag - 3D Nametags - 1
  • Economics: Staffaroni - Posters/Economic Principals - 3
  • Civics: Goldhawk - What is Democracy - 1
  • Film as Literature: 3D writing prompt - 1
  • Global History I: Shwartz - Is Geography Destiny? - 2
  • Global History I: Bacon - Is Geography Destiny? - 1 
  • Global History II: Patrizzi - Absolutism - 3
  • Earth Science: McLellan - Timing Devices - 1
  • Game Design: Honohan - Board Games - 1
The Many Faces of Absolutism

MLA 8:
Last year, starting in February and based on student reflections provided through a research project exit ticket, we made several changes to our approach to teaching students how to document their research process. We moved away from online citation generators, we created a substantive MLA 8 Help Page, we created a template for research journals to facilitate consistency among disciplines and teachers, we started collecting and providing feedback on bibliographies from students twice per week (Tuesdays and Thursdays), then created a script to expedite feedback retrieval for students, and we developed a series of lessons documenting common errors and instructing students how to avoid them. Some of those posts follow.

What we learned from collecting and scoring 380 bibliographies over the course of the last academic quarter of 2016-2017, was that students need more instruction on how to create bibliographies. Unfortunately, taking scheduled instructional time away from teachers to teach students how to perform a fairly mechanical task is inefficient. Instead, we developed a student-paced instructional experience in which students will be asked to participate at home. The virtual lesson (sign in as guest) is comprised of 14 mini-videos (1-2 minutes each; 22minutes in total), each followed by a 1-4 question "Check" (quiz that requires NCPS log-in and is thus not visible to the public). The entire experience should take 30-60 minutes depending on student retention of the video content. As a follow up activity, the teacher will administer a brief (5-7 minute) quiz in class to students to check for understanding. Once students have participated in the experience, they will receive a digital badge which will qualify them to submit bibliographies for librarian review and feedback.

This new system will serve grades 9-11. By June 2018, all NCHS freshmen, sophomores. and juniors should have earned a digital badge for mastery in constructing MLA 8 bibliographies.

A Lesson on MLA 8 in 14 parts
Our new 3D Printer!
We have a new 3D printer, and it works beautifully, silently, and quickly! Students can moitor their project's progress through the built in printercam which broadcasts to a phone app or through their computer browser. It is a work horse and it has been working all day every day. Students are encouraged to reach out to the Techxperts to learn more about becoming certified in 3D printing. and designing and programming their own projects.

Flex furniture:
We've hosted quite a few classes in the lower library (#lowerlib on Twitter) this year, the new furniture facilitates scheduling multiple classes at one. The new ColLabA is open for business and students and teachers alike are making great use the new flexible learning spaces for a variety of learning experiences. Even after school the space is in full use. The football team watches video, the math team meets regularly. the TED Club meets there too,  just to mention a few uses.

Double-Header of Global I "Is Geography Destiny?"

Please follow our photo feed on Flickr:

NCHS Library 2017-2018

Please follow us elsewhere on social media as well:

Friday, September 8, 2017

The First One of the Year!

Please welcome Ms. Pacelli as the new NCHS Librarian! Ms. Pacelli comes to us from Stratford. She lives in Trumbull, where she also taught for many years. She has two grown boys; one who is getting married in October and the other who will graduate from Syracuse University in December. She loves to do yoga, read, knit and travel when she's not working with technology. She's had wonderful experiences visiting The Southwest, Alaska, Paris, Norway, and South Africa, and would love to talk about those adventures. Stop by and say hi!

We are so excited to have a fresh look in the library! Students asked for a lounge and they got one. This summer, the district upgraded the library flooring, painted the walls, transformed the old computer lab into a second ColLab, added cafe-style seating to the upper library, flexible instructional seating to the lower library, and moved the makerspace into any maker's dream space! We now have room to accommodate as many as five classes at once. Teachers are encouraged to sign-up through our Google Calendars (ColLabA, ColLabB, LibNorth, LibSouth, and Makerspace) to bring their classes. Students may do so upon request. Please scroll through the photos below to see how students are learning in our updated space:

NCHS Library 2017-2018
NCHS Library's 2017-2018 Flickr Album
When students enter the library, they can review the Library Use Schedule on the easels to determine which spaces are available to individual students.

The new flexible furniture allows us to now pair up overlapping classes for library instruction in the lower library (see below). This is great for grade-level collaboration and it improves alignment between librarian availability and teachers' instructional schedules.

Co-teaching made easier!
Seven classes have already made use of the makerspace. While we are still working on sorting and organization, students have made great use of the space to complete assigned projects. 

So far, we've hosted booltaks for three English class, and two social studies classes. We have several more scheduled over the next few weeks.

With the social studies classes, we showcased special collections: The Big History Read, and The Big Legal Read. These collections were curated with the course curriculum in mind. Students are asked to read one book per quarter in their class. Selection day is a fun and eagerly anticipated event by all.

Somewhat Virtual Book Club (SWVBC) met on September 3rd for the BYOBook season opener and will continue to meet regularly on the first Wednesday of each month. Next month's selection is The Hate U Give. We will meet in the library at 6PM on Wednesday October 4 and connect virtually with schools in 4 other states via Google Hangouts to discuss the book.

We sent out an invitation to social studies teachers to schedule librarian co-teaching on Friday, September 1. My Monday, we had enough responses to fill our schedules for the following three weeks. We feel very fortunate to teach in such a collaborative learning community!

We are returning to Flickr as a photo curation tool this year. We set up the album and it is streaming on our website (and at the top of this post). 

We made a few changes to the high school library website. Stay tuned for more!

Can you spot the changes?
The New Canaan Advertiser interviewed us about collaboration in libraries. Here is the article.

For those who are new to the high school library program, we offer both face-to-face and virtual instruction. All of our lessons are archived on THE ANNEX@ Here is our first 9th grade lesson of the school year:

Create your own Playlist on LessonPaths!
Our S.T.E.A.M. Team, which combines our Techxperts with our Maker Majors is growing fast! Students who wish to facilitate makerspace usage one period out of their 8-day rotation are invited to sign up in the makerspace. We are scheduling this old-school style on a sheet of paper until the calendar is set. We meet on the second Wednesday of each month right after school in the ... wait for it... MAKERSPACE! Ms. Pacelli is the team's faculty advisor and the Techxpert teacher. 

We met with freshman social studies teachers to give the first 9th grade research project of the year a makeover. It is now called Is Geography Destiny? Through collaboration, our butcher block paper meeting notes evolved into a multi-day co-taught lesson which launched in ColLabB today.

We set up a meeting with Special Education teachers to show them how to access all the resources available though our new interactive eBooks (LightBox). These resources will be valuable to learners of all kinds. Our initial collection is comprised of the following books, but Ms. Pivovar loved them so much that she requested several more. Needless to say, this collection is growing fast!

  • The Cold War    
  • Deforestation    
  • The Great Depression    
  • The Great Gatsby    
  • Macbeth    
  • Migrants and refugees    
  • New century conflicts    
  • Night    
  • To kill a mockingbird    
  • The Vietnam War    
  • World War I    
  • World War II 


Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Last One!

Ian McPeake, out Senior Intern
For weeks, we've been talking about how a Google Sheets script would improve our bibliography feedback system. Well our Senior Intern, Ian McPeake tackled the project, and today, he succeeded! All nine students who submitted bibliographies this afternoon received an email in their inbox providing a score, a list of items to revise, and an invitation to resubmit the updated version for further review. Here is a sample email:

Many students found accessing their feedback confusing. We hope that this facilitates the process.

Every summer, we publish our criteria for the summer reading list. We try to include very recent publications except for a handful of classics, a balance between adult and young adult fiction, we include a wide array of perspectives and experiences as well as genres. We aim to celebrate diversity with our selections. Our complete summer reading list is posted at This year, this process inspired us to update our materials selection policy; not just for the summer reading list, but for the entire collection. We are including it here.

As the semester winds to a close, many classes are creating 3D projects in the makerspace. Earth Science students have cycled through to create a alien that could subsist on the student's assigned planet or moon. Some of those photos follow:

The makerspace is for teachers too!

 And finally, this was found on a librarian's desk this week. We had to share.