Thursday, January 10, 2019

Ring in the New Learning!

2019 Makerspace Sightings:  Economics students used the makerspace to create a way to explain concepts around scarcity, supply and demand, opportunity costs as well as other economic principles.

Save the Turtles!  Marine Science students applied research by designing prototype for a kid's placemat for a restaurant to teach about the seven species of sea turtles. The placemats included information about each species, causes of their endangerment and the difference between land and sea turtles.

Ring in the Reading: Sophomores in Ms. Struzzi's English class started the year off right with a booktalk. 
Digging Deeper: Honors Freshman in Mrs. Hamill's English class conducted research in order to write a speech about their inquiry into a controversial issue.  Students located and accessed resources, actively read, and took notes on an original inquiry research question. They are working on articulating ideas in a speech to explain their position on the issue and to make the case why action needs to be taken to address it. 

Intern Visit: An intern from the state of Connecticut Alternate Route to Certification (ARC) Program for library media specialists spent a day at the high school observing librarians in action. The intern noted how the makerspace was set up and used. She also inquired about how to facilitate a standards based integrated high school library program.
Lights, Camera, Action: TV Broadcasting students are creating segments on different topics, such as people's favorite songs in 2018 or a PSA. 
Cracking the Books:  Students are studying for midterms, and the library is the perfect learning hub for studying together. 
Somewhat Virtual Book Club:  The NCHS Virtual Book Club (#SWVBC) meets the first Wednesday of the month in the evening to talk about a preselected book. January's selection was An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green. Students may meet up at the library for pizza and face-to-face camaraderie or join the discussion virtually. Participants from California, New Jersey and South Carolina join the discussion virtually. All students are invited to participate.

A word about "the." As the semester winds to a close, we are supporting learners by providing feedback on their bibliographies before they hand them in to their teachers. We often see students include the article "the" in periodical titles. Examples include:
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • The New York Times
  • The Washington Post
  • The Boston Globe
  • The Economist
  • The Atlantic
  • The New Yorker
This is what the above publications are named. On the other hand, some publications do not include the article "the" in their publication name. Examples follow: 
  • Los Angeles Times
  • Chicago Tribune 
In the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook, there are newspaper article examples that reflect the full publication title including "the".  For our purposes at the high school, requiring students to look up which publication names include the article "the" and which do not seems like one more "thing to do." For the teacher, the word "the" clutters the citation. When evaluating thousands of citations, it is more functional to skip from the article title to the publication name without the buffer "the." We have encouraged students to drop the article with a few exceptions. For a handful of publications, it has become such a part of our cultural lexicon to include the article "the" in the publication name that people get confused we are confused by its omission - The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The Economist are three examples of this. 

We accept citations with and without the article "the" from students. They should know that in college, they will be expected to take the extra step of looking up the exact name of each publication they cite. 

Students have been working very hard on citing their sources correctly. We are extremely proud of their efforts and their progress. Teachers are reporting outstanding results.  

Friday, December 21, 2018

Happy Holidays!

We cannot believe it is time for holiday break! Time DOES fly when you are having fun! We've been wildly busy, delighting in all the ways our learners are demonstrating their curiosity and love of learning.

Our 9th grade Digital Wellness unit, co-taught with New Canaan High School health teachers, wrapped up this week. Students collaborated and used BookCreator to design dust jackets for "the ideal book on stress." Familiarizing themselves with the research journal template they will use again and again throughout their career at NCHS, they evaluated provided resources and created bibliographies.

English Junior research paper is in full swing. Many students submitted their final drafts this week. Several teachers told us that students' works cited lists were much improved this year. While we strongly suspect that this is attributable to the online student-paced learning experience we developed last year, we will investigate this in detail after the break through an exit ticket. Student after student voiced their appreciation for the MLA 8 Help Page we revise on a daily basis, and specifically the value of our growing sample citations document.  

Ninth grade English students used nonfiction lit circle reads to inspire them to investigate a line of inquiry and deliver a speech on a controversial issue. 

Sophomores researched many historically significant revolutions. Ms. Patrizzi's students collaborated to create 3D monuments to the revolutions they researched. AP World students examined mid-19th century Latin American revolutions from multiple stakeholder perspectives, Ms. Browner's students analyzed intellectual revolution by highlighting the contributions of the Enlightenment's great thinkers, Mr. Stevenson and Ms. Greco's students investigated technological revolution by comparing the pros and cons of late 19th century industrial change to current technological innovations, and Mr. Phillips' and Ms. Cohen's students evaluated the aftermath of the French Revolution by trying Napoleon for crimes against humanity in a courtroom simulation.

Ms. Patrizzi's students' monument

Ms. Patrizzi's students' monument
It was another busy makerspace month! Five departments made use of our maker resources by assigning students to demonstrate their learning creatively. Through this innovation, students are challenged to think critically about resources and presentations in a way that deepens their understanding of critical curricular concepts. As the semester winds to a close, students and teachers will be invited to complete an exit ticket to articulate how making impacted learning this semester.

AP Economics classes investigated market structures, specifically monopolistic competition, by creating hamburgers. The student's work demonstrated why fast food restaurants are excellent examples of this type of market. Very similar, but with important differences, students worked to create the "best" burger and then marketed their design to the class in the following period.

Sidney Sheffield facilitated two lunchtime workshops during which students designed illuminated objects with LED circuits.

As you can see, December has been a busy month and we are deeply grateful to the New Canaan community for sharing such enthusiastic learners with us. Our days are filled with creative and original intellectual challenges and we relish in collaborating with students and faculty to work through them. We wish you a joyful and restful break. See you next year!

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.