Friday, March 6, 2020

In Celebration of Digital Learning Day....

To celebrate Digital Learning Day (February 27, 2020), we are dedicating this post to showcasing the wide range of digital learning resources the New Canaan High School learning community can access anywhere, any time.

NCHS Library
At New Canaan High School Library, we have a plethora of digital resources that students can access remotely. We have approximately 
  • 120,000 curated eBook chapters in EBSCO's Academic eBook Collection
  • 25 digital magazines in Flipster
  • 75 databases including periodicals, books, and specialty information such as curated international census data and public opinion surveys
  • 2,000 eBooks
  • 400 audiobooks
  • 370 YouTube research lessons created for NCHS students by NCHS librarians

The slide show below shows students how to access these resources. 

Check out the NCHS Library reading collection. Did you know that NCHS has recommended reading called VIDE, which means love of learning in Latin?  These books can be found filed in front of the circulation desk and have a yellow V label. Also, students come in for book talks to find out about different popular and notable books. Students are welcomed to check out more than one book. Please note that our own Megan Mabee is a writing contributor to BookRiot, a website that is like the BuzzFeed of books. Check out ↙her articles by clicking this link.

New Canaan High School Vide Collection

Featured new books at NCHS

Book displays

NCHS On-Line Resources
NCHS has a plethora of resources available with a click of any character or word in the search box. All the database resources will populate and let the search begin.

Did you know...?

Signing Up for a New Canaan Library Card
Any current resident can sign up for a library card upon proper presentation of identification. Children under 15 years of age may have a card in their name with proper identification and signature of a parent or guardian. Registrants are issued two cards, one wallet-sized card and one for a keychain, which may be selected from several designs. The card is valid for three years.

Identification Process
Proper identification must be provided in person at any public service desk to obtain a library card. Preferred forms of identification include the following:
  • Current Connecticut driver's license with current address
  • Government issue ID cards or documents (US passport; US Permanent Resident Card)
  • Utility bill, bank statement, tax bill or other official mail with recent postmark showing residence address
  • Rental receipt or mortgage paperwork
Managing Your Library Account
Your New Canaan Library card creates an account in your name, which can be accessed by clicking "My Account" on the library's website. Your account gives you access to items checked out with due dates, fines due, holds pending and other information. You can also renew checked out items online.  Usually, email reminders of items coming due are sent.

Check Out the YA Section

Check Out Special Events
New Canaan Library is hosting Leonardo at the Library.  The name of the program is Celebrating the 500 year Genius of Leonardo DaVinci. It is an exhibition of large-format photographs by renowned artist Ahmet Ertug. One highlight is Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, which is photographic images in three triptych-like panels that are nearly nine meters in length and reveal amazing details of this masterpiece.

New Canaan Library and NCHS Library work well together for you!

Friday, February 7, 2020

All Roads Lead to Learning

Reading and Research

  Ninth grade English students read a non-fiction books, such as Little Princes by Conor Grennan, A Long Way Gone by Ismael Beah, Enrique's Journey by Sonia Ensario, Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick, Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg, Daring to Drive by Manal Al-Sharif and A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea by Melissa Fleming. Students then did research on an issue related to the book and wrote a persuasive speech that identified a social problem and possible solutions. Students incorporated information from their research and created a bibliography. Teacher-librarians modeled effective research techniques and gave students feedback on their bibliographies and students revised them.

The Collapse of a Civilization

What does the collapse of a civilization and design thinking have in common? Global 1 students are learning why a civilization collapses by studying Jared Diamond's ideas presented in his book. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Students are creating a Rube Goldberg machine that simulates how civilizations like the Easter Island, Angkor, Anasazi, and Norse Greenland collapsed. Students used design thinking to plan out the machine in order to demonstrate how the effects of one factor of collapse, like deforestation, could lead to another factor of collapse, starvation. After reading and thinking about the collapse of a specific civilization, students got to work designing their Rube Goldberg machines.

Students then set to work to build their machines in the makerspace. They documented their progress each day and noted successes and failures in design.

The machines are teaching tools used by students to explain why a certain civilization collapsed.

Power of Words

    Junior English students saw a one-man play called Frederick Douglas: An American Slave by Daniel S. Campagna at the Kline Auditorium, which highlighted Douglas'writings and life. A copy of the play is available in the library. Students also participated in a panel discussion and saw an original version of Douglas' book, Life and Times of Frederick Douglas, printed in 1882 by the Park Publishing Company in Hartford, Connecticut.

Friday, January 17, 2020

New Year, New Learning

Happy 2020!

NCHS's Most Circulated Books of the DECADE
Fun fact about the list below is that we omitted the MLA handbook, which was circulated 27 times. We also omitted research-related loans such as Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. We wanted our list to reflect the interests of our students. It is now official: the popularity of Twilight and all of its bad-boyfriend paranormal spinoffs officially died out this decade. Whew!

Podcasts for Research
As a follow-up to our last post we wanted to share something about using podcasts as resources for research. Check out our first try at podcasting!

In-Text Citations 
As juniors wrap up their English research papers and freshmen wrap up their speeches, they have been asking a lot of questions about how to reference their sources in the narrative. We created a lesson around that which we will record shortly.

Digital Wellness and Digital Citizenship

Ninth graders are thinking about digital wellness and digital citizenship in health classes as the ICT team collaborates with health teachers to deliver lessons on creating a positive digital footprint, cybersafety and digital citizenship. Ninth graders discussed changing passwords for security, taking specific steps to be safe online, practicing online citizenship, which means thinking critically before posting.

Junior Research
Juniors are researching topics of interest after crafting a research question to solve an inquiry problem. Teacher librarians have been co-teaching with English teachers to support students in their research. Lessons on keywords, curating sources effectively and locating and accessing a variety of credible sources guided students in practicing best research practices.

Makerspace News
Economics students are prepping for mid-terms by taking their learning to the makerspace to design either a newsletter, board-game or book to review course concepts.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

What Juniors Want to Know (perhaps not what you'd expect?)

As juniors continue working on the first of the two major research papers they will complete this year, we provide feedback as they reach the following checkpoints:
  • Research questions
  • Works cited lists
  • Thesis statements
This research paper, which is assigned in English, uses The Great Gatsby's examination of social class, equity, and The American Dream as a launchpad for research. Students choose their own topics for research. We classified our juniors' research questions into 11 broad categories:
  • Civil/Equal rights/Discrimination/Social justice
  • Cultural messaging
  • Education
  • Family
  • Law enforcement/Military/National security
  • Mental/Physical Health/Wellness
  • Politics
  • Prosperity/Business
  • Science
  • Social pathology
  • Technology
The chart below shows how many students gravitated to each topic. 

As one reviews the above classifications, it is surprisingly easy to let ones' personal viewpoints influence expectations about the subcategories that could nest under each parent classification. Go ahead. Give it a try.
... pause

Our juniors are independent thinkers who are grappling with current issues in their own way. They are bringing their experiences, interests, and ideas to their understanding of, and predictions about the world they will inhabit as adults.

We compiled all 138 research questions we have seen so far into word clouds, which are images composed of research questions in which the size of each word indicates its frequency of use.

This deep dive into our junior's curiosity provides us with ideal collection development information. We are building a research pathfinder to help our learners access seminal work on their topics in a variety of formats.
  • articles
  • books
  • radio or podcasts
  • video
and also ideas and people that/who are getting a lot of traction in the media.

The pathfinder is a work in progress. This exercise will guide our next additions and revisions. For example, our book recommendations need to be reorganized. We have the right books, but our classifications do not consistently align with students' research questions. For example, we placed books on race relations under civil rights, but student research questions in that category focused on women's rights. Students who chose to examine race did so through the lens of either education, law enforcement, or prosperity.

Student work informs our practice. Co-teaching with our colleagues empowers us to improve our collection, our instruction, and ultimately student achievement. We are very fortunately to teach in such a collaborative learning community. Have a wonderful holiday. 

Thursday, December 5, 2019

December is a Flurry of Reading, Research and Writing Good Questions

NCHS Reads

There is a general perception that teenagers do not read. Our data collection tells a different story. We've circulated nearly 1,700 books this year. Clicking through the slides below tells us that students prefer print reading for fiction and digital reading for research. Our students read more books on social sciences and history than any other Dewey classification. The database chart suggests that students carefully align their database use with their inquiry research tasks. While Gale (comprehensive one-stop-shop for K-12 research) usage was high in September, it dropped off in October. On the other hand, JSTOR (scholarly research) and EBSCO (primarily eBooks and academic research) usage surged in October. Overall database usage increased in October. Once we get the statistics, November will likely show a surge in ProQuest usage. This is our National Newspapers database, which is a core resource for the Junior Research Paper.

Freshman Reading

Ms. Magilnick and Ms. Fitzpatrick's students selected books for literature circles. Their books will prime students for research on a theme explored in their chosen narrative. They will deliver a speech on their inquiry findings as a culminating experience to conclude the unit. Students were presented with a selection of 25 or so possible titles. What follows is a list of the books students chose. 

Ms. Hamill launched a graphic novel reading unit. Her students will read one of the following two books. 

Research Begins with Inquiry

Teacher-Librarians are co-teaching with English teachers to give juniors feedback on research questions, thesis statements, and works cited. Juniors analyze their research notes to develop original thesis statements and create properly formatted works cited that reflect the in-text citations used in the research paper.

Citing Sources MLA Style

Freshmen are learning how to cite sources using Modern Language Association formatting. Students watch video tutorials at their own pace and complete a short assessment to practice creating proper works cited.  

Makerspace Moves

World Language students creatively prepared for International Day.

AP Government and Politics students designed a Presidential Election Game that had a mix of strategy and luck. The game addressed ideas, such as assembling a campaign staff, Invisible Primary, and Electoral College.

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.