Friday, March 15, 2019

March Learning Coming in Like a Lion

Why Do Some Societies Collapse?
    Students in Global I are deepening their understanding of why some societies collapse and others endure.  Students close read writings by Jarad Diamond, including parts of his book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Some students explained the dynamics of Diamond's reasons for collapse through a Rube Goldberg Machine. Students became the teachers and explained why civilizations, such as the Anasazi, Easter Island, and Tokugawa Shogunate, either collapsed or found a way to endure.

Students teach each other about how societies collapse or endure.
In the process, students took notes on background of civilization, reasons for success, reasons for collapse as well as any miscellaneous information that was intriguing.

Students thoughtfully planned and created infographics to deepen understanding and explain the reasons for the collapse or endurance according to Diamond's text.

Key ideas are included in an infographic. 

Global I students are also thinking about what they learned about the past civilizations' collapse or endurance and are relating it to modern day society: Are we doomed?  Some Global I students researched a modern day issue and wrote a magazine article about it through the lens of a collapse problem defined by Diamond and suggested possible solutions to adapt and endure.

Open House at New Canaan High School Library
    Visitors from other schools, including an administrator, came to visit the NCHS library and to engage in professional dialogue. Visitors toured the library and the makerspace.

MLA 8 Certified
   Freshman students continue to learn about citing sources using MLA 8 and earning digital badges after watching short videos and taking a quiz.

Makerspace Sightings
  Civic students created a visual representation of a part of the Constitution.

Earth Science students created aliens and explained how they adapted to another planet. Students kept in mind that everything that lives on Earth has adapted to certain features of the Earth: the atmosphere, climate, land, oceans, temperature, seasons and gravity. The alien must be able to adapt to the planet being studied.

Living Poets
    English students read works of a contemporary poet that they found intriguing. Then they made a pitch as to why the library should include the works of these writers. Students were given a budget to work with and had to justify which works would make a good addition to the library collection.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Winter Alert: Learning Squalls Taking Place

Midterms-We Got This!
    The library was a central hub of activity during midterms. Tables were set up for diagraming ideas, doodling or relaxing with friends in between and after exams. Students studied together or decompressed with friends.
Chit Chatting about Books:
     Sophomore English classes talked about books they are reading and heard about other books through a booktalk. Students keep a list of "on-deck" books to read in the future.
Juniors Read about Historical Periods: 
Students in U.S. History classes are exploring books from different time periods and selecting one of interest. The book may serve as a springboard for digging deeper into a topic for the Junior Research Paper. Books about WWII, the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War and the War on Terrorism are being highlighted in both fiction and nonfiction stories. Teacher librarians and the history teachers collaborated to plan out the booktalk, which included an array of diversified titles.

Climate, Countries, Databases and Correct Citations
Students in Honors Earth Science conducted research to predict how climate change may impact a particular region or country. Students had to take into consideration how people, geography and economy will affect climate when they presented their research-based predictions. A librarian collaborated with the science teacher to guide students in accessing databases and other reliable sources. Students received feedback from a teacher librarian on their Works Cited and feedback about the content of the presentation from the science teacher before presenting their final projects. 

Digging Deeper into Research: 
Sophomores are learning strategies for moving beyond reference sources into more diversified scholarly sources as they embark on research on imperialism using the WISER Research Process (Wonder, Investigate, Synthesize, Express and Reflect). Librarians and history teachers are collaborating to further develop students' research skills.
Thinking in the Makerspace: 
Freshmen are learning why civilizations collapse.  They are exploring the following Essential Questions: Why do some societies collapse? What lessons can past civilizations teach us about collapse? Students are designing a Rube Goldberg machine to illustrate the causes and effects of the collapse of a particular civilization. The teacher and librarian are explaining how students will be using design thinking to plan their ideas that will be used during construction in the makerspace.

Punic War Comics: 
Students in Global I created a comic strip to explain the Punic Wars. The graphic illustrations and text allowed students to demonstrate their learning and teach other about these historical events.

Gummy Bear Governments
Students in Civics used gummy bears and makerspace materials to create a model of different forms of government. Students could base their depiction on a nation that institutes that form of government.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Makerspace and a Lesson on News Literacy

This year, we reorganized the NCHS Library makerspace. In a webinar presentation on January 23rd, members of the ICT team shared information about the NCHS makerspace. The following is an outline of the presentation.

We started by reviewing the evolution of our makerspace from 2015-2018.

Then we explained what drove our reorganization plan. In the spring of 2018, Ms. Zilly's Interior Design students were assigned to present makerspace redesign proposals to a panel of educators. Ms. Burns and Ms. Pacelli then consolidated their notes from the five groups' presentations into a plan.

Then we shared images of students working in the makerspace.

Finally, we wrapped up by sharing our vision for future impact and growth. We highlighted a number of design and learning models that feature empathy at their core. We are developing a model that features their points of intersection.

In preparation for the sophomore research assignment, which in many cases focuses on op-ed writing, we began working on a news literacy lesson that will develop critical reading skills. While it is still in draft form, we are sharing it below.

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.