Friday, October 21, 2016

Mario, Luigi, Destiny and more

In our last post we invited the community to help us choose our attire for costume day. Some people voted for Marcia and Jan Brady. Others liked the Double Mint Twins. Many people offered unique suggestions that we hadn't even considered. We really appreciate everyone's participation and contributions! Without further adieu...  the verdict was: Mario and Luigi by write-in suggestion! Our hats were a bit oversized and our moustaches very itchy, but it sure was fun to spend a day in comfy overalls! Thanks to everyone who contributed to choosing our spirit week costume day attire. There were many popular suggestions. Maybe one of them will make an appearance for Halloween.

We've been working with EBSCO to improve our search results in EBSCO Discovery Service, or EDS (the "search widget" at the top of the database page). While extremely useful, the search results sometimes feel overwhelming to younger high school learners. It cross-searches 36 of our databases and approximately 125,000 ebooks all at once, providing very detailed filtering options. Until now, students would have to enter the username and password for most results before accessing them. We are currently developing a system for students to authenticate once, early in the search process with their Google sign in, which would automatically open subsequent results for that search session without additional authentication.

We spoke at the Parent Faculty Association meeting this week. Its theme was, "Know Your School Resources", and each department chair was invited to share one slide and five minutes with parents. We made a video highlighting the top ten things students, parents, and educators should know about New Canaan High School Library. It follows: 

We opened a photo album for the school year, and added it to the library website. It streams on our "Photos" page (left navigation menu) at 

Teachers continue to use the makerspace with their classes. This week, Mr. Stevenson brought AP Psychology students to create 3D models of brains. Students worked in groups in ColLaB (formerly known as Computer Lab B) in the library to design their brains, and then used materspace resources, including the 3D printer, to create their models. 

Our online catalog, Destiny was upgraded on October 12. While school was closed, our virtual library was active. The new version features single sign on with Google, a Chrome extension in Google search results, topic search, and MLA 8 citations. Students searching for eBooks texted the library (615-669-6670) to inquire about the new interface. We created a couple of tutorials to help them navigate the desktop and mobile applications.

A critical aspect of the research process is source evaluation. You may be aware of the C.R.A.A.P. test students learn to apply to sources they encounter while researching. In a nutshell, students learn to assess a source's currency, relevance, authorship, accuracy and purpose before incorporating information from that source into their arguments. When we are coaching students in the application of this test we are reminded of a growing movement to introduce alternatives to textbooks into the collection of encyclopedic or reference materials commonly used in classrooms. Matt Miller is one of the people at the forefront of this approach; his movement, Ditch That Textbook, and the pedagogy behind it are gaining national traction. As our database collection becomes increasingly rich, students have wider access to sources that have been vetted, which makes the students savvier consumers of non-textbook material they find on their own.

We are very proud of the program we continue to build and finesse. At the root of all we do is a commitment to student learning, to helping to prepare the students to engage in the digital world that awaits them after NCHS. It is gratifying when practicing and aspiring librarians and other teachers around the country solicit our feedback regarding programs they are developing. Over the last couple of weeks we have been shadowed by visitors from many different schools and certification programs so that they can learn how to better meet the needs of their own students by observing what we do here. We know that teaching and learning is collaborative, not competitive, and embrace what colleagues can learn from each other.

Tech Tips:
  • Did you know that just like our database search tools prompt you to use limiters to improve your search results, so does Google? Try Advanced Search!
  • Try using country top level domains to search for information outside of the US. For example, a news search in returns Canadian news sources!
  • Will introduced us to a newsfeed app we LOVE! Check out 

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Early October: We Need YOUR Input!

It is time to choose look-alike costumes for spirit week and we are inviting you to help us decide what we will be.

Check back in two weeks to see pictures of us in the winning costumes!

Constructed a tool
for measurement in science
We have been very busy with on-going research projects and new ones that are being introduced. We are excited to be collaborating with the new members of the various departments and continuing the great work that has been on-going with veteran colleagues. This week we have begun working with American Studies (AMSTUD) on their junior research paper focused on the Bill of Rights and its place in contemporary society. Increasingly, the products of students' intensive research is including artifacts rendered in the makerspace. This week Ms. Patrizzi's Global II classes created representations of the many faces of absolutism and Ms. Steidl's students furthered their exploration of character complexity with their layered, symbolic constructions.
Nearpod student learning report

BYOD has enabled us to present our library lessons in a way that is interactive with the students. Using Nearpod we are able to collect instant feedback on students' understanding of the steps of the research process and their ability to access the array of resources the library supports.

NCHS makerspace has a 3-page spread
in  School Library Connections.

The reach of the library program is being extended by our independent study STEAM initiatives. The TechXperts and Maker Majors (M2) met for a luncheon last week to kick off these programs for the 2016-2017 year. We are so pleased to see so much interest from students in all four grades who each bring unique experiences and talents to our library offerings. By joining one of these programs students are committing to their own learning as well as to supporting the learning of their classmates through service at the TechXpert desk, facilitating project work in the makerspace, or teaching workshops to interested students and teachers.

Lots of independent reading is happening and new book displays appear regularly. We are opening October with two new displays. One pairs books from our collection with national month-of-October observations. The other is a display of book recommendations featuring the Science Department. From fiction to non-fiction, military to sci-fi, serious to light-hearted, they managed to find something for everyone. We are very grateful that they so enthusiastically participated in this initiative. Stay tuned to see which department we feature next! We continue to expand the ways in which students can access the library collection. By downloading the Destiny Discover app (also available in Google Play) and inputing the NCHS library information, students can access over 1,000 eBooks, and 130 audiobooks from our collection. There are so many ways students can take their reading on the go! 

#SWVBC 10/5/2016
On October 5th, at 6PM NCHS students met with us both face-to-face in the library, and virtually from home to connect with book clubs from James Caldwell High School in New Jersey and Paul M. Dorman High School in South Carolina to discuss Some Boys by Patty Blount. The author joined us online for the entire hour, helping us better understand her motivation for writing the book. Our Somewhat Virtual Book Club meets on the first Wednesday of the month to discuss a pre-selected book. The November selection is I Will Save You by Matt de la Pena. To learn more, Contact us at

Club Fair 2016
The 2016 Club Fair was a huge success. The library advises four co-curricular groups:
  • Maker Majors
  • Techxperts
  • S.T.E.A.M. Club
  • Somewhat Virtual Book Club (see above)
Our first S.T.E.A.M. club meeting, which includes both Techxperts and Maker Majors, will take place on Wednesday, October 26th at 2:15 PM in the makerspace. We will select officers, clarify our mission, establish expectations, and provide sweets to eat.

Bob Ross fans abound at NCHS!
Bob Ross. Did you know he was a thing? It turns out that many students find his voice soothing and his majestic landscapes calming and centering. Many times during the day clusters of students gather to study and work on projects and display Bob Ross painting tutorials in the background as they work. We must admit, on a particularly frenetic day when we are running back and forth to many different classes, a couple of minutes watching Bob Ross and his fan brush nudge a weathered cabin to emerge from a cluster of pines is rather palliative. And, the library has a revolving collection of oil paintings on display!

Tech Tips:

  • Download eBooks & Audiobooks with Destiny Discover!
  • It's almost time to change your password
  • Check your privacy settings in social media and apps!

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