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.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Databases? We use them!

As we move into budget season, we are taking a close look at our students' database use. We are pleased to report that our overall database use is growing at an outstanding pace. We attribute this to several factors:
  • We introduced meta searching in 2015. EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) cross-searches 60 of our 67 databases. Students enter their search terms in a search box on the home page and connect to their results with one click. 
  • We set up single sign on (SSO) authentication, which means that students do not need to log in to individual databases so long as they are logged into their school Google account in the same browser. Before SSO was implemented, username and password inquiries were those most frequently texted to the library. Eliminating that barrier has made it exponentially easier for students to access these valuable resources. 
  • Databases cite sources for students. Students find that piecing together website citations is complicated and using resources that provide citations streamlines their inquiry process. 
  • The content is vetted, and once they master the tricky business of crafting advanced searches, they appreciate the search refinement features that our database cross-searching tool (EBSCO Discovery Service) offers.
Our overall database usage increased by 20% between 2017 and 2018 

Individual database use is also trending upwards by 34% since introducing SSO
ProQuest National Newspapers 
In 2018, student use of ProQuest National Newspapers, a database that cross searches the six following daily newspapers increased by 95% over 2017 and 65% over 2016.

  • Christian Science Monitor
  • Boston Globe
  • Hartford Courant
  • New York Times
  • Wall Street Journal
  • Washington Post

Friday, October 19, 2018

Fall is a Flurry of Library Activity

Digital Wellness: The ICT Team has been collaborating with the health teachers to co-teach lessons on digital wellness. Freshman students explored how impulse control and decision making influence what you do online. Strategies for creating a positive digital profile were discussed.

Club Fair: Students prepared for the Club Fair by creating signs for their sign-up booth. The library advises the Somewhat Virtual Book Club (#SWVBC).  This is the NCHS book discussion group. New Canaan High School's club members meet face-to-face at the high school library on the first Wednesday of the month at 6 P.M. to discuss a pre-selected book. Pizza is served. During club meetings, the NCHS club connects virtually through Zoom with schools in other states to exchange ideas.  The next meeting is November 7, 2018. Also, the library sponsors S.T.E.A.M. Team.  The student-led S.T.E.A.M. club combines robotics, circuitry and coding with art. Members are challenged to invent and innovate to pursue their passions and to share their learning in the Makerspace.

Makerspace Sightings: Some students in Global II have been using the Makerspace to create a monument for an Enlightened philosopher. Students had to decide where the monument would be placed and defend their position why that thinker should be memorialized.  Others created an original representation of a philosopher. Also, students in U.S. History used the Makerspace to portray Teddy Roosevelt's Square Deal, including the creation of the FDA and the regulation of the railroad. Additionally, students in Interior Design class created mood boards.

Global I Research :  Freshman in Global I are learning how to access NCHS Library databases to do research on an ancient civilization. They are working to complete the Anatomy of a Civilization whereby various parts of the body represent different areas of PERSIA + GT. (Political, Economics, Religion, Social, Intellectual, Aesthetics and Technology).  The NCHS Library Homepage allows students to easily access databases as long as they sign into their Google Drive. Simply put a keyword in the search box widget.

MLA 8 Badges: Freshman are earning their MLA 8 citation badges by watching short tutorials on how to cite sources correctly and taking a quiz. Citing sources is a skill sure to be used throughout students' academic careers.  A total of 15 badges can be earned covering proper formatting and the various parts of a citation. Sophomores who need to complete the tutorials may do so.

Junior Research Paper:  Juniors in Mrs. Magilnick's class are submitting a research question on a topic of interest. The English teacher and the librarians are giving feedback on questions and conferring with students.