Friday, March 28, 2014

Working together....Art Extraganza and the Library!

It was a busy week in the library, MCAS make-ups, classes researching urban issues relating to the recent reading of All Souls / Michael MacDonald. Seniors are choosing a topic that affects teens such as gun violence, poverty and teen pregnancy. They have to gather data and then create a potential solution or program to combat the issue.

In addition, Thursday was the Natick Public Schools Art Extraganza! For the second year in a row the district has created a night to celebrate the arts in our schools. Students from all schools celebrated at the high school through various forms of art. Chorus and bands performed from the elementary level through high school. Dancing was showcased  and art work in all forms played a prominent role. The library partnered with the Art Departments and held the Middle school/High school art reception in the library along with various performances such as the Speech Team from the high and the ever popular Brown School 4th grade Rhythm Ostinato! The art work displayed in the library has brightened up the space and is gathering a ton of foot traffic as high school students are coming in to show their friends their pieces! It has been a big success!!

Art Work By High School Students

Art Work By Middle School Students

How important is sleep and literary productivy? Well according to these varies! The board below is based on the sleep habits of some famous authors and how many pieces of writing they have published. Word of note....Ellen Hopkins was GREAT! Library Assistant Brian Wong emailed her to ask what time she wakes up in the morning and she responded immediately!! Got to love that!!
Created by Brian Wong

Friday, March 21, 2014

Alternative to Google....Instagrok!

I am constantly looking for ways to teach solid research skills to students and provide them with options to find quality sources. In the world where everyone Googles, I feel it is important to provide other alternatives. I was fortunate to present at Hopkinton High last week with their amazing library teacher at their in house staff development day. I love when I learn new things and was introduced to Instagrok. Instagrok themselves describes it best: (from their website)
"instaGrok is an innovative educational search engine that combines sophisticated semantic technology with an interactive user interface to make learning more engaging, personalized and fun for everyone. instaGrok is used by hundreds of thousands of students, teachers and everyday people every month."
Istagrok results are returned using the mind map concept. It has a slide where you can level the results based on difficulty. In addition the results are broken up into categories, "key facts" "websites" "videos" "images" and "concepts." There is a quiz you can take based on your search topic. For example, I did a search on Parkinson's Disease and they provided a quiz asking basic informational questions about Parkinson's. It could be used as a pre-assessment.  There is also a place to journal, students can keep notes they are collecting from the resources right on their account page. There is a paid subscription but so far the free version has been top notch. This is one of the best tools I have seen in awhile! Check it out and thanks Kirsten for sharing!!! Hopkinton is lucky to have you!!

Well the first round of playoffs are in and there were some hotly contested games including a tie that had to go into a play off game!! But the next round of books has been decided in the Battle of the Books...Come down for the next round of voting, all this week! There have been tears, trials and tribulations about the outcome....
The next round of play offs are the following:
Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian vs. Beautiful Creatures
Lovely Bones vs. Crank
Delirium vs. Fangirl
City of Bones vs. Fault in Our Stars
Book Thief vs. Looking for Alaska
Hunger Games vs. Mockingjay
Speak vs. Perks of a Being a Wallflower
Glass Castle vs. To Kill a Mockingbird

Friday, March 14, 2014

Madness is not limited to basketball!!!!

Another Friday....another frigid day in New England!! Someday soon it will have to nice out...until then....we will focus on something else...and that my the madness of March!!! In order to take our minds off of the snow, cold temps and general grayness of the month, we decided to hold our own March Madness in the library. Wish I could take credit for this great idea, but many libraries have been doing it for years! So while the NCAA basketball tournament is one of my favorites, GO UMASS!! I hope you make it in this year,...the library decided to focus on the Battle of the Books. The staff came up with our brackets and the voting began yesterday. WOW, we have been inundated with students and staff who are angry, frustrated and concerned over the pairings!! "How dare we pair Hunger Games vs. Divergent or Eleanor & Park vs. The Fault in Our Stars?!!!" WE LOVE IT!! The conversation and debates over which books to vote for has been fantastic!! Can't wait to see how this plays out!! We will keep you posted!!!
Student voting for her top picks!

Friday, March 7, 2014

LIt Crit and the Road to Analyzing....

One of my favorite projects various departments do is to create an annotated bibliography. Students in biology have been working on this for a few months now. Such a great skill to have, all students entering college will have to know how to really use and understand this skill. The junior English classes are currently tackling this key skill through the analysis of various pieces of literature using literary criticism. Digging into the literary databases we have access to, using the advanced search features and understanding how to use search terms effectively, students have been looking at various themes in novels such as The Scarlet Letter, The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye. Students are also taking advantage of the numerous print resources we have on these novels. They are finding the books to be more helpful than anything else they have stumbled upon as they are realizing some authors devote their lives to literary criticism. For me, watching a student decide on a theme to analyze, research the topic and have that "aha" moment when it all begins to make sense is what this is all about. I always stress to the students that research is a messy affair! If done correctly, there will never be that one article or resource that will answer your question because ideally you are gathering information and evidence to create something new. If you find something that can write your whole paper then you are not offering anything new. You may only find a paragraph or two in a 6 page article that is helpful but those two paragraphs could be THE ones that give you that aha moment! It is like putting together a puzzle and when it all comes together and you can see the design it is pretty amazing!!