Friday, March 21, 2014

Creative Classes in the New Library

Our new library spaces have been constantly in demand and in use since we reopened at the beginning of the school year after last year's fourth quarter and summer under construction.  We have three spaces that we reserve for classes--the library proper, or Reading Room; the Danielson Room, which is a dedicated classroom with walls and projectors and whiteboards; and the Carlson Commons, which is the large staircase with stadium seating connecting the library on the second floor with the science wing on the first floor.

The social studies classes are our best customers when it comes to using the library, and the department's teachers have come up with some very creative ways to use the new spaces.

Every year, the Social Psychology class hosts a Baby Day.  Teachers and staff are invited to participate with their children (ages infant to four years) and the students conduct little experiments to test developmental abilities.  The new library is an open, comfortable space for this adorable activity.

The school gymnasium flooded this winter, so the Robotics Club, which normally practices in that space, took over the library on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons during their build season.  The light-weight furniture, a key feature of the new design, was easily wheeled out of the way so the Robotics team could set up a large wooden frame and practice having their robot toss a big red ball through it.  Robots in the library are fun.    

The Ancient Worlds class is a regular in the library, since the Danielson Room is larger and has more technology than their regular classroom.  One memorable day, however, they took to the Reading Room, the better to practice Greco-Roman battle techniques.  They (safely) used yardsticks as swords, coat hangers and rulers as bows and arrows, chairs as horses and chariots, and ottomans as bridges.  It was a more rambunctious class than we usually get in the library, but it was fun to watch the students demonstrate Spartan defenses and re-enact the Battle of Thermapylae. 

Two sections of sophomore U.S. history classes used the library Reading Room and Danielson Room for project presentations.  The sophomore history paper is a milestone at our school, and one particular teacher gave the quarter-long research assignment the attention and respect it deserves.  Parents of students in the class brought food (including a chocolate cake with the words "Congratulations on Finishing Research Papers!" written on it in pink frosting) and served as audience members, as did ninth grade history students.  Students sat at tables and gave brief overviews of their projects (which ranged from "The Virulent Manhood of Theodore Roosevelt, Jr." to "Flappers:  The New Feminists" to "Mental Institutions and Muckraking") to their attentive audiences.

On the last day of classes before Spring Break, we organized a relay race scavenger hunt for the ninth grade World Cultures/Wold History classes.  Students had to follow directions to find library materials using any available resource (including librarians!).  Students could work together in small groups, but only one student from each group could get up from their table at a time.  It was another rowdy activity with a fair amount of running and giggling and racing, but it was helpful to gage how proficient our students are in accessing the library catalog, understanding the Dewey Decimal system, and being able to find not just books about their topic but the relevant information within those books.  Finding books to read for fun over break was part of the challenge, too.

We also purchased a bound edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, complete with a magnifying glass so you can actually read the entries!  We're very proud of it and have been encouraging students to flip through it as much as possible.

Since the library also houses the tech center, we used the space to collect student laptops for repairs over Spring Break.  The collection worked well; we managed to set up the library space for laptop intake and still leave some room for classes as well.  With school out for two weeks for break, the library has become laptop central, tables covered with laptops and their matching new parts waiting to be repaired.

All in all, we're very pleased with how our new library is being used and enjoyed by our students and teachers.  

We have a lot of fun with it, too.  :)

Sean, Lizz, and students convert Mardi Gras beads into jump ropes after
the Parent Association-sponsored "Winter Doldrums Mardi Gras Day."