Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fun Library Things Happening Lately

The new renovated library, now in it's second year, continues to be a destination for teachers and classes.  Sometimes they're doing research-related projects; sometimes they're just enjoying the new space and having fun.  Some highlights from the first quarter of the year include...

The freshmen seminar classes, which run during study halls for the first two weeks of the school year, are held in the Carlson Commons which connects the library upstairs to the science wing downstairs.  This year, each section conducted egg drops, using teamwork to build the best contraption that would keep an egg from breaking when it was dropped from the catwalk:

New 9th graders test the parachute method of egg protection.

A 9th grade team celebrates after its egg survives the drop.

The whiteboard paint on the walls of the quiet study rooms continue to be popular, with students using them more and more for homework rather than doodling, covering the walls with math equations or lines of the various languages they study:

Mandarin characters cover the study room walls as students work through a Chinese language assignment.

The Oscar Mayer Weinermobile was seen in the neighborhood and Lizz and I were lucky enough to be there when it passed by the school:

Lizz takes a picture of me taking a picture of the Weinermobile.
The Weinermobile in all its glory.

The Ancient Worlds class is one of our best customers, using the Commons for a Greco-Roman debate simulation and demonstrating ancient warfare techniques with yardsticks for swords in the library hallway:

Just like the ancient Greeks, students take turns debating important issues.

Mr. Cady directs a phalanx of Spartan warriors.

The World Cultures/ World History classes are also in the library almost every week--sometimes every day.  A recent assessment included points for creativity displayed during an Olympic Parade of Nations that started in the library, circled through the school hallways, and ended in the Danielson Room:

World History teacher Ms. Calderone acts as host nation and leads the procession through the Carlson Commons.
Cheering students representing their proud countries return to the library.

The Greek constituents bring up the rear, bearing Lizz's library-made paper torch.

Our current book display is a very topical exploration of ebola and other plagues and diseases:

And today, we have Karina Leppik, Blake graduate of the class of 1993 and current SOFIA mission director at NASA, speaking to the school today.  So of course we put up a quick space books display, and had Sean pose with it since it's also his birthday and Lizz got him a space hoodie as a gift:

Space hoodie, space books.
We're looking forward to many more fun times in the library as the year goes on.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Library Relay Races

The 2014-15 school year has started, and we've been busy!  We've even already started our now-annual field trips to the downtown central Hennepin County Library, and this year, to prep for these field trips, we did a "library relay race" activity with the ninth grade World Cultures/World Literature classes.  The goal was to have a practice session in a library before the field trip and its accompanying assignment, and to assess our ninth graders' library and research skills.

Lizz devised a series of activities for each group of students (four students per group) to perform.  Once a student completed their given activity, they would come to me, Lizz, or their teacher for judging.  If the activity had been successfully completed, the group would get a new task, and so on until the first group won and received an thrilling prize of candy.   

Activities included coming up with successful search terms for both a Google search and a library catalog search, finding books by call number and by subject, finding specific information in a book using the table of contents and the index, and finding and evaluating a database article.  For each activity, they had to relate the book or article to what they've been learning in class so far this year.  A few of the activities led to specific books that we wanted students to explore; this made it easy for us judges to know if the students had successfully followed directions--although we did have a lot of re-shelving to do between each set of relay races so the next groups could find the right books again!
Some activities required students to work together in teams and groups to come up with the best answers.

Some activities required students to find resources on their own, without help from peers or teachers.

World Cultures teacher Ms. Calderone judges a student's book selection.

We conducted these library relay races for every block of 9th grade World Cultures/ World History classes, all in one day.  It was very busy, a little hectic at times, but we got a very good sense of the areas in which students need to gain more skills.  And since the kids got to compete with each other for the glory of the win and a few pieces of candy, they deemed the activity "fun."  A few kids even thanked us, which is always a win. 

A ninth grade groups together works at the library catalog station.

Two groups of students--one looking for books in the stacks, the other
brainstorming search terms--race for the ultimate library relay prize. 

The teachers also agreed that the activities were helpful to both see where the students were at when it came to using library resources for research, and ensured that the students wouldn't be too lost and would have some context for the public library field trips.  All in all, a useful and entertaining addition to our library-classroom collaboration.

Ms. Youmans and a student, winning.