Thursday, November 29, 2007

IB History Internal Assessment

Our 11th graders are beginning their IB History Internal Assessment. I've been collaborating with the History Department for several years and we've been fine tuning the whole research process. This year we tried something new....A Book Feast! I don't know how else to describe it, it does kind of need a better name, but it DID turn out to be a great activity.

Basically, for IB History Internal Assessment the topics fall into a few catagories: Russian Revolution, World War I, World War II, Holocaust, Cold War (Vietnam War, Korean War, etc). Students can learn about events leading up to the wars (ie. Prussia & Bismarck), the Inter-War years and consequences of war. Very high level research going on :) An example of some questions could be "What effect did the first World War have on British Women?" or "Why did the Reds win the Russian Civil War (1918 - 1921)?"

I went into the IB History classrooms and we reviewed how to use our Gale Databases and I introduced them to Inter-Library Loan. After about a 30 minute lesson, we went down to the library and each student sat at a designated table (organized by topic) and looked through books that were related to their topics. It was such a productive class and it was great to see students excited about their topics! After they checked out books, we moved into the Tech Center to use the History Research Center (and some other databases). Students were also searching MeLCat for books around the entire state and their own public libraries.

Overall it was a really productive day in terms of research and I think our Juniors will be ready for their IB Extended Essay soon!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Great Links for Parents...

All of the Media Specialists in the Bloomfield Hills School District meet about once a month to share what we do, learn new things, have training, etc. In between meetings, we keep in touch with email. I've been getting lots of great articles from other Media Specialists and I thought I would post them here.

Young People Seen Losing Love of Reading from Education Week
60 Minutes segment on the "Millennials" Study Links Drop in Test Scores to a Decline in Time Spent Reading
Ken Follett is latest Oprah Winfrey pick

Take a peek at the new tool coming out.
Coming 2008

If you have the November 26th issue of Newsweek, take a look at the
article about the new "ebook" product the Amazon Kindle.

Eco-Tourism Travel Project for Spanish 10

I've spent part of the day getting ready to provide resources to our Spanish 10 students. They are going to do an eco-tourism project for Mexico and Central/South America. They get to pick a country and research places to travel that are off the beaten path. We have quite a few travel books to offer them. These are handy to know about and how to use them if one plans on traveling abroad ;)

We'll also be expecting students to use Gale's InfoTrac to find current articles from various travel magazines for out of the way places to visit. I made students a detailed sheet as to how they should start researching and what resources they should use.

If you have a student in Spanish 10 and they need some help researching, lead them to these sites:

Gale InfoTrac

Travel Channel Website
National Geographic Website

And of course, our book display:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

9th Grade Biology Classes in today

One would think that the day before a long holiday weekend, the kids would be bouncing off the walls. Fortunately, teachers had all kinds of exciting stuff planned for our students ;) 9th Grade Bio was investigating factors that influence photosynthesis through a virtual laboratory. (whew! that's a mouthful).

My newspaper students were doing online courses through the Poynter Institute on their NewsU website. They were free to choose from all kinds of journalism topics, hopefully something that reflects their own interests. It seems to go over pretty well. The site is well designed, contains challenging content and lets students work at their own pace. The website tracks the time and the pages that were visited in each module by student. This is a great feature for grading purposes.

NewsU site

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Vision of Students Today

We used this video for a staff professional development before we did some Blackboard Training. This video is a great discussion starter. It was created by a Professor at Kansas State University for a Cultural Anthropology class. It's worth a watch.

Music in the Library

I don't normally host non-research related events in the library, but today we had a former violinist from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra coming in to work with our 1st and 2nd violins. So of course, I let them practice in here. What a great opportunity!

So, 2nd hour today was orchestra day ;) I think the kids got some worthwhile tips and techniques and it was something different for us.

Detroit Symphony Orchestra Website

New Databases added to our collection

I am totally and completely blown away by the amount of new databases that have been added by the Michigan eLibrary. Every single resident of Michigan has access to some of the best research available. I'm just afraid that not enough people know about it and don't take advantage of it. I make it a huge part of my library instruction to make sure that our students understand the idea that they have access to 1000s of ebooks, magazines and peer reviewed journals. If every library in the state were to offer the same set of resources found in MeL, the price tag would come close to $200 million,",1607,7-192--162490--,00.html

This is just such a huge benefit for our students and the rest of our IA community. Every school and every library in the state of Michigan has access to these same resources.

I have chosen to repackage the look of our access point, using the current Gale Group logos. I have also requested a unique URL so that we can track the number of hits for each database. The Bloomfield Hills School District purchases an additional 6 databases, which specifically target high school students.

Students have the log on and password information in their student agendas and they have it on Blackboard. Take a look at our new and improved database page.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

School Visit...

Today we had some visitors from Assumption College High School in Windsor, ONT. and Lenawee ISD. They got to spend 30 minutes in the Media Center while we presented how we integrate technology/research into the IB curriculum across all subjects here.

I discuss the value of database research and show them the Gale Databases that we use most with our students. Then we show them how teachers are using Blackboard as a content manager for all classes here. Finally, we do a quick presentation of how we have integrated wikis and blogs (all free) into different projects and classes.

I didn't post a picture of us in the Media Center because I can't give the presentation and take pictures at the same time :) So I took a picture of us having a working lunch. It's nice to get to share IB-related information we have learned over the years.

All in all, a productive visit with a yummy lunch!

IB History Exams

Just recently I had a student ask me for historical fiction that deals with a topic that might be on the IB History exam (ie. WWI, WWII, Cold War, etc.). Her idea was to "study" for the exams by reading historically accurate fiction books. This inspired me to put up a display with a variety of historical fiction tied in to IB History topics. It's been surprisingly popular with our 11th and 12th graders. I've heard a couple of comments that they can read fun books and indirectly study for history! I'm pretty happy when I can put up a successful book display in the library.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Michigan ELL

In my "spare" time, I have been doing some ELL (English Language Learners) training. I have 6 official credits on my transcript and 2 workshops at Oakland Schools. After the first training I went to, we got a huge binder of resources. I decided to make a wiki of all the websites and articles so that it would be accessible electronically. These resources are probably most useful to teachers, but I'm sure that some parents would benefit as well.

Check out the site. If you have anything to contribute, let me know and I will provide you with the password.

IB Math Internal Assessment Deadline...

There is a 74 page IB guide to the Mathematics Internal Assessment which is rather complicated. (Eeks! I just took a look at it) It's a rare thing to see students so focused and quiet in the Media Center, but it always happens close the IB Internal/External Assessment deadlines. When the math students come down to use our Media Center resources, they mostly use Geometer Sketchpad, TI-85 Graphing Calculator software and sometimes MS Excel.

A brief intro to the IB Math Internal Assessment Portfolio:

Every student must produce a portfolio containing two pieces of work completed during the course.

Each piece of work in the portfolio is internally assessed by the teacher against criteria that are related to the objectives of the mathematics SL course. A sample of student portfolios from each school is then externally moderated to ensure uniformity of standards.

The purpose of the portfolio is to provide students with opportunities to be rewarded for mathematics carried out under ordinary conditions, that is, without the time limitations and pressure associated with written examinations. Consequently, the emphasis should be on good mathematical writing and thoughtful reflection.

The portfolio is also intended to provide students with opportunities to increase their understanding of mathematical concepts and processes. It is hoped that, by doing portfolio work, students benefit from these mathematical activities and find them both stimulating and rewarding.

Quite impressive for a mathematics course. I think the research, investigation and writing are all pretty unique to the IB Curriculum for a high school math course.

Here are our students feverishly working on their math portfolios.

Links of note:

The Geometer's Sketchpad® Resource Center

Texas Instruments Educational Resource Page

Microsoft's Excel Help Page

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Overachiever publishing lab :)

Every other day, my newspaper class comes in to work on the student newspaper. Newspaper is one of our Product Teams here at the IA, so we do not actually have a journalism program. Once last year, we tried to use Adobe InDesign for doing layouts...but quickly realized that InDesign needed to be its own class. We've been using Microsoft Publisher ever since. Students get the hang of it pretty quickly, since it's similar to MS Word.

We usually print about 250 copies of the newspaper on paper. Students read it and then pass it on so we have enough for everyone to read. Then if anyone missed the paper copies, we put a .pdf version on our website. That way we can share with parents and have back copies available and accessible.

IA Wikis

November 27, 2006 at 11:59:00 am The IA's first wiki went live and we have been going strong ever since.

We've got a pretty impressive list of student wikis. We've found that they are a great way to integrate technology in pretty much all classes. A traditional project can easily be turned into a wiki and become more collaborative. Especially if it was a group project to begin with.

The wikis are such a great tool, that sometimes even after the project is over and the students have a grade...they will go back to their wiki page and make updates. Pretty impressive.

Check them out:

Welcome to the new IA Media Center blog!!!

I've been thinking about starting a library blog for a long time now, so I finally did it! Mostly because I need a showcase for the amazing things that students accomplish in here. Partly because I need to document the collaborative effort that goes into the integrating a media center with the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. Lastly, I think that our parents and the rest of the community need a visual (ie. photos) to actually see what goes on here during the day. We are always busy and this is a great way to prove it.

It's also a great way to communicate with our Friends of the Library International Academy members and show them that their donations are well spent :) Hopefully, this will also encourage new members to join.