Thursday, October 20, 2016

Mario, Luigi, Destiny, & More

Cross -posted from and coauthored by Jackie Whiting

In our last post we invited the community to help us choose our attire for costume day. Some people voted for Marcia and Jan Brady. Others liked the Double Mint Twins. Many people offered unique suggestions that we hadn't even considered. We really appreciate everyone's participation and contributions! Without further adieu...  the verdict was: Mario and Luigi by write-in suggestion! Our hats were a bit oversized and our moustaches very itchy, but it sure was fun to spend a day in comfy overalls! Thanks to everyone who contributed to choosing our spirit week costume day attire. There were many popular suggestions. Maybe one of them will make an appearance for Halloween.

We've been working with EBSCO to improve our search results in EBSCO Discovery Service, or EDS (the "search widget" at the top of the database page). While extremely useful, the search results sometimes feel overwhelming to younger high school learners. It cross-searches 36 of our databases and approximately 125,000 ebooks all at once, providing very detailed filtering options. Until now, students would have to enter the username and password for most results before accessing them. We are currently developing a system for students to authenticate once, early in the search process with their Google sign in, which would automatically open subsequent results for that search session without additional authentication.

We spoke at the Parent Faculty Association meeting this week. Its theme was, "Know Your School Resources", and each department chair was invited to share one slide and five minutes with parents. We made a video highlighting the top ten things students, parents, and educators should know about New Canaan High School Library. It follows: 

We opened a photo album for the school year, and added it to the library website. It streams on our "Photos" page (left navigation menu) at 

Teachers continue to use the makerspace with their classes. This week, Mr. Stevenson brought AP Psychology students to create 3D models of brains. Students worked in groups in ColLaB (formerly known as Computer Lab B) in the library to design their brains, and then used materspace resources, including the 3D printer, to create their models. 

Our online catalog, Destiny was upgraded on October 12. While school was closed, our virtual library was active. The new version features single sign on with Google, a Chrome extension in Google search results, topic search, and MLA 8 citations. Students searching for eBooks texted the library (615-669-6670) to inquire about the new interface. We created a couple of tutorials to help them navigate the desktop and mobile applications.

A critical aspect of the research process is source evaluation. You may be aware of the C.R.A.A.P. test students learn to apply to sources they encounter while researching. In a nutshell, students learn to assess a source's currency, relevance, authorship, accuracy and purpose before incorporating information from that source into their arguments. When we are coaching students in the application of this test we are reminded of a growing movement to introduce alternatives to textbooks into the collection of encyclopedic or reference materials commonly used in classrooms. Matt Miller is one of the people at the forefront of this approach; his movement, Ditch That Textbook, and the pedagogy behind it are gaining national traction. As our database collection becomes increasingly rich, students have wider access to sources that have been vetted, which makes the students savvier consumers of non-textbook material they find on their own.

We are very proud of the program we continue to build and finesse. At the root of all we do is a commitment to student learning, to helping to prepare the students to engage in the digital world that awaits them after NCHS. It is gratifying when practicing and aspiring librarians and other teachers around the country solicit our feedback regarding programs they are developing. Over the last couple of weeks we have been shadowed by visitors from many different schools and certification programs so that they can learn how to better meet the needs of their own students by observing what we do here. We know that teaching and learning is collaborative, not competitive, and embrace what colleagues can learn from each other.

Tech Tips:
  • Did you know that just like our database search tools prompt you to use limiters to improve your search results, so does Google? Try Advanced Search!
  • Try using country top level domains to search for information outside of the US. For example, a news search in returns Canadian news sources!
  • Will introduced us to a newsfeed app we LOVE! Check out 

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