This year, Mr. Ellis-Lee and I again brought the senior AP Government class to see Professor Carl Andrews, a librarian at Bronx Community College. Professor Andrews helped our students examine a college syllabus and navigate the college's database collection to help them find materials for their research paper. The students found some great sources and Mr. Ellis-Lee and I were thrilled to have the research skills we've been teaching reinforced.
I went with Mr. Kozak on two field trips--another cooking trip to Cooking by the Book, where the students learned how to prepare an amazing meal, and a field trip to Grant's Tomb. Mr. Kozak had a partnership with the National Parks Service to have students create video projects on Ulysses S. Grant and the significance of his life and his tomb in New York City. I assisted with gathering reliable research sources and teaching research skills, so I was thrilled to get to go to the Tomb.
Finally, I went with HSAII to Ellis Island with the AP classes and the students who have applied to be in APUSH in the coming years. As Battery Park and Ellis Island are two of my favorite places in all of NYC, I was so glad to be there and so glad to talk with the students about the history of the Island.
Thanks to our partnership with New York Public Library through the MyLibraryNYC program, we were able to participate in the New York City Teen Author Fest's first annual All City Read. We had six YA authors come and read from their novels--over 80 students from 4 of our schools were able to attend and I am hopeful we will have them back next year!
Thanks to the American Association of Publisher's Adopt-a-School program, we were selected to have YA author Lisa Amowitz come and speak to our students. Three classes from three schools were able to participate in the program and many of them won a free copy of Lisa's book to take home!
My student teacher and I noticed students struggling with Microsoft Word--they were constantly asking us how to double-space, how to change the formatting, etc. We put together a workshop after school where students completed a series of activities that required them to explore and learn the features of Microsoft Word. So many of our students type their papers on their phones that they are losing this skill!
We were so lucky to have been selected to win the Innovation! MakerSpaces in Libraries grant this Fall. Thanks to the $11,000 we were awarded, we purchased laptops to begin hosting a weekly hour of code in the library. It was a bit of a struggle to get students to attend frequently, as coding is really challenging, but I think it was still worthwhile!
This fall, the Office of Library Services debuted the city-wide reading program called NYC Reads 365. This program had librarians from all over NYC using the expertise to craft a reading list for each grade level of the best books for independent reading. I was fortunate to work on the grades 11-12 list. We also received a grant from the Office of Library Services that gave our library all of the books from the 9-10 and 11-12 list. I put special NYC Reads 365 labels on all of the books and challenged students to read as many as possible. For every three NYC Reads 365 books a student read, I would give them a free book from my stash. This past semester, I gave out 20 free books and I plan to carry the contest over to next school year. Additionally, the librarians have already submitted their suggests for updating the list for next year!
This spring, I took on a large weeding project, the first I've done since I set the library up in the summer of 2009. Weeding should be an ongoing project, and I have done some weeding each year, but I find it hard to shake how empty our shelves were the first two years of being a library, so I have such a hard time getting rid of books! Because we are moving to the new library and have a security system, all of the books need to get a security tag and it does not make sense to tag books that are not being read or to allow them to take up space on our shelves. Instead of just getting rid of the books, once they were removed from the collection, I allowed students to take as many books as they wanted. They were THRILLED to have free books and I was thrilled that books that had gotten lost on our shelves were getting a new chance at being read!
I noticed that many students were asking for specific genres of books, hoping that we'd have a horror section or a romance section. I did not want do away with the Dewey Decimal System, as our public library systems in all five boroughs still use it, but I did want to help our students find the books they wanted to read more easily. My student teacher and I analyzed our collection and then categorized the books by genre with colored labels. Emily Feng, a student at Law, helped me by creating the color keys for the library so students could locate the kind of book they wanted to read. I think the students found this very helpful!