NCHS Library News

April 2016

CS First

Starting on March 23, 2016, the library will run 8 coding workshops in the makerspace during period 8 on Wednesdays. Students who wish to participate should text the library at (615) 669 6670 or email contact We chose period 8 because it is the busiest period in the makerspace.

  1. Introduction
  2. Animation
  3. Parody Art
  4. Painting
  5. Graffiti
  6. Digital Art
  7. Architecture
  8. Greeting Cards

New Furniture in the Makespace

New Canaan Facilities found us four slate-topped science tables. Students quickly discovered that liquid chalk markers really stood out against the black table surface (Chalk easily washes off with water). The tables are a great stop off point for students heading in or out of the library. A quick doodle seems to de-stress learners (students and teachers alike), and the end product is beautiful!

We also repurposed South school bookshelves. We modified them to store over 100 alphabetized bins of makerspace materials.
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Junior Research Paper

U.S. History classes started their second semester research paper. In our debrief of the first semester experience, students were asked how the library could improve instruction. The word cloud highlights the dominant words in students responses. The graph features students’ answer to the question, “How helpful was…” for lessons, one-on-one help, our instructional portal, THE ANNEX@, slideshow, texting services, and our videos. Below that, students rated the helpfulness of library lessons. We used this information to adjust second semester instruction. We scaled back database instruction, and increased the number of citation lessons.

As part of a district-wide pilot, we introduced Nearpod to the juniors this semester. The online software, which is both platform and device agnostic, combines presentation with assessment, enabling teachers to teach with embedded digital checkpoints. It keeps students engaged, and it helps teachers measure what students have learned. The library teaches five lessons for this research paper:

  • Debrief
  • Notecards
  • Databases
  • Be S.M.A.R.T.
  • Embedded references
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New makerspace activities

Two very popular makerspace items include the Cricut, and the button maker. The Cricut cuts, writes, and scores paper, and cardstock. Students have used it to make makerspace signage and greeting cards, and they are starting to use it for class assignments. Students use the button maker to wear their designs. Jessica D. student miniaturized her art portfolio and wears it on her backpack. Will S. made a series of buttons to promote energy conservation. So far, we can only make 1 inch buttons, but we plan to get a 2 inch button machine. The Civics teachers are already planning ways to use it for their Senate Simulation. We have a corps of trainers who have taught other students how to use both the Cricut and the button maker.

Collapse Project

Ninth grade social studies classes continued to work through their Collapse project, examining the causes for the collapse of civilizations, using Jared Diamond's’ book, Collapse, as a springboard for their research. The graphic on the left introduces the “big picture” of the project. The word cloud on the right highlights our students’ interpretation of Diamond’s thesis.


Ethan G. set up the makerspace Raspberry Pi (a low-cost, credit card sized computer used to teach coding and programming), and found a way to make it play games. Our new “game zone” extended our makerspace footprint. It is, as one would expect, quite popular.

Rearranging learning zones

Following the recommendations made by Mr. Stevenson’s AP Psychology class as part of their unit on cognition, we moved all our study carrels to one side of the library to reduce noise and distractions for students seeking a place for quiet study.

PFA Grant Request

Over February break, we visited an electronics circuitry workshop for middle grade students at MIT in Cambridge. This inspired us to develop a “next phase” list of resources for the makerspace. We applied for a second semester PFA (Parent Faculty Association) grant to fund those purchases. The image below is a diagram of resources necessary for a circuitry workshop.
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Somewhat Virtual Book Club

Somewhat Virtual Book Club met on March 2. Our club facilitated the discussion of Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. New Jersey’s James Caldwell High School joined us virtually along with Manhattan Beach High School in Mira Costa California, and one student from Alabama who joined us from home.
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What we're teaching now

We post much of our research instruction on THE ANNEX@ (our instructional blog). It's the go to resource for students who wish to review what we taught in class.
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