Sunday, May 08, 2016

Grit by Angela Duckworth

Captain America: Civil War opened at movie theaters this weekend.  He has GRIT.  It’s Mother’s Day; mothers have GRIT. Angela Duckworth does, too.  She is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and a 2013 MacArthur Fellow who will be speaking at New Trier this week about her new book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Duckworth will speak on Wednesday, May 11 beginning at 7pm in the Gaffney Auditorium (385 Winnetka Avenue).  This will follow sessions held that day at noon (Loyola University) and 3:30 (Northside College Prep); all are sponsored by Family Action Network and a number of local initiatives.  

Grit tells about Duckworth’s research and her development of the Grit Scale, a better predictor of who would leave and who would stay during West Point’s Beast Barracks than the admissions measure involving grades, physical ability and leadership potential. Her book has three sections; first she explains “what Grit is and why it matters” with other real world examples like turnover and rejection experienced by sales staff or predicting graduation for Chicago Public Schools’ students.  Then, she discusses “growing Grit from the inside out” and finally “growing Grit from the outside in,” including a profile of NFL quarterback Steve Young and his parents’ “tough love.” Duckworth shares interviews with other high achievers and provides a list of recommended reading and extensive research notes. Throughout, she explains that if adults set high expectations and provide support, kids up their game.  Think about the examples in your own teaching or family that you have seen.

A very few quotes and insights from Grit:
“Our potential is one thing.  What we do with it is quite another.”
“Any effort you make ultimately counts twice toward your goal.”
“Grit can be learned, regardless of I.Q. or circumstances.”
To hear more, follow though by attending one of Duckworth’s presentations this week.  
Added May 11:  David Brooks (New York Times) on  "Putting Grit in its Place"

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Promoting Reading with Speed Dating and Book Trailers

Just a very quick post this month to highlight some of the discussions we have been having at our Library Department meetings about book talks, speed dating, and book trailers.  We have been experimenting with offering shorter “talks” and giving students a chance to preview and react to books.  They sit at a table with several titles on display; choose one and then for a timed two minutes, look at the cover, inside blurb, and read a few pages. As they finish, they rate their level of interest on a form we supply.

It’s fun and the students seem really engaged, often suggesting titles to classmates when we re-start the timer for a new book.  It is relatively easy to interject with quick reviews or to highlight a neglected table or category, too. Response from teachers and students has been very positive.

We have also been experimenting with creating some book trailers and reviewing those that are available on “channels” like the ones listed above. Each year, we use short videos to help promote the Abe Lincoln award nominees, too.  They are often incorporated in a LibGuide like this one (for 2017 already!) by Diana Nelson at Crystal Lake High School.  

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Some ideas for searching help ....

Just posting a few links that lead to much more:

One is Illume Learning which I first came across in an email.  This site makes me think of open educational resources and the efforts to make those more widely available.  Illume Learning is the result of a collaboration between founders Peter Quandt and Justin Irizarry.  On the site, one can search for key terms in a wide variety of sources (books, periodicals, even syllabi and lectures or Khan Academy).  I have shown this to other librarians and we want to spend more time investigating this currently free source.   

My first impressions center on the amount of material that is available – almost too much to efficiently search. The filters (e.g., choose a newspaper name or date range) and advanced searching (add a second term) appear to only work sometimes or in certain patterns but not in others. Although the site may still be under development, it has some exciting potential. This video will give you an idea of the range of sources:

In the meantime, I often turn to the Libguides Community to find ideas of links related to new projects and topics.  The search function could be improved there, too, by allowing for a search of multiple terms and adding K-8 and 9-12 subcategories. Increasingly, it seems that only version1 Libguides are available and that should definitely be addressed.

Saving what is arguably the best for last, here is a link to another favorite, the Journalist’s Resource, a project of the Harvard Kennedy School's Shorenstein Center and the Carnegie-Knight Initiative, which recently posted about “Reporting with Web and Social Media Data.” Last Fall, they also offered a timely pre-election review of “Polling Fundamentals and Concepts.”  Our journalism teachers and student researchers turn to this well-regarded site on a regular basis.  

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Makerspaces in Libraries

Here’s a picture of several New Trier students having fun working on a puzzle in the Library:
This all started for us last December when we decided to offer some “de-stress” activities during the lunch periods in the week before finals.  We had a variety games (and participation from our Gaming Club – thank you!), coloring and drawing, puzzles and even hot chocolate. Plus, we had visits from Comfort Dogs (thank you to that club, too!) and Haven Youth and Family Services who demonstrated yoga for interested students and faculty. 

When we returned to school in January, students asked right away about where the chess set was and we ended up creating a space to house games, Legos, craft supplies, and puzzles.  While we haven’t yet incorporated all of the hand-on activities that many other libraries have (there is a 3-D printer elsewhere in the building), we are excited by the student interest…. The puzzle in that picture? It was brought from home. And we are still actively seeking donations, particularly for Legos. It is great to see our students feel so comfortable and “at home” in the library, to be spending time talking to each other face-to-face and not on screens, and to simply be taking a break from the stresses of their day. 

It is exciting to see that colleges are also exploring this trend, as profiled in this recent article from Mind/Shift and from The New York Times: “Wood Shop Enters the Age of High-Tech”.   For more ideas on makerspaces in high school libraries, see a recent series of articles in School Library Journal. Two librarians who strongly advocate this work are Kristin Fontichiaro (University of Michigan) and Michelle Luhtala (who created this 5 minute video on makerspaces), although there are many, many more. A long list of resources is available from the Renovated Learning blog as well as more background information from the Institute of Museums and Library Services.