This week saw the return of a fun Middle School event: the Enlightenment Salon. Seventh grade students in Ms. Kahn’s history class are learning about historical figures from the Enlightenment period. Salon guests included Toussaint Louverture, Sor Juana de la Cruz, John Locke, Olaudah Equiano, Benjamin Franklin, Joseph II, Catherine the Great, Mercy Otis Warren, Phillis Wheatley, Thomas Hobbes, and Olympe de Gouges. For the salon, they acted as their figure against a roaring fire backdrop while discussing topics from the time, including equality, slavery, and women’s rights. Some students even dressed in costume! Check out the gallery below!
High school students are continuing to prove themselves as puzzle fiends. Students completed one at the beginning of the week, bringing the total number of completed puzzles for January to 6! They quickly started a new one and are making excellent progress.
It’s hard to believe it’s already almost February, but it’s true! We had a full and busy January that flew by. The first few weeks of January were spent grading the bibliographic portion of the Sophomore Project. We managed to squeeze in a high school book club between grading, and then the library was taken over by students in temporary madness for high school finals. Some students are voracious puzzlers and decompressed from studying by completing two 1000 piece puzzles!
Toward the end of finals week, the sixth grade science students came into the library to listen to presentations by different professionals in the STEM field. First, they heard from Mrs. Frandrup’s husband, Kurt, who is an engineer for a construction company. Students learned all about the work it takes the be an engineer and the kinds of projects they do.
The following week, students heard from an array of professionals, including: Dr. Nasirov, a cardiac surgeon; Dr. Lang of Ancestry.com; and Dr. Altman, a Sacramento State professor and scientist. After hearing from their visitors, students began to research science figures and careers for a project.
During the last week of January, the tenth graders returned to debrief about their Sophomore Projects and to get ready for their presentations. Against a cozy YouTube fire, students began learning how to give good presentations via content and design.
This week we hosted the 8th grade for their “Suspicious Scoops” unit on misinformation–how to recognize it and fact check it. At the beginning of the week we examined confirmation bias “our subconscious tendency to seek and interpret information and other evidence in ways that affirm our existing beliefs, ideas, expectations, and/or hypotheses”* as well as satire, conspiracy theory, the differences between mis- and disinformation, and what “post truth” means (“when objective facts are less influential than personal beliefs and emotion.”**) We also discussed click bait, hoaxes, media bias, and altered images/videos including deep fake technology. Then we balanced all of that with skills we all have to separate reliable from unreliable sources including common sense, searching skills, lateral reading, and OPVL, a way of looking at historical information to examine its origin, purpose, value, and limitations.
On Wednesday people at High School Book Club (more here) shared their wishes for types of books they were looking to read over the break–let us know if you recommend a favorite series, mystery/thriller, realistic fiction where you can learn about and connect to others who live differently than you, or just a really great read.
During Thursday’s meeting, Ms Melinson’s Advisory started their gingerbread houses that they will finish next week.
Tenth graders have been working hard on their Sophomore Project papers that are due next week. Good luck, Sophomores!
*from Facing History and Ourselves; **from Oxford Dictionary
This month we talked about possible items for our TBR piles for Winter Break. Ms Melinson is reading (and will hopefully finish over break) Questlove’s Music Is History. While she’s been reading it, she thought it would be fun to make a playlist and quickly found out it would be a very looooong playlist, however, someone had already made one on Spotify that was all the songs in order of their appearance in the book. So now it’s like she’s taking a masterclass in music while listening along to the songs.
Jess loved One of Us Is Lying, and she’s hoping to get some good suggestions for other thriller/mysteries. The way Jess puts it “I like a book that makes me feel like I’m having a heart attack.” Natalie suggests A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder.
Suketa loved House on Mango Street, and she enjoys reading books that may not be your story, but you can still connect to them. Doctora recommends The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande, which is a memoir.
Jordyn is looking for series fiction, and Natalie and Ms Melinson both suggested the Graceling series.
Natalie can’t wait for the next book in the Locked Tomb series by Muir Tamsyn. It’s on its way to the library and will hopefully be in her hands before we leave for break. She also read Angel Mage, which she said was okay, but not great–definitely for a. younger crowd.
Mr Wells read Circe, which seems to be really high on people’s lists and Song of Achilles. He’s looking for something to read so Ms Melinson suggested The Sentence for him.
Ms Melinson also shared a lot of books that have just arrived: Scattered Showers stories by Rainbow Rowell; The Weight of Blood by Tiffany Jackson; Seasparrow by Kristen Cashore, the latest in the Graceling Realm; The Final Gambit, the last book in the Inheritance series; Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo won lots of awards last year; Gleanings, stories from Neal Shusterman’s Scythe series; Sea of Tranquiity by Emily St. John Mandel, which includes a plague and colonization of the moon; and The First to Die at the End the prequel to They Both Die at the End. Non fiction picks include: the Illustrated Black History; 99% Invisible: The City, from the podcast of the same name; and Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach. Someone told Ms Melinson that science books aren’t entertaining and she introduced them to Mary Roach’s work.
We hope you find some great books to read over break. When you do, let us know! Oh, and if you’re not doing anything December 24, Christmas Eve, pick up some books and chocolate and celebrate Jolabokaflod and read like Ms Melinson has been doing for the past four years.
This week in the library, we saw 6th, 7th, and 9th grade classes working on various research. The 9th grade was in at the beginning of the week to begin their National History Day project. They discussed topics that would fit in with the NHD theme of “Frontiers in History,” and later in the week, they learned how to find related information in the library’s databases.
On Thursday, the 6th graders had a special visitor—Jim DeBoo, Executive Secretary for Governor Newsom. DeBoo talked to the students about his perspective on leadership in government and the private sector. This tied into the 6th grader’s English project around leaders.
Ms. Melinson’s advisory got a fun lesson in time management from Learning Specialist Ms. Adams.
On Friday, the 7th graders began their library research for their Ancient Civilizations museum project. Ms. Melinson took them on a field trip out and around the library to get their blood pumping for research.
The following week saw the 7th graders return for more research fun on their Ancient Civilization projects.
The library also hosted the Leadership Lunch with seniors Amaya and Ryan interviewing members of the Asian & Pacific Islander Alliance club. Club members spoke about why they started the club and what they plan to accomplish this year.
Finally, the whiteboard in the Quiet Room is seeing some fun drawings, as evidenced by Triangle Tuesday:
The library was quiet this week with high schoolers on their trips. But Middle School students were in for quite a treat on Friday when author and artist Jon Chad (Ms. Kahn’s husband, too!) stopped by to talk comics and bookmaking.
Jon talked about his work and creative process, including adjusting to making comics digitally instead of hand drawing them. He shared some of his early work and passed original sketches around the room so students could see the process at different stages. Jon also encouraged students to remember PIE when making comics: Pencil, Ink, Erase.
Students in Mr. Cunningham’s art elective got to have a lesson on drawing comics with Jon. They learned about drawing character emotions and movements along with some other quick cartooning tips. What a fun day!
The tenth graders were again in the library this week to work on their Sophomore projects. Some highlights include the return of the site visit! In pre-COVID years, students would visit a location related to their topic, usually in conjunction with their interview, and include that information in their research paper.
Students also got a crash course on how to contact and interview expert sources from Mr. Panasiti. He reminded students to behave professionally and courteously when interviewing and to come prepared.
The remainder of the week was spent learning about different sources, such as books and websites, as well as how to add relevant information from those sources to their NoodleTools.
Mid-week the library held the October book club, which you can read all about here.
The high school book club was back this month to discuss what students and staffulty had been reading lately. Ms. Melinson shared some new books, including Ain’t Burned All the Bright, Alone Out There, The Truth About White Lies, Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana: A Visual History, The Crossover graphic novel adaptation, and Their Eyes Were Watching God with a new cover.
Ms. Melinson also mentioned that House of Leaves has returned to the library collection. Jordyn is currently reading the book and said she’s never read anything like it. She described it as “well-written, poetic in its psychoticness [sic]” and creepy in an unknowing way. Perfect for spooky season!
Suketa read I Am Malala and said it’s a really good book. She also enjoyed Save Me Seat. Natalie read Imaginary Friend and warned that the rich and complex world the author creates is ruined by an unsatisfying ending. She suggested reading Bone Gap instead.
Samhita has been reading books by Jhumpa Lahiri, including The Namesake and The Lowland. She says they’re excellent books but too depressing, attributing the sadness to what the immigrant experience was like in the ’80s.
Mr. Comer began reading an ethnography of the Colusa indigenous people in southwest Florida but said it became too much. He mentioned that the author of Damnation Spring, a book he discussed last month, is too fond of the word pumpkins, prompting a brief detour into overused words.
Mr. Wells read The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu and loved it. He said it’s reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy and flips the western genre. He thinks it would make an excellent film.
View all of the books we’ve talked about by visiting our Goodreads page!
The sophomores visited the library every day this week to work on some aspect of their project. And there were many! Students worked on focusing their topics and went on “The Walk,” where they discussed their subject with a classmate while walking around the track. They also learned about Boolean search techniques and lateral reading, two important research skills that will help students find accurate and authoritative information for their papers.
The Leadership Lunch also had its first interview of the school year—and it returned to its pre-COVID lunchtime slot! Junior Ryan interviewed senior Amaya about her involvement with the Latinx Club. Amaya talked about wanting the club to focus on art in the Latinx community and hopes to have a bake sale in support of Latine artists. She plans to have the first meeting of the club before Hispanic Heritage Month ends in mid-October.