Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Online Web Searching? Ask a Librarian for Help!

I recently read the blog post “How to Make Students Better Online Researchers” on www.edudemic.com and it really hit home with what I am seeing and teaching today.  Last Friday I went to the 9th grade Pre-AP English classes to teach them about website credibility and how to find quality sources online.  Doing a quick online poll, I found that 71% of students in four classes only use the Internet when finding information for a research assignment.  But, do they know how to search? 

The article suggests that it is necessary to teach students critical thinking skills along with any research you assign.  It is your obligation as a teacher to help them acquire the skills they need to search in a way that will achieve the most relevant results. 

That’s where I come in.  I am available to assist you with research assignments.  Even if you do not want to take a whole day for searching instruction, I can come to your class and be available as a resource as students are searching.  I can remind students of how to find credible sources, assist them in coming up with valid search terms, and assist you in finding quality sources for your research projects.  I can also assist students in creating a works cited page for their assignments.  And remember, they must use these skills across the curriculum, not just in English class! 

Not only do students need to know how to find information, they also need to know how to evaluate the sources they do find for quality, validity, and relevance to what they are researching.  If you are planning or in the middle of a research assignment, contact me today! 


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Nooks now available for checkout!

[caption id="attachment_361" align="alignleft" width="231" caption="Matteo Barrero samples one of the Nook tablets."][/caption]

The HHS Library has acquired eight Barnes and Noble Nooks (five Simple Touches and three tablets) for students to check out.  Students may check out a Nook for one week at a time.  The Nooks are preloaded with approximately ten titles each, with more titles coming in the near future.  Students must have a permission form on file in the library before they will be allowed to check out a Nook.  You may pick one up at the circulation desk or print one from this link:

HHS Nook Checkout Form

Look to see what books are available on each Nook by following this link:

HHS Nook Title List 9-12

If all Nooks are checked out, students will be placed on a hold list and will be notified when the Nook they want has been returned.  We are excited to bring this new format to the library!  Please let us know if you have any questions!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Citing Your Sources? There's an App for That!

[caption id="attachment_281" align="alignright" width="230" caption="Once you scan your book, the citation will pop up and you can write it down or email it to yourself."][/caption]

MLA formatting for correct citation of your sources for research papers and projects has gotten easier with the Easybib app for Iphone and Android.  If you are not familiar with it already, Easybib.com is a free online bibliography and citation maker.  This website makes citing books, websites, databases, and images a breeze.   Gone are the days of meticulously checking every period and comma.  Now, researchers can focus on the content and the information needed to create the citation.

To make citing books EVEN EASIER, there is now a free Easybib app that you can download. With this app, you can scan a book barcode, and a citation for that book will generate automatically!  Remember, if you use specific page numbers you will have to manually enter that information.  Your friendly HHS librarians are, as always, here to help you if you have any questions or issues with this website or the app.  It's definitely an app we love!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Novels in Verse

To celebrate National Poetry Month, I wanted to share with you some of the novels in verse that we have in the library.  These novels are one cohesive story told in a poetic form.  Many of these are told in free verse, like Jump Ball, but can also communicate more complicated forms, like Keesha’s House, which uses sestinas and sonnets.  These novels can be less daunting for struggling readers, as they are usually shorter and employ a lot of white space on the page.  But be aware that the poetry can also be sophisticated and more difficult for those who are not very comfortable with the language and form.  Here are a few of the verse novels we have in the library to check out.  Also, stop by to see our “Poet Tree” display which includes more selections of verse novels and other great poetry.

One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies
Sonya Sones

Fifteen-year-old Ruby Milliken leaves her best friend, her boyfriend, her aunt, and her mother's grave in Boston and reluctantly flies to Los Angeles to live with her father, a famous movie star who divorced her mother before Ruby was born.



Jump Ball: A Basketball Season in Poems
Mel Glenn

Tells the story of a high school basketball team's season through a series of poems reflecting the feelings of students, their families, teachers, and coaches.




Aleutian Sparrow
Karen Hesse

An Aleutian Islander recounts her suffering during World War II in American internment camps designed to "protect" the population from the invading Japanese.





Margaret Wild

With the help of her understanding mother and a close friend, Jen eventually outgrows her nickname, Jinx, and deals with the deaths of two boys with whom she had been involved.



Friday, February 10, 2012

Scoop.it: Useful Tool for Web Research and Evaluation

In the past few weeks, I have been using Scoop.it with a couple of classes, including Holly Hamm's AP Langauge and Comp classes and Melenie McBrayer's Environmental Science classes.  This is a site that allows students to access up to the minute news and information about topics that interest them.  They can then choose the information they want to "scoop" and add to their topic page. Other members of the site can view their topic page, read articles, their comments, and make suggestions for new information. 

To create a topic, students add a title, description, and key words for the site to use to search.  The key words the students use are important in finding relevant information.  This gives us the opportunity to teach necessary searching skills and ways to narrow results, so they aren't looking at a lot of information that isn't relevant to them.  Scoop.it crawls the web using Google News, Google Blogs, Twitter, Youtube, and Digg to find information based on those key words.  It then lists articles as suggested content.   The suggested content will look like this:

Students then have the opportunity to evaluate the article and source, and decide whether or not it is credible.  They can discard the source, or scoop it.  A completed topic page looks like this:

So, why should you use Scoop.it with your students?  If you require students to gather articles or current events, or research current topics,  then Scoop.it is a tool that can help them do that. It can also help teach them how to navigate the web intelligently and evaluate and manage the sources they find.  They can also create beautiful and creative topic pages and keep up with their notes by typing them on the page.  Lastly, they can search other topic pages and "follow" other topics that interest them.  If you are interested in using this tool with your class, let the library know today!

Go to their site for more information:


Here is the link to the Libguide we created to instruct students how to use it:


Monday, January 30, 2012

The Power of Books

After watching the short animated film "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore," I was reminded of the power of books.  Books can transform lives, and make us feel like we are not alone.  Many students here at Homewood just need to find that one, right title to inspire a love of reading to last a lifetime.  My brother was never a reader in high school, but then someone gave him Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. He couldn't put it down.  He now reads voraciously, and things that I would never in a million years think that anyone would want to read, like the History of Railroads in the United States.  He needed his trigger.  Your reluctant readers all need a trigger, and we can help them find that book.  There is something in our library for every type of student.  If you have struggling reader, try to find out what they are interested in, and then recommend a book that would fit that interest, or send them to us to recommend a title.   My trigger was Nancy Drew.  From her, I went straight to Stephen King, and never looked back! 

This short film was just nominated for an Oscar.  It's worth a look.  What was your trigger?  Share it with us, and share it with your students, and inspire a love a reading that can last a lifetime.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore from Moonbot Studios on Vimeo.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Book Club Spring Semester Dates and Themes

Tuesday, January 31:

If you can dream it, you can read it!  Read any fantasy fiction title to share with the group.  Subgenres include urban,  fairy tale, dark, and epic.

Tuesday, February 28:

All Read!  We will be discussing racism in the Jim Crow South through two novels: The Help by Kathryn Stockett, and Mudbound by Hillary Jordan.  Pick one or read both!

Tuesday, April 3:    

The Hunger Games!  To celebrate the new movie, we will discuss The Hunger Games trilogy and other dystopian novels. 

Tuesday, May 1:     

Books into movies end of the year party!   We will discuss movie adaptations of popular books and view excerpts from some of your favorite films.

All meetings will be held in the library from 3 to 4 PM.  We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Library Calendar is here!

The Library is now using Google Calendar for scheduling time collaboration with teachers - both in the library and in your classrooms. Calendar is one of the menu items in the black bar. Click it and you will be taken to a view-only version of our calendar.

Choose the time you'd like to schedule and email us at library@homewood.k12.al.us to request a booking.