Extension Reading

IST Secondary Librarian Virginia Morgan has prepared three recommended reading lists for the holidays. They have been created for students who would like to extend their learning from the different disciplines they study at IST. These subjects are represented in each list; there is one for grades 6-8, one for 9-10, and the last is for DP students. All recommendations are books that are available in our library.

DP Students: Do you study Geography? Take a look at Longitude: the true story of a lone genius who solved the greatest scientific problem of his time by Dava Sobel.

Wondering why you have to study maths? Find the answer in How Math Can Save Your Life by James D. Stein.

 Please stop by and take a look at this resource.

Keeping Up and Staying Ahead

Yesterday Mrs. Morgan and Mrs. Fang (Library Coordinator and Library Assistant, respectively), accompanied by Neo Zhang (IT Database Manager)  attended a Follett workshop in Beijing . Follett is the company for Destiny, IST’s automated library software. Today we are busy implementing our learning to keep up with the many changes inherent in each updated version.  Mrs. Morgan also gave a presentation about the integration of LibGuides, a curation tool that she uses to support IST teachers and students in their units of inquiry. This software, an industry standard in academic libraries, was new to most of the 50+ librarians in attendance.

LibGuides are subject guides to help students find credible resources. These subject guides are springboards into detailed information that is academic and authoritative. In these guides, librarians recommend specific databases for specific subjects.  Widgets are built into the guides so students can access the databases immediately. Also included are other online sources, eBooks, and books from the IST Library Collections. This week, LibGuides are being used in DP Literature, Grade 8 HEAL and Grade 7 Humanities.

Why should students use them? Other than the fact that librarians spend an immense amount of time creating them…LibGuides should be used because an experienced researcher is directing students in the right direction. The researcher gets help  with “Tuning In” and “Sorting Out,” which are both part of the IST Inquiry Cycle. Students can access information faster, get a background on their topic, and be more successful in their searches

Wikipedia: It’s Here To Stay

The IST Library & Information Literacy Center teaches information literacy. We want our graduates to demonstrate mastery of tools for accessing information and pursuing inquiry. Therefore, we have committed to teach our students to use Wikipedia effectively. A 2010 study showed that 8 in 10 students turn to Wikipedia for their first source of research (Nagel). University professors often refuse to accept Wikipedia as a valid source because it is “crowd sourced,”  but is actually subject to very rigorous reviews by the editors. Each Wikipedia site has several forms of control designed to cross-check information and mistakes are caught within hours. To learn more about these controls, visit Wikipedia’s page on oversight and control.


Nagel, David.”8 in 10 Students Turn to Wikipedia for Research.” Campus Technology.              23 March 2010.Web.25 April 2015.

Redefining Research. OpenSite.org. 2015. Web. 25 April 2015.

Author Visits

After a great visit to IST secondary last week by Bali Rai, the importance of author visits has really been highlighted. An in-house visit, when done right, provides a learning experience that is as special as any other.

The excitement builds!

The excitement builds!

The MYP Book Club with author Bali Rai

The MYP Book Club with author Bali Rai

Mr. Rai conducted four one-hour workshops for Grades 11, 10, 9, and 8 respectively. He taught creative writing and delineated the “road map” of a story. Reinforcing an idea that “The Two Steves” brought to IST last year with their author visit, Bali asserted that no story is original; stories are based on a set of road maps, or basic structures,  particular to their genre.

For example, there are 3 basic road maps for a romance. In the first, the male and the female are together, there is a conflict, and they end up back together. In the second, the couple is not together, there is a conflict, and they end up happily ever after together also. In the third, the couple is not together, there is a conflict, and the couple does not end up together. (This is the least popular road map and the one Mr. Rai employs).

Bali went on to dissect the basic frames of mysteries, dramas, horror stories. He also connected road maps to popular trilogies and their film versions. The movies Kung Fu Panda and Ratatouille also provoked discussion of literary devices such as personification.

The learning became very visible when Mr. Rai helped Grade 10 students with the short stories they had just drafted. Students volunteered their road maps, Mr. Rai asked constructive questions, and ways of improving these stories developed.

Students get very excited when an author visits. And they look forward to more.  Already, Grade 8 student Esther Nicol has “tumblred” with popular YA author Cassandra Clare about a possible visit next year. Thanks, Esther!

This is a tumblr.

This is a tumblr.


Where Did Grade 12 Go for Week Without Walls?

They went to the Teachers Center!

Twenty-eight students in Grade 12 stayed at IST last week to finish their Extended Essays. Extended Essays are part of the International Baccalaureate’s (IB) core curriculum and are a requisite for earning an IB diploma. These 4,000 word essays can be written in any Diploma Programme (DP) subject studied at IST and range from physics and math to music and literature. The inquiry questions answered in these essays are at an academic level and require deep investigation. The seniors began working on their papers over nine months ago; “rough-rough” drafts were due on the first day of school in August.

This past week was devoted to the writing process. Students participated in Writer’s Workshops and received peer review. They crafted their essays, wrote sound arguments, gave evidence, made citations, and formatted it all for for formal presentation to supervisors. Each student has an assigned supervisor who will comment on this “rough draft” before the papers are edited for final submission and grading, and then sent on to the IB for official scoring. English Chair Joe Schaaf, DP Coordinator Michael Conway, Humanities Teacher Catherine Bartram, and Secondary Teacher-Librarian Virginia Morgan worked tirelessly with the students. The entire group enjoyed a convivial lunch hour every day as they gathered to revive themselves on take-out food and potluck.

Grade 12 students also attended two college guidance sessions with School Guidance Counselor Shallene Austin. Next, they will have write college essays. They should be prepared!