Back at our Old Address

Our IT manager, Ms. Dora Hu, just emailed me to say that we can now access the library OPAC using our old address:

This means that once again we have just one URL for access from school and from home.

Please check the link and let me know if you encounter any problems reaching the OPAC landing page. It will look like this:

IST Library OPAC landing page


You will need to click on the blue “IST Library” link to fully enter the OPAC.

IST Library OPAC main search page

Grade 1 Learns about Forces with the Library OPAC

The library OPAC is a treasury of resources for our students. It is basically an online list of all our library materials, but it also holds a collection of useful links on the Visual Tab page.

Main search page of the library OPAC

Grade 1 is using the library OPAC’s Visual Tab to access information on forces for their unit on “how the world works.” Two of the websites featured are particularly useful to them: BrainPop and Bite-Sized Science from the BBC.

A link to the library OPAC can be found at the top left hand corner of this blog, but the URL is easy to remember:

To connect from home, you have to add :81 to the end of that address.  (Update: As of March 2014, we have a single URL for the library OPAC.)

Landing page to library OPAC

Click on the blue link to the IST library and then you’ll be on the main search page of the library OPAC.

The Visual Tab is the third from the left. IST librarians have created pages on the Visual tab to many different topics and subjects. Elementary school students from grade 1 can click on the PYP UOI button to find links for each of their units on inquiry.

PYP UOI button on library OPAC's Visual Tab


PYP UOI page on OPAC's Visual Tab


Grade_1 button on OPAC's Visual Tab

BrainPop is a database of educational movies. It is an excellent and popular database with our students. The log in credentials for IST students and faculty can be found by logging in to the library OPAC or in student homework logs and Home-School Communication books.

Bite-size BBC Science is a website maintained by the UK’s BBC. The forces section on Bite-Size Science is just right for our first graders. More science topics are also available on the site.

The Visual Tab page for the grade 1 unit on forces also includes a list of IST library books suitable for the grade level. Some of them are checked out by the grade 1 teachers, but there still are lots of books available for students and parents to check out.

Have a favorite site that you’d like to see on the library OPAC? Email us the link. We’ll evaluate the site with its educational value in mind and will include it where appropriate.

Library OPAC Temporarily Unavailable

For reasons out of our control, the library OPAC is unavailable from home. Students and faculty received (or will receive soon) an email with instructions on how to access it from home.

Once you have located the OPAC using the emailed access instructions, you can log on to it using your own personal account or the quick login, which can be found on the student logs or the library brochures.

Please let us know if you continue to have difficulties accessing the OPAC from home. Our IT department is working on a solution, but it may require a week or two.

4 p.m. updateOur IT manager, Ms. Dora Hu, may found us a patch solution while the larger technical solution is being sorted. Access the library OPAC using the link below. 

Grade 5 Plays Trading Game

The grade 5 students are currently inquiring into the transdisciplinary theme, How we organize ourselves. They are focusing on their inquiries on markets. Their central idea is, “Marketplaces depend on the ability to produce goods and supply services that can be exchanged.”

The library OPAC’s Visual tab holds several online resources for this grade 5 unit. One of these is the online simulation called “The Great Exchange” from the Mariners’ Museum in Virginia, USA. This is an excellent simulation of the voyages of explorers in the 16th century.

Players are given the task of trading for three items. They must travel by ship across the ocean to different lands. They are beset by dangers but motivated by immense riches. Along the way, they learn the principles of trading.

Our fifth graders have enjoyed the game. See what they have to say:

“[This game] helped me because trading can be hard sometimes.” Annika

“It is connected to our unit because when we buy something, we trade with people who are selling the product.” Clare

“It helped me understand that trading is not as easy  as it sounds because you can get robbed, or your crew will fight and kill each other, or even you could run out of supplies!!! I would suggest to buy a lot of supplies in the beginning or else you will die like 9 minutes in to the game! It relates to our UOI unit because market places is where you buy and sell things which is basically trading items.” Dong Geun

To access the Grade 5 Marketplace page on the library OPAC, simply click on the Visual tab and navigate to it:

Visual tab -> PYP OUI  -> Grade 5 -> How we organize ourselves -> Merchants Game
Grade 5 How we organize ourselves

I made a Wordle word cloud with the responses of all the 5S students. You can see from the word cloud that they liked the game and that it helped them to start understanding the intricacy of trade.


Here is a Wordle word cloud with the feedback on the game by 5H. Once again, one of the main words is a reflective verb: “think.”

5H's trading game feedback Wordle


Bits of OPAC Unavailable

Some of the OPAC features will be unavailable from today to 30 November, as the Follett company will be carrying out maintenance to its computers over the Thanksgiving weekend. We had warned of the outage on this blog and on the library OPAC, but thought you might need a reminder.

You may find that you cannot access:

  • TitlePeek book covers and descriptions (There’s a link that usually appears under the image cover that will take you to summaries, cover images and other information for the title.)
  • WebPath Express
  • Destiny Quest

Full service will be restored by Monday. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Grade 3 Builds Cities

The grade 3 students are starting a unit into the transdisciplinary theme How we organize ourselves. They will be focusing on their inquiries on cities through the central idea, “Cities are organized to meet the needs of their inhabitants.”

As for all other units of inquiry in the elementary, I have created a page on the Visual Tab of our library OPAC to support students in their inquiries. For this unit, I found an online game that allows players to create cities with roads, buildings, and people. The grade 3 students gave it a try this week as part of their tuning in* to the unit. The game is called City Creator, and was developed by Denise Wilton and Cal Henderson.

City Creator Online Game

I challenged the third graders to trial the site this week after our initial demonstration yesterday and we will be discussing the experience next week.

We did notice that sometimes the site freezes and one can no longer drag the shapes to the map. Next week, we’ll create member accounts that will let us save our maps and edit later.

I showed the third graders how to get to the game via the library OPAC. You will need to access the Visual Tab of the library OPAC, , then click on the PYP UOI button and navigate to the grade 3 cities unit page.

Visual Tab on the IST library OPAC

There are three buttons on the grade 3 cities unit page. One of them is for a list of books in our collection on cities, one is to the City Creator game, and one is to a children’s page maintained by the American Planning Association. The latter is not a very dynamic page, but it’s hard to find materials on urban planning at a grade 3 level. If you know of better websites on this topic, please let me know in the comments.


*Tuning In is the first stage of the IST Inquiry Cycle. During the tuning in stage, students consider what they already know about the topic. Teachers assess prior knowledge and adjust the unit based on what they discovered about the students existing understanding of the central idea.

Apologies While We Integrate

The hole
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Juan Lois via Compfight

Last week, our IT department integrated the school management system Aspen with our library catalog. There will be a few hiccups while we work out the wrinkles. For example, you might find that your library account does not work to log you in. Try using your school network ID credentials, i.e., the username and password you use for the school email. If that doesn’t work, please email us.

We hope to detect all the small mistakes causing integration problems by the end of the week. In the meantime, use the library’s Quick Login. It is found on our brochure and the students’ homework logs.

OPAC Screen Changes

We recently updated the software that runs our OPAC to a version that allows for better integration with ebooks. The name of the software is Follett Destiny and it is quite effective in managing our catalog. Sadly, a couple of our favorite OPAC features were changed with the most recent update.

The first change is the landing page. The library OPAC’s address is That’s easy to remember. It used to take us to a page with a tree on it, which was not the page where we could log in. This prompted us to remind people to “Watch out for the tree!” and to first enter the library OPAC by clicking on the blue IST Library link.

This is the landing before before the update. The tree in the corner meant we were not yet inside the library OPAC.

Click on the image to enlarge it.


That tree is now gone, replaced by the Follett Destiny logo. Trying to log in from that logo page will still result in an error message, but now we don’t have the handy reminder that we’re outside of the library because trees do not grow inside libraries. If you have any ideas for an easy way to remind people to enter the library proper, please let us know in the comments.

New landing page for OPAC. Click on the IST Library link to enter the OPAC.

Click on the image to enlarge it.


The second change is the location of the call number relative to the cover image. It used to be that the call number would be conveniently placed below the cover image, if there was one. Now the call number is to the right of the books cover image, making it less obvious. While we can understand changing the tree to the software’s name, we don’t know why the company changed the location of the call number. It’s still visible though, so we can continue to use it to help us locate books on the shelves — something that grade 2, 3, and 4 students have had a lot of practice with lately. They’re experts at using the call number to find books.

I don’t have a screenshot of what a book record used to look like, but this is what it looks like now.

This is the OPAC record for a book.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Have you noticed any other changes with the new update? Let us know in the comments.

This Week in the Elementary Library

The secondary school has been out for Week without Walls this week, so things have been pretty quiet in the library. The 12th graders have been in all week, working hard on their extended essays, but for the most part, it’s been quiet.

The quiet ends, however, when the elementary classes arrive. We have been very busy this week. Here are the highlights.

Nursery, preK, kindergarten, grades 1, 2 and 3 enjoyed read-alouds of books related to their units of inquiry.



Grade 4 located books and websites for their unit on inventions. They used the library OPAC to search for titles and then located the books on the shelves using the call number.

Navigate the Visual tab from the main OPAC page.

Grade 5 had a Readers’ Advisory session. Readers’ Advisory, also called “book talks”, are sessions where the librarian presents different books that are sure to interest the class. 5H was very enthusiastic about the books I selected and every student walked out of the session with at least one book. 5S wasn’t as impressed. They’re a hard audience, so will have to try harder! Both classes logged  into the library OPAC with their personal account information to write recommendations and place holds on books that are checked out.

Log in to the OPAC to recommend or hold books

As if all this wasn’t enough, Ms. Nicol visited us as well and took photos of us. They are featured in her own blog, which you should be sure to visit as it gives an overall picture of life in the elementary school. Be sure to subscribe.

Inquiring into Heroes and Inventions

This week has seen grades 3 and 4 inquiring into heroes and inventions, their current units of inquiry. For both units, we have shown students to use Encyclopedia Britannica Online (EBO), which has a new layout this year.

To log in to Britannica School Online, you will need to first log in to the library OPAC. You can use your personal account information or the Quick Login, which can be found in the homework logs and the library brochures. After logging in to the OPAC, you get to the Home tab where you can scroll down to view all of our subscription databases. Britannica School Online is one of these. Click on the link and use the username and password given to log in.

Once you have logged in to EBO, you will see three levels of difficulty: elementary, middle and high.

Landing page for Britannica School Online


Elementary is for up to grade 4. Middle is from grade 5 to 8, and high is for grades 9 and up.

The elementary level has two levels of reading difficulty. The middle and high have three levels. All have a read aloud tool which will read the article. Starting from the elementary reading level 2, there is a translate tool which will translate the article into any language. Please note that it is a machine translation and so will not be perfect.

Speaker and translate tool on Britannica School Online


Britannica School Edition is just one of the many databases that the IST library subscribes to for our community. The grade 4 students are also using World Book Discoveries and Inventions Digital Collection to help with their unit on inventions.

We will offer two sessions for parents to “show off” our databases and other resources. Please join us. Register online via the sidebar. A bus will be provided for

  • Library Resources for Parents – Elementary on 17 September
  • Library Resources for Parents – Secondary on 24 September