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!

Thanks to Grade 4

Grade 4 today helped find 23 books today!

We are almost finished with our inventory, and during their check out time, the grade 4 students helped us find 23 books that had been misplaced in the library.

4K worked on picture books and 4R worked on the secondary school fiction collection. All told they located 23 books out of a list of 57.  Each student received one to three slips with the call number, the barcode number and the title of the book, and used those to search for the books on the shelves where they should have been located.

Now we only have to find 892 more. It sounds like a big number, but actually that’s very good. Our inventory is now at 97.12%. Thanks, grade 4 students.


Reading is Everywhere!

Library certificates were awarded today to several of our elementary school students who recognize that reading does not only happen in classrooms and the library. The photos below are candid. The students were so engrossed in their reading, they didn’t even realize I was taking their pictures.

While I am sure that many other students read outside of their classrooms and the library, these were so eager to read they didn’t wait to get home.

Do you have photos of students reading? Post them to Instagram with the hashtag #istianjinreads

Reading Everywhere!

It’s great to see how so many members of the IST community loves to read. Any time I find someone reading, I try to take a snapshot of them, especially if I find them outside of the library.

Did you know that reading for pleasure has been proven to have a positive effect on student achievement? This article from  the UK outlines the positive connection between pleasure reading and achievement in math, vocabulary and spelling.

I’ve been posting photos of our library users on Instagram, using the tag #istianjinreads. If you have an Instagram account, you can tag your own photos of reading too. Just use the tag, #istianjinreads.

Here’s a few of our outside reading photos. Some are taken with my big camera and some are taken with my iPhone, so there’s a big different in pixel quality, but all celebrate reading.

(Kerly features twice in these photos. I know I can always count on catching her reading around school. Keep reading, Kerly, you’re going to be ahead of your peers in math, literacy and science!)

We Dropped Everything and Read last Friday

The elementary school celebrated two events today: Pink Day for Cancer Awareness and the last activity for International Schools Library Week – Drop Everything and Read. After a fact- and fun-filled assembly led by the student council, students from kindergarten to grade 5 came to the library to read for 15 minutes.

Not only was it heartwarming to see the support for the Elementary Student Council’s fund drive to benefit cancer research in China, but it was great to have so many students in the library all reading and enjoying each other’s company.

If you have smartphone photos from our pink DEAR time, please upload to Instagram with the hashtag #istianjinreads.

Triple Birthday Books!

We are so happy to see students participating in our Library Birthday Book Club. This week we have three students who celebrated their birthdays (and un-birthdays) with us.

Jun Seo donated Planes Fly, by George Ella Lyon. This book takes readers on a flight from boarding to landing, rhyming all the way. Jun Seo loves planes, trains, cars and all things that go, so this was a great fit for him. His classmates are eager to also check out the book, so be sure to put a hold on the book if you want to check it out yourself. Otherwise, you may have to wait a long time to see it on the shelves!

Dong Geun donated Cardboard, by Doug TenNapel. This is the story of a cardboard man who magically comes to life. He must help his young creator defeat the evil neighbor who is trying to animate her own cardboard creatures. Dong Geun enjoys graphic novels, so Doug TenNapel’s work is a perfect fit. He is the creator of Ghostopolis, which was a Panda Book for Older Readers in 2011. We are pleased to be able to obtain another of his dynamically illustrated graphic novels for our collection.

Annika donated Down the River Mysterly, by Bill Willingham. This is the story of a boy scout who is lost in the woods. He befriends several talking animals, and together they must outwit a group of hunters and their hounds. Annika loves the fantasy genre, especially when they include animal characters, so this book was a good fit for her. It is a suspenseful book, with flashes of humor. The River Mysterly, for example, is so named because the talking animal who named it meant to say “mysterious,” but being a young animal, did not pronounce the word correctly.

We thank all three of our newest recipients for their donations and congratulate them on their birthdays. We hope that they enjoy their books, and that they will recommend to their friends and classmates.

Parents wishing to enroll their children in the Library Birthday Book Club can do so electronically. The registration widget is also on the right sidebar. Please let us know at least one month in advance, and give us as much information as you can on your child/ren’s reading interests.

Elementary lunch recess in the library

We have one rule at the IST library:

We share the library with everyone at our school.

And share it we do!

During the elementary lunch hour, elementary students can come to read, draw, do crafts, challenge each other to a board game, use computers or play quietly.

For the most part, our elementary students respect the one library rule. This makes it possible for secondary students and our staff to also use the library at the elem lunch hour. Thanks, elementary students, for being such principled library users!

Here are some photos from today’s lunch recess.









Circulation Numbers for the 2012-2013 Year

The end of the school year (and the beginning of the summer vacation) is a great time to look back and reflect. One of the ways I do this is by looking at our statistics for the year. I’d like to share some circulation statistics with you. Circulation statistics count the number of times books are checked out.

I’ve already posted on the top 10 titles checked out in the year, with Squish No. 1: Super Amoeba in first place, which isn’t a surprise as it was the winner in its category for the 2012 Panda Book Awards and we had a Skype interview with the authors.


The top 3 homerooms in the elementary school for check outs this year were: (based on average checkouts per patron)

  1. 3W, with 83.62 average checkouts per patron and 1,087 total circulations
  2. 5D, with 69.94 average checkouts per patron and 1,189 total circulations
  3. 2H, with 64.23 average checkouts per patron and 835 total circulations

The top 3 homerooms in the secondary school for check outs this year were: (based on average checkouts per patron)

  1. 7S, with 84.5 average checkouts per patron and 1,521 total circulations
  2. 7T, with 77 average checkouts per patron and 1,386 total circulations
  3. 6R, with 52.14 average checkouts per patron and 1,095 total circulations

Congratulations to those homerooms. The more you read, the smarter you get!

For a complete list of the elementary homerooms and their checkout average this year, click here. This list of homerooms includes a grade 6 homeroom, and that because there is a parent who has children in grade 6 and in the elementary school.

For a complete list of the secondary homerooms and their checkout average this year, click here.


Thanks to all our IST teachers because they support the library in so many ways, not least by encouraging students to check out regularly.

I’m happy to report that the top five teachers will be at IST next year and are sure to continue promoting reading and inquiry in their classrooms and through the library.

  1. Ms. Ashton
  2. Ms. Simon
  3. Mr. Kimber
  4. Ms. Dingle
  5. Ms. Reston

Here’s a list of the top 20 teachers. They are listed by the homeroom name. Top Teachers by Circulation 2012-2013



The top 5 staff members for check outs this year are

  1. Jessica Yu (library circulation assistant), with 232 checkouts
  2. Jade Zhang (grade 4 assistant), with 190 checkouts
  3. Lan Qin (kindergarten assistant), with 129 checkouts
  4. Helen Gao (grade 2 assistant), with 125 checkouts
  5. Lisa Fang (library cataloging assistant), with 115 checkouts

Unfortunately, I cannot publish the report with the top 20 patrons as I have done with the other categories of patrons because the system includes personal information, but rest assured that our local staff checks out books frequently and in large amounts.


Last, but certainly not least, here’s the top 5 parents who have checked out this year. Thanks so much for being model library users!

  1. Hansa Thakwani, kindergarten parent, with 106 checkouts
  2. Ying Sun, grade 4 parent, with 61 checkouts
  3. Agnes Tassy, grade 5 parent, with 58 checkouts
  4. Preeti Shah, grade 1 parent, with 47 checkouts
  5. Aimin Zheng, grade 1 parent, with 46 checkouts

Looking forward to seeing you in the library even more next year!

All graphic novels can be found in the 741.5 section.

Skyped with Squish

We had the great pleasure this morning of Skyping with authors Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, who won the Panda Book Awards for Middle Readers this year with their graphic novel Squish.

All graphic novels can be found in the 741.5 section.

Squish is the story of an amoeba who, inspired by his favorite comic strip super hero, always tries to do what’s right. In this first installment of the series, Squish has to face up to the school bully and save his friend Peggy from being eaten. Our students love Squish and are eagerly awaiting books 2 and 3, which will arrive in time for the new school year.

Jennifer and Matthew Holm also write Babymouse, a very successful graphic novel series about a mouse girl with a lot of different interests.

All graphic novels can be found in the 741.5 section.

Our grade 3 students were able to watch the interview live and ask questions. When asked how they felt about winning the Panda Books Award, they replied that they were thrilled to be read by children on the other side of the planet from them.

The interview was recorded by the organizers and will be made available next week for other classes to watch.

We shared this Skype interview with International School of Beijing and Tianjin International School, who also participate in the Panda Book Awards, a reading initiative for international schools in China.


Happy Birthday, Rohan!

Congratulations to Rohan who celebrates his birthday with us for the third year since he arrived at IST. Rohan and his family have been great supporters of the IST library and we are delighted to receive his latest birthday donation, Mask of the Sensei, book 2 of the very popular Lego Ninjago series. We will be getting more next year with next year’s budget, so it was great to be able to purchase one more copy this year thanks to Rohan.

Rohan's Birthday Book Club Donation

Previous donations from Rohan were 6 books of the Animal Kingdom series and Dragonbreath, the elementary fiction graphic novel by Ursula Vernon.

We are particularly pleased with this year’s birthday book choice because the Lego Ninjago series is so popular with our nursery, grade 2 and 3 students.

Thanks again, Rohan, for once again celebrating your birthday with us. We wish you much success as a reader wherever life may take you.

If you would like to participate in the IST Library Birthday Book Club, please contact the library through the comments or by emailing library at istianjin dot net. A brief explanation of how the Birthday Book Club works can be found in our FAQs.