June at the Library

As I write this, our Seniors have finished all their finals and will be graduating next Thursday, and our other students have just one more week, all filled with final exams, ahead. Sadly, the library at this point becomes pretty much a textbook warehouse with all the textbooks stacking up on tables and even the floor until they get checked out again in the fall. (I’ll spare you a photo of what that looks like.) Still, the beginning of June was busy as ever with library activities. Here are some highlights.

Calculus Class Videos

I wrote in the May posting about the Calculus classes coming to work on instructional videos. In the beginning of June, we all enjoyed watching the various videos as they were completed. Here are a couple of examples, one made using our green screen, and the other made using Powtoon.com:

You can see more of the Calculus videos on the library website.

Using Our Green Screen

The green screen has been very popular this month. I demonstrated how to use it with Do Ink’s Green Screen app for Ms. Nielsen’s and Mr. Nodado’s AP Chemistry classes for their video assignments, and we had students using it to make videos for those classes and for AP European History, Calculus, and ESL Support classes.

Shooting a green screen scene
Shooting a green screen scene

One of the rewarding parts of sharing new technology tools with students is seeing them apply them in other contexts. The AP European History video was created by students who learned about green screen technology for their Chemistry class. And, one of the Calculus students shared how he used the Powtoon software he learned about for an assignment an Economics class assignment. Transfer of knowledge, of course, takes many forms. One of the Calculus videos included information the students learned in their Physics class.

Ms. Clarke’s class booktalks

I also wrote in the May posting about Ms. Clarke’s class visiting the library to learn about book talks in preparation for creating book talks they posted to YouTube and created QR codes in order to share them with classmates. It was a delight on Friday to have all her students come in the library and scan the QR codes now posted all over the library to watch their classmates’ book talks. Stand by to see some of them on the library website.

Library Club SWVBC

Our Library Club held our last meeting of the year on Tuesday, June 7, and we celebrated our four graduating seniors – Yuka Noda, Joanne Qi, Danit Rich, and Crystal Yu – who have been with the club and supported it and our library programs for all four years of their time at Mira Costa. Here’s a huge thanks And, we also had a cake for my retirement. 🙂

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The week before, on June 1, we had our final Somewhat Virtual Book Club (#SWVBC) meeting via Google Hangouts. Other participants this month included New Canaan High School in New Canaan, CT, and James Caldwell High School in West Caldwell, NJ. Instead of our usual discussion of one book, this month was a BYOB, “Bring Your Own Book” session: everyone shared a favorite book with the group. Here’s the list of our book recommendations on Goodreads, and here’s a recording of our session:

Photography Slideshow by Lyla and Lizzie

I was delighted to have several visits by two talented Photography students, Lyla Floyd and Lizzie Tsuang. They were completing an assignment on “A Day in the Life” of one of their teachers. I was honored that they chose me as their subject. Here’s their slideshow they kindly agreed to let me share here:

Mustang Morning News and La Vista Features

I was also honored to be featured in two articles in  La Vista on June 7. Here is the article about my retirement, and here is the article about my Sandacre Teacher of the Year Award. I was also included in a Mustang Morning News story about retiring teachers on June 6. Here is a link to the story.

May at the Library

Mira Costa was overwhelmed with testing in May – AP tests and Common Core tests for 11th graders. Sadly, many school libraries virtually shut down and become testing facilities this time of year. The library had its share of testing sessions; I helped several English teachers administer Common Core practice tests. Fortunately, though, most of the testing took place in other classrooms, and the library remained open for class and individual student visits throughout the month. Here are some of the highlights:

Book Talks Lesson

Ms. Clarke’s students visited the library in preparation for creating video book talks for their outside reading books. We discussed tips on creating an engaging book talk. We also discussed options for creating their videos and how to upload them to YouTube from either a computer or a mobile device. Finally, I showed them my favorite QR code generator, qr.snipp.com, since they will all be creating QR codes for their book talks and posting them in the library. Here’s an example of the beautiful QR codes it can generate, going to my video book talk on If I Knew You Were Going to Be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go, by Judy Chicurel:

Chicurel Book Talk

I look forward to Ms. Clarke’s class visits next month to share their book talk QR codes.

Health Class Digital Citizenship Videos

Health Class Digital Citizenship PSA Videos

Mr. Davidson’s Health classes visited for lessons in digital citizenship. We discussed being an upstander and not bullying or cyberbullying, building identies and positive digital footprints, online privacy, and respecting intellectual property. I used this slideshow as the basis for the lesson: (direct link: bit.ly/mchsdigitalcitizenship):

Next we went over this assignment, in which the students were to create a PSA video on one aspect of digital citizenship. We gave the students several days to learn more about their topics and work on their films. Finally, we had a day to share them with the class. Here are some example of their work:



Please visit this page on the library website to see more examples.

Calculus Class Videos

Calculus project

Last week, Ms. Gesualdi’s and Mr. Robertson’s Calculus classes visited to work on instructional videos on a calculus topic. We started by discussing intellectual property – copyright, Creative Commons, and fair use – in preparation for making the films so the students would understand what they can and cannot include in a published online work. We also discussed different software options for producing their films. As was the case with the Health classes, most of the students are choosing to use Powtoon, fun, easy, and free software for creating animated videos. Here is the assignment. I am looking forward to seeing their work next week. I will be posting it on this library webpage, where we currently have examples from previous years.

Library Club Poetry Open Mic and SWVBC Discussion

Poetry Open Mic event at the library

Last month (April) was National Poetry Month. Our Poetry Open Mic event didn’t quite fit into April, so we held it on May 6. We had a great turnout and everyone enjoyed hearing the students share their favorite poems.

Our library club also participated in our monthly “Somewhat Virtual Book Club (#SWVBC)” discussion of Winger by Andrew Smith. As always, the discussion was lively and the students and librarians all enjoyed visiting with the other schools in the group. Here is the recording:

And, some photos:



I am a member of the advocate board for the “Transform Your School Library” movement sponsored by Mackin, and I wrote a blog posting about our Somewhat Virtual Book Club for the Mackin TYL (Transform Your Library) blog. You can read that posting here

Geeks Club and Making

The Geeks Club has continued to support our making activities. Students have been taking advantage of our 3D printers, our green screen, and popular craft table. 

May Making


Feb. 22 to March 4 at the Library

Here are some of the library highlights since we returned from our Ski Week break:


February 24 was “World Read Aloud Day.” Every year World Read Aloud Day calls global attention to the importance of reading aloud and sharing stories. For several years now, librarians have been connecting students via Skype and Google Hangouts to other schools to meet each other and to read and be read to. This year, many libraries chose to celebrate all week in order to expand the options to connect. Two amazing librarians, Shannon Miller and Andy Plemmons, set up a Google Doc we could use to make connections. Scheduling sessions across different time zones can be a challenge, but our library made two matches. Our Library Club President Danit Rich read Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax to a 1st Grade class at Punahou School in Hawaii, and William Brown’s International English class read C. Alexander London’s New Day, New Friends to a Kindergarten class at Searington Elementary School in Albertson, NY. Our students were awesome!

Unfortunately, we had some tech issues connecting with Punahou, so, while we did get to read, and the 1st graders enjoyed it, there wasn’t enough time to visit as well. For the Kindergarten class, our students all got to introduce themselves, share what country they are from and how it compares with where we live, and to each read a page from the book.

And here are some photos from the library club reading:

WRAD reading

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Here is a recording of a portion of William Brown’s students reading and visit, plus some photos:

WRAD reading

WRAD reading

WRAD reading

Laura Clarke’s Freshmen English classes visited the library the week of February 22 for five days of research related to topics that will provide background information for their study of Romeo and Juliet. We explored different databases and print books and recorded citations and notes in EasyBib, with all the needed links set up in Google Classroom. We also talked about how to find copyright-friendly images for their presentations and how to credit them. Her 10th grade classes, that visited before the break to do research on topics related to Romanticism, returned on February 26 for a lesson similar to her Freshman students on finding and crediting images in their presentations. Then, they all made good progress preparing their presentations.

Stacy Cabrera’s 11th Grade English students spent four days in the library doing research for their Capstone project comparing two different literary works. We talked about how to find research material in Artemis Literary Resources, a literature research database available to us from the Los Angeles County Library system, about our own subscription databases as resources, about evaluating websites for quality, and note-taking and citations in EasyBib.

Greg Kloes’s 11th Grade U.S. History students visited the library for three days of research in preparation for creating their own magazines on different themes depicting the 1920s. We explored useful database sources for information and websites for finding photos and other images from the time using this library website link: bit.ly/historicalimagesources

SWVBC Afterworlds Discussion

The Library Club participated in its monthly Google Hangouts on Air book discussion with our “Somewhat Virtual Book Club” network of school libraries from around the country. This month’s discussion was of Afterworlds by Scott Westerfield. Here’s the recording of our discussion:

As always, the discussion was lively and participants shared what worked and didn’t work for them in the book.

3D Design and Printing

Our two 3D printers seem to be running non-stop these days! Over the last two weeks, I have been printing projects for Kate Martin and Amber Dixon’s Art 2 students as well as Bharathi Singh’s Algebra 2 students. The Art students used these instructions – bit.ly/2Dto3Dprint – to draw a design with a sharpie and then convert it to 3D in Tinkercad. The Math students did a very similar assignment; they drew a design with a sharpie, but with the requirement that it be a linear, quadratic, or cubic function and its inverse. And, on Thursday and Friday, the Robotics students visited to learn about how 3D design and printing work. Then, they worked on a project, also converting a design from 2D to 3D. The variation in their assignment from the Art and Algebra 2 students was that they created their initial design with Scratch, a graphical programming language, rather than drawing it.

Robotics class
Working with the Robotics Class

These similar projects for students in very different subjects demonstrates how cross-disciplinary the process of learning about and creating 3D designs is. Our 3D printers are truly helping to break down artificial subject area barriers.

Here are just a few examples of the recent work we have printed:

Math project on printer
Algebra 2 design set to print on our printer
Art Class 3D projects
Art Class 3D project examples

I also printed a set of conic section objects that make up a cone at the request of Christine Baral for her students:
conic section with credit

This design came from Thingiverse, a great site for finding and sharing 3D design ideas. These sections will enable students to actually hold and examine objects they normally have to mentally visualize from 2D illustrations.

This week, we will be printing the Robotics class assignments, and the students will be coming back March 10 and 11 to work on the same chess piece assignment the Computer Science students recently completed.

Valentine Serenades

Finally, I was flabergasted and tickled to receive not one, but two, Valentines Serenades from Mira Costa’s talented singers. The first video is from the a cappella serenade; the second is from the Sax Pax. Many thanks to these amazing students!