Jonathan Alder High School Library
January 5, 2016
Back in December, I had the opportunity to visit the Jonathan Alder High School Library, along with State Library colleague, Janet Ingraham-Dwyer, State Library board member, Krista Taracuk, and OELMA past-president, Susan Yutzey.
We met with District Librarian, Dana Wright, who provided a tour of the library and shared information about the success she has had in using inquiry based learning at Jonathan Alder. She is joined and supported in her efforts by Assistant Superintendent, Misty Swanger. With the support of the District’s administrators, Dana has teamed with other teachers to teach and lead several inquiry based papers and projects and has helped teachers create essential and guiding questions in order to facilitate research. Examples include an inquiry research paper on the topic of deviance and social impact of crime in the United States for Social Studies classes. She is also in the process of developing a “What is the Truth?” project for the eighth grade junior high social studies team.
She has collaborated with the English Department Chair, Jennifer Danner, on several projects, including an inquiry project covering To Kill a Mockingbird. They are currently working out the details of establishing a writing lab based in the library. She has worked with other teachers to develop inquiry based projects in geometry and ecology and with a multi-disciplinary team to develop a project that will be required for all freshmen students. They will be reading Steve Sheinkin’s awarding winning non-fiction book, Bomb. This project will begin in the Spring of 2016.
Additionally, Dana has co-written an article on teaming and inquiry that is being published in “School Library Connection.” She has also written a chapter on math and inquiry for Leslie Maniotoe’s upcoming book Guided Inquiry for High School Teachers. She and Jennifer Danner co-write an inquiry blog on a regular basis.
One interesting aspect of the Jonathan Alder High School Library is the Teacher Inquiry Playhouse, a positive, collaborative workspace for teachers. Another interesting and equally exciting aspect of the library is that it was designed by students as an inquiry project. Students came up with ideas for redesigning the library space, selected paint colors, carpet, and furniture and were responsible for contacting vendors and contractors to get the work done. It is a design in progress but it looks great and it’s obviously a place the students have made their own. There were large groups of students in the library at the time of our visit. Some were working in groups to practice presentations, others were working in small groups or on their own to complete assignments, and others were reading. All were engaged in some form of learning.
Great things are happening in the Jonathan Alder High School Library and in the school itself. We appreciated the time Librarian Dana Wright, Assistant Superintendent Misty Swanger, and Superintendent Gary Chapman spent with us to share information about the outstanding teaching and learning that are taking place at Jonathan Alder.