News from Synergy School
Synergy’s library includes a rich collection of print books—both fiction and non-fiction— but last year we concluded that it needed an upgrade. A tremendous array of databases and other online information sources are now available to students, but our library didn’t have the resources or hardware needed to effectively access them.
A spring 2013 survey of Bay Area independent schools revealed that many of our sister schools had already taken a digital leap forward. We realized that Synergy needed to catch up to adequately prepare students for high school, college, and life-long learning in the information age.
We were able to enhance the library’s digital resources thanks to the generous support of our community. The 2014 Synergy Auction Fund-a-Need raised over $17,000 for the library. Thank you to all who contributed. We now have a library that will meet our student’s educational needs.
The resources we purchased will support classroom curriculum and teach students how to use digital databases. The library program has acquired access to eBooks and audio eBooks through MackinVia and StarWalk Kids Media. These two resources provide digital books for all levels, from Kindergarten through eighth grade (and some even beyond). As an added benefit, Synergy will own the digital resources rather than simply subscribing to them.
To stretch our funding dollars further, Synergy’s librarians and library committee members selected databases that will supplement those available for free through the San Francisco Public Library. With a library card, students can access the many digital resources available through the public library.
The first of Synergy’s new resources, PebbleGo, is for emergent readers. PebbleGo provides simple information about animals, science, social studies, and biographies of famous people that young children can use independently. PebbleGo includes images, a “read-to-me” feature, videos and activity games.
For our historians, the library chose CultureGrams, an online database of resources in both basic and in-depth editions. Each edition accesses geographical, historical, cultural, population, and statistical information from countries and provinces around the world. The text can easily be speech-enabled.
The largest new database, eLibrary from ProQuest, includes information found in current and historical books, maps, newspapers, magazines, editor-selected websites, pictures, audio and visual clips, as well as transcripts of radio and television programs on stations like CNN and PBS.
All of the digital resources can be accessed via the Synergy Library’s Alexandra Research catalog page from school or home.
We have also purchased four new iPads for the library. We are using the iPads to introduce the younger students to digital technology. Students in the Rainbow Room, for example, recently learned to connect to PebbleGo on the iPad, navigate to the categories in the “Animal” database, and choose an animal to research. Students explored how the articles are organized to find information about an animal’s body, habitat, food, and life cycle. Then students recorded what they learned on a graphic web worksheet. Students were excited and engaged throughout their research.
Thank you, again, to all who helped the Synergy School Library move into the digital age!
— by Carolyn Anne Karis and Susanne DeRisi, Synergy Librarians
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