Howard County Library
Teacher Notes From Howard County Library - Materials Category
  • Your Best College Application Essay

    image of 4 green apples and 1 red apple with a hand reaching for the red appleThe college application essay doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore. Students can learn tips and tricks Monday, September 17 at 7 pm as Howard County Library System’s Central Branch hosts Jill Kasprzak, director of college counseling at a private high school and former assistant director of admissions at Loyola University Maryland. The discussion focuses on the art of writing a good college application essay. The class provides helpful information about what college admissions officers are seeking, what makes an essay successful, how to brainstorm, and how to complete the essays without stressing out.

    Please encourage interested students to register for this class.

     

     

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  • Mango Languages

    mango languages database logoDo you want to learn Pirate? How about more standard languages such as Spanish, French and German? Practice languages like Vietnamese or Tagalog? Or even Irish or Hawaiian?

    Howard County Library System recently added Mango for Libraries to our growing collection of specialized online research tools. Mango offers forty-five multi-lesson classes for native English speakers in a variety of foreign languages, as well as sixteen customized multi-lesson classes for native speakers of other languages who are learning English.

    In addition, Little Pim, a companion collection of videos and resource cards, introduces preschool students to vocabulary in ten languages.  Little Pim teaches 60 words and phrases per session for a total of 180 kid-friendly words. Little Pim’s 15 languages include Spanish, French, Hebrew, and ESL English.

    Both resources require Javascript and Adobe Flash Player, and can be accessed from our list of Research Tools by selecting the Language subject area. Mango Languages can be accessed at any of HCLS’s six branches, or from school or home with your library card number. Add Mango Languages to your collection of language learning tools!

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  • E-Books for Secondary Students

    cartoon image of student sitting at computerHoward County Library System subscribes to a number of e-book collections that contain great information for secondary students. You can access these collections using a Howard County Library System card. The full text of the included books can be read on the screen, and can often be printed or e-mailed to an address you select. In addition, citation tools built in to these collections provide accurate citation information in your preferred format.

    We subscribe to multiple research e-book collections to provide your students with access to the widest range of available resources. Take a look at these collections by visiting our electronic resources page and scrolling down to the list of research e-books. Here are some highlights:

    • ABC-Clio: This e-book collection contains the full text of titles in science, history, and social science, as well as a small collection of guides to understanding particular titles in literature. If you’re looking for information about social issues, historical events, or scientific discoveries, look in this collection.
    • Ebsco e-books contains a wide range of non-fiction titles in multiple subject areas, including 164 works of literary criticism, many of which are Cliffs Notes.
    • Gale Virtual Reference also contains a wide range of non-fiction titles, with a particular concentration in science, medicine, and literary criticism. Your students could look in this collection for a book about an author they are researching. Look here for multi-volume encyclopedias in history, social science, science, and medicine.
    • InfoBase e-books presents a smaller collection, containing 116 works of literary criticism in the “Blooms Notes” series about particular authors and titles, as well as 22 titles in the “Careers in Focus” series. Also search here for titles in U.S. history, science, and the arts.
    • The Oxford Digital Reference Shelf provides access to the electronic editions of 21 multi-volume reference works from Oxford University Press. Look here for the Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, for example, or the Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895 and 1896-Present.

    A wealth of information is contained in this collection of e-books. As you make your students aware of available resources, show them these collections, or invite a research specialist from Howard County Library System to present these resources to your class.

    John Jewitt – Administration Office

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  • E-Books for Elementary Students

    Howard County Library System recently added four e-book collections for elementary students. One of these collections is TrueFlix from Scholastic, which combines introductory videos with online copies of age-appropriate nonfiction titles. There are ten sets of titles in the TrueFlix collection, divided into two main subject areas – People, Places & History and Science & Nature:

    screen shot of the true flix web page

    Within each subject area you’ll find a series of thematically-related titles, each of which includes an introductory video and an electronic copy of the book. With TrueFlix, your students can watch a brief video to introduce key concepts, then read the book!

    The TrueFlix e-book interface displays a selected title in a pop-up window. This new window displays a copy of the book, with animations that make the pages appear to turn. Text is easy to read, and the images are laid out on the page just as they are in a print copy of the title. Choose to have the title read aloud by selecting “read-along” mode. The narrator will wait until you turn the page, so that readers can discuss content or focus on a particular image in the book.

    screen shot of one of the true flix e books

    To see all of the content included in this electronic resource, you can view a demo video on the Scholastic website. As you’ll see, this is a powerful educational tool. In addition to the books themselves, Trueflix includes lesson plans and quizzes for each book in the collection, project ideas, quizzes, Grolier Online articles, and games with related vocabulary. Encourage your students to check out Trueflix!

    Check in next week for a review of our research e-book collections for secondary students.

    John Jewitt – Howard County Library System Administration Office

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  • Polaris Power-Tip for Teachers: Set It and Forget It!

    image of card catalog drawerDo you currently place holds on materials for you and your students through hclibrary.org?

    You may have noticed a new feature of placing your requests online with an advance activation date. For educators who know the wisdom of planning, this new feature is life-changing. Some examples of how to use this Polaris Power-Tip include:

    • You are an elementary school teacher and want to plan your read-alouds. You can now find and request your favorite books for the entire year! Requesting a copy of  The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything now so you can read it at Halloween is entirely possible. If you want it at the end of October, I recommend requesting it to activate in mid-September if you are using your A+ card, so you have it in plenty of time for a spooky read-aloud. Remember: Your A+ Educator Card checks out items for six weeks, so you have some wiggle room!
    • You are a middle or high school teacher who prepares a unit every February on careers, and you want to make sure you have a good variety of print and nonfiction video resources for your students. You can locate items at any time with a subject search, request them, then set your activation date for mid-January. If for some reason, your schedule changes (snow days?), you can always use your account to adjust the activation dates. The only caveat is that once the items have been shipped, the activation date is no longer adjustable. You can always request them again.
    • If you have trouble finding time to read for personal education or enjoyment during the school year. Maybe you’ve been wanting to read The Help, but you know you probably won’t have time until winter break. You can set the activation for early-December. Even though in August almost 300 people are on hold for it, you will continue to move up the queue until you reach the top spot, where you stay until you activate the request. You will easily have your book in time for vacation.

    I hope this feature helps you as much as it helped me! I use this feature extensively for planning my book clubs, personal reading, and for upcoming HCLS classes. Stay tuned for another great Polaris Power-Tip for Teachers soon. In the meantime check out some other exciting features of the new HCLS catalog!

    Sarah Russo
    Howard County Library System, Elkridge Branch

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  • Welcome Back!

    howard county library system logoWelcome back to Teacher Notes for the 2011-12 school year. We’re looking forward to connecting your students with great information this year, and sharing details of our resources and activities with you.

    So where to begin? Here are five things you might do to start the new school year:

    1. Download our 2011-12 Curriculum Enhancement Guide (PDF) for details of the many classes we can teach. Would you like to start a book club? Are your students beginning a research project? We can support History Day, Science Fair, Big 6 and Careers, amongst many others. Look on page 4 of the guide (elementary) or page 9 (secondary) to find the name and contact information for your A+ liaison, or use our directory. Each school in the county is partnered with one of our six library branches, and staff from that branch will serve as your first point of contact as you schedule a class.
    2. Complete the online application for an educator library card if you do not already have one. With this new card, educators may borrow up to 30 items each visit, keep materials as long as six weeks (42 days), borrow all library materials (except non-instructional videocassettes and DVDs), and renew materials once. A+ Educator library cards are not exempt from fines, but materials returned within 10 days of the due date will be fine free.
    3. Bookmark our elementary or secondary assignment alert form, so that we can assemble a collection of resources at your chosen branch for a particular assignment. Give us the information about your assignment ahead of time, and we will assemble a collection of age-appropriate resources for your students at the branch (or branches) of your choice.
    4. Ask us about our Specialized Online Research Tools, and about Online Homework Assistance from Brainfuse.
    5. Invite a research specialist and instructor to Back-to-School night to share these resources with parents and with your colleagues.

    We look forward to working closely with you this year to bring these and other resources to your students. Subscribe to the RSS feed of Teacher Notes using your favorite feed reader to have this information delivered to you.

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  • E-Books for kids!

    stack of books with mouse attachedSpring is here , and with it come some exciting new resources at the Howard County Library System! We have four new resources available for you to use with your students.  Check out  hclibrary.org/ebooksforkids

    The new resources include:

    TumbleBookLibrary has more than 200 children’s  books. Favorites like “The Paper Bag Princess” by Robert Munsch, as well as fairy tales come to life in an educational and interactive way. Other titles include: “Diary of a Worm,” “How I Became a Pirate,” “Miss Malarkey Doesn’t Live in Room 10,”  and “Tops and Bottoms. More accomplished readers can read read-along chapter books, featuring narration, sentence highlighting, and automatic page turning. Spanish and French titles are also available!

    BookFLIX , an online program for children, pairs 95  classic video storybooks with nonfiction e-books. BookFLIX builds a love of reading while reinforcing early reading skills.
    TrueFlix™ leverages 47 award-winning True Books content to help students hone reading skills, build knowledge of subject-area content, and cultivate 21st century skills.

    The International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL) operates like a bookmobile for the global age. The ICDL collection includes more than 4,000 books in 55 languages.

    Take a look around our digital collection. This is just the beginning!

    Shirley O’Neill, Administration Office

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  • Assignment Alert!

    image of explanation mark inside a red triangle

    So what, exactly, is an Assignment Alert?

    Is it broadcast on the police band radio? (nope)

    Is it a submarine command?  (A-OOGAH!  A-OOGAH!) (that’s just silly)

    It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with homework, could it? well …

    YES! It has everything to do with homework!  And our ability to ensure your students have everything they need to complete it successfully!

    When you assign a research project, book report, or any work that you suspect may land your students in the Library, you’re invited to visit our web site and complete an Assignment Alert. This online form is sent directly to the Research Specialist assigned to your school.

    In response, we may put related materials on display, call in additional resources from other branches, or prepare to offer instruction in the use of our electronic resources. We may contact you to confirm the assignment details or offer to visit your class to provide additional research instruction to your students.We may even be able to assist that one student who arrives at the Library remembering he had to research an African nation…but not which one or the questions he was supposed to answer.

    Every little bit helps – we love to help!  Visit hclibrary.org –> Students and Teachers –> Teachers to assist us, so we can assist your students.

    Katie George – Administration Offices

    This Week’s Hi-Lights: Research E-Books

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  • Pro vs. Con – The SIRS Researcher

    "Opposing viewpoints" assignments are pretty common, but Howard County Library does not have Gale’s "Opposing Viewpoints" database. Why not?  We don’t need it. If students are expected to do Pro/Con assignments at the Library, point them in the direction of the SIRS Researcher database.  

    At one level, SIRS Researcher is simply a straightforward periodical database. As such, by providing full text articles from 1,800 national and regional publications, it is quite useful  Still, the Library has  other products that do pretty much the same thing. What makes SIRS Researcher unique among our online holdings is that it provides assistance to students for opposing viewpoints assignments.  

    A "Leading Issues" box on the database front page lists over 300 topical Pro vs. Con categories, and clicking on any one of them will bring a student directly to a results page that both lays out the essential questions at issue and provides a student with a long list of full text pro and con articles for them to use in their analysis.
     
    The SIRS Researcher is not one of the better known Library databases but it is well worth gaining a closer acquaintance.

    Joe McHugh – Howard County Library Administration

     

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  • The ESL [English as A Second Language] Collection

    image of books on a shelf

    Howard County Library is pleased to highlight the ESL (English as a Second Language) Collection. Developed to provide educational resources for the needs of our foreign-born residents, the collection includes books and materials in audio and video format, so that students of ESL will have a variety of ways to reinforce their English learning experience. The primary customers are foreign born students who are learning the English language, however, this collection is also intended for Project Literacy students to acquire proficient English skills for work and citizenship.

    Materials are labeled with yellow ESL stickers. All materials in this collection can be searched by using the term “esl collection” through the Howard County Library online catalog www.hclibrary.org. This collection is generally shelved in the adult Non-fiction area, but the location may vary at some branches.

    Mai-Leng Ong – Howard County Library Administration

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