Lauren Hannani culture editor
Every year, all freshmen are assigned the library project–an assignment that requires them to learn more about how to use the library and the resources it offers. Last year, the project was on hold while librarian Daniel Bradford transitioned into his first year at the school. However, Bradford and the English Department have designed a new kind of project for this year’s freshmen, and the instructions are a little bit different.
Instead of completing a “scavenger hunt” through the library website and writing about each resource, the project will now be an instructional video. Students will have to put their filming and editing skills to the test to teach their classmates about an aspect of the library, such as using the computers, exploring the databases and checking out books.
“What we are doing with this project is we’re just giving the students an outline of it, and they have to use their own creativity to fill it in. I have a feeling, knowing our students, that we’re going to get some very creative, fun and interesting videos out of this,” Bradford said. “The other project, you worked on it and you learned something. This project, you work on it and you teach others, too. And the product is different, too; it’s a paperless assignment.”
One of the motives for the project’s new instructions is to shorten the time necessary to work and complete it. Also, Bradford wants students to look into new additions to the library.
“It’s not that they didn’t like the other project, it’s just that it took so much time,” Bradford said. “Since that project was designed years ago, there’s so many things that students have to know now.”
English teachers Minna Kim and Paul Batcheller both worked with Bradford to design the project and finalize its details over the summer. They thought of ways to make the project more fun and appealing for students as well, coming up with a competition-type activity.
“Usually when I handed the library projects back, the kids didn’t want to see it again, even though they went through this whole scavenger hunt to figure it out,” Batcheller said. “So we made a competition out of it, and whoever makes the coolest video, Mr. Bradford will post it on his website as the students’ instructional video on the library. So it actually plays a role; if you made a good video, other students can learn from it.”
Batcheller hopes that the project’s objectives stay the same as before, but the students will now be able to incorporate activities they do inside and outside of the classroom to create a successful final project.
“I’m hoping it’s fun, creative and useful, but also fits the vision [former librarian] Ms. Boyarsky had with this project. Students are doing stuff like this in the real world; we all learn from videos now,” Batcheller said. “Plus, the videos are meant to be persuasive. Freshmen are writing persuasive essays now, so it’s good practice for them to practice arguing and persuading.”
Freshman Ace Tombolini is looking forward to using her virtual skills to complete the assignment.
“I think playing around with the editing and different types of screen recording will definitely make it more appealing,” Tombolini said.
They are also optimistic that the video will be fun and interesting.
“I like the idea. It seems a lot more 2017 and fun, rather than doing something that feels like homework and a lot of work,” freshman Nicole Boudaie said.
Along with engaging the students, Bradford’s goal is for students to be aware of the numerous free resources the library offers.
“Our goal isn’t for everyone to become an expert at everything,” Bradford said. “The goal is they know that things exist and can go online and access things, and come to the library and get things. So even if they don’t remember the exact procedure, they know that they can come to the library and find out.”
In order to make sure students continue utilizing the library, English teachers plan on continuing the tradition of the library project in the future, even if that means a few tweaks here and there.
“Freshmen don’t know anything. When I asked them what a database is, not one person raised their hand. So they have no idea…they all said they were just going to ‘Google stuff,’” Batcheller said. “They also need to know how to check out a book in the library; they ask me these questions all the time. It’s necessary to know these things. It’s a dry subject, but we’re trying to spice it up.”