Living Report to the Community – 2016/17 NWSS Library Year-in-Review

This has been a transformative year at NWSS Library. There have been significant changes in the digital resources available and the physical layout. We are moving at a fast pace towards a Learning Commons. As always,  we strive to meet our goals of offering exciting opportunities for learning and discovery and serving the needs of all members of the school community. In line with our school growth plan of engagement , we asked ourselves, “how can the NWSS Library enhance student learning such that students comes to the library not because they “have to”, but rather because the library  inspires a personal investment in learning and a sense belonging ?

Ribbet collage year end library report 2017



We have updated our print collections to better serve the needs of independent readers. We have “genrefied” fiction and added the  category of “popular non-fiction.” This has made it easier to browse the collection according to interest and for us to visually inspect which areas have the most circulation and adjust our purchasing decisions based on student interests.

Ribbet collage physical transformation 2017Open Spaces.

We removed static desktop computers and replaced them with a cart of wi-fi enabled Chromebooks. New open spaces can be used for a photography studio, student groupings  or setting up student displays.

Technology in Learning

New equipment:  Digital camera, lighting, microphone, a green / grey screen , two 3 D printers, a cart of Chromebooks, arduinos, micro:bits, Spheros and more.

Virtual Library – Audiobooks

We’re trying to change attitudes in how we access books. We expanded our Virtual Learning Commons to include Overdrive Audiobooks. Audiobooks are a direct response to our September Student Needs Survey and also a way to enhance teachers’ professional learning by adding educational non-fiction to the audio collection.

Learning together with the community

1000+ students attended a week-long series of seminars about the politics, science, and economics of climate change during Climate Justice Week. We invited activists, scientists, and CEOs to our library who encouraged individual and collective actions towards a sustainable world. Also, thanks to Raz Chan, Mental Toughness Coach and author, Eilleen Cook, who volunteered their time to mentor our students.

Ribbet collage climate justice week


Ribbet collage library report 2017


Many classes learned sewing, coding, circuits, microcontrollers, and 3D printing. The resources came from many benefactors like the District Innovation grant, Fuel for Schools and the Micro:Bit Foundation. We also had our first Maker Fair which celebrated the innovations and inventions of our students and community.

Ribbet collage year end report


As always, we love opportunities to collaborate with teachers. We each participated in Innovation Grants. Ms Jones worked with Mr Tyler and Ms Crosby on Digital Makerspaces. Ms Wethered inquired into First Nations and Social Justice graphic novels with Ms. Sacco and Ms Patterson. The District facilitators were also frequent visitors and we aimed to strike a balance between working with individual classes and having large multi grade events so everyone could come to the library at least once.

Ribbet collage library report 2017
Hyack Teen Read Award

This is our 7th year co-sponsoring the Hyack Teen Read awards with the NWPL. This year’s winning novel was Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova.

We have strived to support and celebrate the learning of our students and teachers in as many ways possible. We are proud of our stories  of learning and look forward to more discovery and creating next year

Climate Justice Week 2017

The NWSS Library hosted Climate Justice Week on May 1-5. The week-long event showcased the science, the economics, and the social impact of global warming. There were 12  guests speakers and presentations with over 1000 students attending.

BROKE (Burnaby Residents Opposed to Kinder Morgan Expansion) opened the week detailing the environmental consequences of the KM expansion.

Entrepreneurs can be green and successful –  this was the message from Jerry Kroll, CEO of Electra Meccanica  and Erik Olofsson, owner of Olofsson Construction, a company that builds energy-efficient Passive Homes.

Youth have always been agents of social change.  Geoff Dembicki, lead sustainability writer for The Tyee, guided us through stories from his upcoming book, Are We Screwed:How a new generation is fighting to survive climate change.  Climate Justice through action by youth – this is the mission of Be The Change Earth Alliance. This non-profit organization has developed more than 40 classroom-ready lessons based on the principles of climate justice and concrete actions youth can take.

Climate Justice is an ethical issue. This idea was was introduced by Sheri Lucas, Phd candidate in Philosophy. Sheri Lucas, in collaboration with molecular biologist, Dr David Steele invited students to join the growing movement towards a plant-based diet. See their organization Earthsave Canada for compelling arguments and delicious recipes.

Global issues of migration and conflict were echoed by Padang Relief Society who  collected $300 from our students to relieve the famine in South Sudan. New Westminster  Sanctuary Schools policy was explained to us in its mission to  ensure access to school for children with precarious immigration status.


The politics, economics, and social impact of climate change where discussed by two candidates running for MLA in the the riding of New Westminster. Judy D’Arcy, campaigning for the NDP and Jonina Campbell, candidate for the Green Party,  encouraged students to exercise their democracy muscles by casting their ballots the following week in the Student Vote.  NWSS alum, Peter Julian, MP, gave a Canadian perspective on Climate Justice – social justice and environmental sustainability for all.

Thank you to everyone who attended Climate Justice Week and we look forward to seeing you in the Library soon  – Save the date for the first NWSS Library Maker Fair May 30 at lunch !

Ribbet collage climate justice week

Dr. Ethel Gardner – Halqu’emeylem language & worldview

Dr. Ethel Gardner grew up speaking French and English but when she wanted to learn her traditional language, Halqu’emeylem, she could not find any information. Over time, Dr. Gardner’s mission became to revitalize her traditional language and her dissertation researched the significance of Halqu’emeylem revival in the lives of the Sto:lo people. She learned that language is not only a new vocabulary, but also a worldview. This perspective was shared today with Punjabi, Spanish, French, and Art students who are similarly exploring the ways in which words make worlds. One of the many examples we heard today was how words are grounded in story. For example, the Halqu’emeylem word for Coho, sxwowiyam, a contains an origin story about a little berry that dropped in the water. Her thoughtful and personal presentation was a journey through her life, stories of resilience in those who speak Halqu’emeylem, and how language and identity are interconnected.DSC_0184

2015-2016 NWSS Library Report

2015-2016 was an exciting school year at NWSS Library. Ms. Jones and Ms Wethered’s overarching goal for the year was to move ever closer to the Learning Commons model. While our core values remain the same – resource-based learning, information literacy, and a love of reading, our journey into the question of what is a Learning Commons quite literally took us across the Fraser River and the Salish Sea. We visited schools in Saanich and Surrey , drawing inspiration from innovative colleagues, ready to share and support our change. Thank your SD40 Innovation Grants, BC Association of Teacher Librarians and NWTU for supporting our study.

DSC_0337We implemented new technological innovations so that students could be ever more creative in how they express their learning. Ms. Wethered led students through the creation of video book trailers while Ms. Jones used green screens , coding, and computational thinking. We made steps towards creating a Maker Space as well. Students constructed homesteads for Social 10 and our volunteers upcycled the materials for future projects. Ms. Jones taught basic parallel circuits to Planning and English classes so they could “illuminate’ their thinking in various ways.

We continued to advocate for social justice and provide a safe haven inclusive of all. Global Issues Week 2016 attracted 1500 students. On a daily basis, we worked alongside our industrious volunteers and shared laughs and experiences with the Star Wars, Dr. Who, and Movie clubs. We would sincerely like to thank NWSS PAC, parent participants, and community members (Vancouver Writers Festival, NWTU) for their fine contributions towards our resources and events. There’s an open invitation for parents to come to the library and see what’s new – perhaps participate as a guest speaker? Wish list : guest speakers, Maker Space materials.

Library events:

mining presentation (26)All candidates meeting for youth: NDP, Liberal Party, Green Party
Global Issues Week Speaker Series: Justice Theatre, BC ALPHA, Sexual Health, LNG Pipeline, Earthsave, Peter Julian , MP.
Foundations program Spring Tea
Mr. H. Marsden: Exploration Geologist
Hour of Code – in English, Spanish, and Japanese
Reader’s Theatre: Colin MacKay Memorial Bursary Fundraiser
Library Olympics
3 new art murals painted by students

Author visits:

Arno Kopecky. Oil man and the sea.
Elizabeth Stewart. Blue Gold
RC Weslowski. Spoken word poet and storyteller.
Julian Legere. Actor, director, & playwright.

Ribbet collage authors 2016





Reading programs:
hyack teen read award 2015 2016Hyack Teen Read Award. Hyack Book of the Year: Sisters by Raina Teigelmeier.
Million Page Challenge
Reading Challenge


Library-sponsored clubs:
Dr. Who club
Star Wars club
Knitting club
Library volunteers
Movie club
Cultural Universe club

Collection Development:
198 Fiction books
62 Non-fiction books

Some collaborative lessons and units:

homestead forestLibrary Science. Z block – 4 credit course.
Japanese History
Blind date with a book
Computational thinking and coding
Authentic First Nations Resources
Novel Study: Blue Gold
How to make a book trailer
Student-produced Library Orientation Video
Canadian mapping and geography for ELL.
Greatest Living Canadian of the 20th century
How to illuminate your thinking using electric circuits
English: Understanding Literal vs. Figurative meaning in picturebooks
Chicago, MLA, and APA citation requirements for IB Diploma Program.


Ribbet collage library report 3

Global Issues Week 2016

1400 students attended Global Issues 2016. Ten members from the community addressed maximum capacity crowds in the library. TelusWise Ambassadors reminded students about Internet and Smartphone safety.  This message was underlined by  the actors of Justice Theatre who re-enacted a real Canadian trial about cyber-bullying.  For the second year in a row, Amy Patterson answered youths’ top 20 questions about their sexual health. PatParungao, retired Teacher Librarian, delivered two participatory presentations on behalf of  BC-ALPHA , an organization that promotes an  awareness of crimes against humanity committed during WWII in Asia. Environmental Journalist, Arno Kopecky, took students through a masterfully narrated and visually rich journey from Peru’s Amazon rainforest through to BC’s Great Bear Rainforest. PACE Society educated us about Sex Workers’ safety issues and their rights as workers. Dr. David Steele, molecular biologist and president of Earthsave Canada informed us of the environmental impacts of animal agriculture. The Honourable Peter Julian, MP for New Westminster-Burnaby concluded the events by encouraging students to take a leadership role in their community. His message included the importance of participating in civic life, awareness and action through attending events like Global Issues Week, and unswerving dedication to school.

Peter Julian 2016

Peter Julian, MP

telus wise 2016 (5)

Telus Wise

Arno Kopecky

Arno Kopecky

Justice Theatre

Justice Theatre

BC Alpha

BC Alpha

BC Alpha

BC Alpha

Book review: From Master Teacher to Master Learner

From Master Teacher to Master Learner argues that  the teacher should be someone who models learning as opposed to modelling being a content expert. The teacher models learning by delving deeper into their own practice and emphasizes depth over breadth. Richardson’s “modern learning” uses technology as a tool for inquiry, and is student-led as opposed to teacher organized. The rest of the book is a toolkit of web tools and teacher dispositions meant to drive classrooms towards this modern learning environment.

The teacher as learner: computational thinking

IMG_0530Reading this book has encouraged me to continue to learn about coding. Having been given the opportunity to collaborate with Ms Cechini’s and Ms Kuo’s ELL classes, I encouraged them to learn with me about computers and technology. Since I don’t know very much about coding, I recognized this process as what Richardson calls “an equal partner in the learning.” It has been a steep learning curve, I had to confront math anxiety, and log more than 15 hours learning about computers, circuits, and innovations. However, the process has given me renewed energy for breaking new ground, I love seeing student engagement and I’ve received the unexpected gift of more family time. Mr. Jones is a software engineer and has been good about explaining the basics of computing . Our five year old listens attentively and has been my partner solving binary math problems. From Master Teacher to Master Learner is a quick read and a fine introduction to teacher development in the digital age.

Historical thinking and graphic novels

socials 10 2016 - 1Alyson King writes in “Cartooning History: Canada’s Stories in Graphic Novels that graphic narratives can increase students’ understanding of history because the genre, with its reliance on narrative, image, and dialogue, furthers the concept that history is a complex system with interrelated parts. As humans we tend to remember best through story and image, making emotional connections through colour and form, with language helping us recognize patterns of human experiences across time.  In this exercise, students from Ms. Desrochers’ Social Studies 10 class transform a linear presentation of history from their textbook into a complex interplay of image, voice, and point of view. Using the graphic novel, Louis Riel, by Chester Brown as a model, students used their creative abilities to reconstruct knowledge creating original works as a means of personal expression and understanding . Using the norms of graphic novels such as dialogue, action, and perspective, the students were able to get in the head of the characters and focus on the humanity that drive historical events.

Connection to redesigned curriculum – Social Studies 10 

Big Ideas (just a few) 

  • Developments in Canadian society can be view in many different ways depending on an individual’s worldview or perspective.

Curricular Competencies (just a few) :

  • Use Social Studies inquiry processes and skills to: ask questions; gather, interpret, and analyze ideas; and communicate findings and decisions.
  • Assess the justification for competing historical accounts after investigating points of contention, reliability of sources, and adequacy of evidence (evidence)
  • Explain different perspectives on past or present peoples, places, issues, and events by considering prevailing norms, values, worldviews, and beliefs (perspective)


socials 10 graphic novelss 10 graphic novel

Reading and the athlete’s mindset

I was recently on the blog written by my coach, Don McGrath, and find that his post on mental attitude resonates with our context here of developing our skills are learners, and in particular, as readers.  As in sport, our mental attitude greatly affects our performance as readers.

As proven by a number of research studies, reading is a gateway to academic and personal success. In other words, when you invest time to read, you are investing in your future. However, our mindset as we read determines how much reward we gain from it, in the same way that a productive mindset makes the difference whether or not we succeed in sport.

We can cultivate a positive attitude towards reading in many ways and I believe you can find avenues for improvement by  cultivating some aspects of the athlete’s mindset:

  1. Remain open. Expand your awareness about what reading can do for you in terms of helping you achieve your goals.
  2. Remain curious. Books allow us to encounter creative solutions to problems. Reading brings us close to others by uncovering our common humanity.
  3. Remain real. While it is hard to eliminate all negative attitudes overnight, keep training your mind just like you would train your body. Resolve to monitor your negative mental habits like giving up too soon on a book or jumping to conclusions, like that you are bored. As Don says, “notice your successes” instead of your failures.
becca caldwell

Becca Caldwell takes a break on El Capitan

Efforts to engage in reading can nourish us and make us better off today and tomorrow. If you love sports as much as I do, you know that your mental game is as important as your physical training. Keep fit and read, my friends !

Hyack Teen Read 2015-16

The Hyack Teen Read Award is a joint program between NWSS Library and NWPL designed to increase voluntary reading among New Westminster teens. This year’s nominees have been selected by teens and librarians who propose books to run against each other and then have our teen patrons choose the year’s most interesting book. NWSS Library has hosted three of this year’s authors- Ranj Dhaliwal (Daaku), Ashley Little (Anatomy of a Girl Gang) and Elizabeth Stewart (Blue Gold), all who engaged their audiences in fascinating discussions and read-alouds.

There is substantial research that proves that youth who read often, voluntarily, and have access to books, have  higher literacy and academic outcomes. We hope that by showcasing local and international books shortlisted by their community, our youth will receive even more encouragement to read.hyack teen read award 2015 2016

Library Highlights 2014/15

Another Great Year

The library continued to be a place of community and activity. There was an active demand for library blocks and usage  of our extended hours during lunch, before, and after school. There were two part time teacher-librarians, Ms. Jones and Ms Wethered, ready to help. As always, we play an active role helping students with research of all kinds, including our special programs such as French Immersion and IB.  We like to think of the library as the brain of the school and a safe haven inclusive of all.  In addition to supporting students, selecting, evaluating, and cataloguing print and digital resources, we also had clubs,  an array of events, and silent study periods.  We would sincerely like to thank NWSS PAC, parent participants, and community members (Megan Williams, Vancouver Writers Festival) for their fine contributions towards our collection development and events.  Feel free to click on the links to see more details about our services and events. There’s an open invitation for parents to come to the library and see what’s new – perhaps participate as a guest speaker? Wishlist for speakers : Women in sciences and maths, community activists, life after graduation.

School events:

Global Issues Week Speaker Series: Justice Theatre, BC ALPHA, MMIW,  Sexual Health, Amnesty International

Check your Head : Food Justice

Climate Reality with Dr. D. Tindall

Kinder Morgan Pipeline Expansion Project with T. Takaro & R. Walmsley

NWSS Electives Fair

Star Wars Day

Author visits:

Ranj Dhaliwal

Ashley Little

Alessandra Naccarato

Megan Williams

Reading programs:

Hyack Teen Read Award

Patron of the month

Reading Challenge

Collection Development:

236 Fiction books

79 Non-fiction books

15 Videos

Some collaborative lessons and units:

First Nations art – past and present

Framing and Inquiry – SJ 12 Research

Developing inquiry questions

Plagiarism : How to avoid it

Website evaluation: general and IB

Divergent Thinking gallery walk – SJ 12

Library orientation for new students -video

How to cite a website using EasyBib – video

Ressources en français

Teaching the Holocaust  – SS 11, History 12

How to read comics and using the document camera

IB: Citations using Chicago style

Citations using MLA style

Orientation  and advanced search techniques for online databases

First Nations of the West Coast Gallery Walk

SmartBoard interactive games and lessons

Pixton Comics for short stories

Assessing academic sources

Writing book reviews for Destiny online catalogue


Library-sponsored clubs:

Dr. Who club

Hyack Teen Read book club

Knitting club

Library volunteers

Movie club

Spanish club

Our Classes:

Ms. Wethered’s Social Studies 9 blog

Library Science student projects : Dewey Decimal ppt; Dewey Decimal quiz

Ms. Jones Spanish 11 : Metacognitive strategies for academic success

Self-assessment for oral participation

Setting language learning goals

Test-prep kit
library highlights Ribbet collage