District Departments » Curriculum and Instruction » Media


Claire Engle, Director of Digital Learning and Innovation
(732) 751-2480 x3844
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A memorable read-aloud story. The quest for a “just right book.” Research skills and database searching. In years past, when students visited a school library they were taught these topics in isolation; however, with the implementation of a new curriculum focusing on S.T.E.A.M. applications (science, technology, engineering, arts, & mathematics), Howell Township schools’ Media Centers are engineering innovating ways in which literature, research and science are layered in the pages of their new curriculum. The school district has transformed their Library Media Centers into 21st Century Inquiry Centers.

Take for instance the classic fairy tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Imagine a child’s surprise when at the end of the story the students are tasked with an inquiry based problem. They must now design a lock from provided materials to prevent Goldilocks from entering the Bears’ home. They design the lock, test it, re-test it, and present their findings to the class, working together to solve a problem. With this combination of literature as a springboard for inquiry, a S.T.E.A.M. based approach to instruction allows for students to experience a story on multiple levels. They are not just engaged listeners; they are now engaged problem solvers as well.

Topics of inquiry are not static to one grade level. On any typical day, a range of kindergarten, to grade eight students may express interests in learning about the Titanic, bridge design or recycling. It’s really not about the topic; it’s about the approach to the topic. Students of all ages are required to be problem solvers, team players, and independent thinkers.

In addition to the implementation of inquiry based learning, media specialists also provide opportunities for students to participate in MakerSpaces.

The MakerSpace movement has been gaining momentum in both public and school libraries. Historically speaking, libraries have been and continue to be logical places for exploration of inquiry. Now those inquiries can be explored beyond the book and computer, through opportunities for hands-on tinkering. From Lego stations, to crocheting and origami, MakerSpaces allow for students to explore and experiment without judgment or fear of making a mistake.

Our Media Centers serve as a link to literacy for our students in developing a life-long love of learning, reading, and books. Reading together and/or talking about the books your child has brought home from the Media Center can help develop an appreciation for literature.

Reading Rockets provides useful reading strategies for parents to help their children become successful readers. Take time to visit www.pbs.org/launchingreaders/parenttips.html where you will find tips to launch your child’s love for reading.
In Audrey Vernick’s Bark and Tim, the characters Bark and Mama do not get along. They need to spend more time together and the pond in their backyard could be a great place to spend the afternoon. Using popsicle sticks, straws, bubble wrap, and one foot of masking tape, a team of 1st Grade students at Aldrich School collaborate and utilize the Engineering Design Process to research, design, create, and then improve their prototype raft structure in Mrs. Gorski’s Inquiry Center. The raft must hold the weight of the characters Bark and Mama (dog and action figurines).