The Indian Creek Upper School Library Blog

Nevertheless, #ShePersisted: a Reading List

#ShePersisted has become the new #NastyWoman after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell silenced Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren during debates on the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General on February 7. If you’d like to learn more about persistent women, check out these books in the Upper School Library today!

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Immigration and Refugee Stories for All Ages

In light of recent events, it seems more important than ever to remember that empathy and kindness are Creek values, Maryland values, and American values. Studies have shown that reading stories about people who are different than you can help you  develop empathy for those people and their unique situations. The next time you visit the library for a book to read, try out one of these books about immigrants and refugees!

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Rock Your Midterms with Dr. John Medina’s Brain Rules (part 2)

Time for more brain rules!

#7: “Sleep well, think well.”

Your brain is so amazing that it even processes information while you sleep! While you sleep at night, your brain is consolidating and processing the information that you took in during the day. Without sleep, your brain is more likely to need to re-learn that information. Here at Indian Creek, our classes and midterm tests start later than at other schools in order to give you more time to sleep, so take advantage it! Get plenty of sleep during your upcoming midterms!

#8: “Stressed brains don’t learn the same way.”

While quick bursts of stress – about 30 seconds or so – are good for your brain functions, long-term stressors can negatively effect the way you learn. Midterms can be a stressful time, so visit the library between tests to take a breather, read something fun, grab a 20 minute nap, or even do some calming yoga! Practice calming exercises that you know work for you, and see how well your brain performs with less stress.

#9: “Stimulate more of the senses.”

If possible, try to incorporate more than one or two of your senses while you’re learning something new. Are you watching a PowerPoint presentation or a movie? Try chewing gum or kneading a stress ball at the same time. Then, when you study that information for your midterms, recreate those sensory environments by chewing the same gum or kneading the same stress ball. With your teacher’s permission, take that gum or stress ball with you into the midterm. When your senses are stimulated, you’re more likely to encode and remember the information!

#10: “Vision trumps all other senses.”

Looking at images can help you encode and recall information much better than if you were to just hear that information. In this TED Talk, Sunni Brown talks about how doodling can help you retain and understand information much better:

If your study guides don’t come with images, add your own! Draw pictures or print out images that help you understand what you are studying and keep them with your studying guides.

#11: “Male and female brains are different.”

Male brains are more likely to remember the gist of an event, while female brains will remember the details. How can this help you rock the midterms? Get a study group with a mix of boys and girls from your class! You will get two different perspectives on the information, and will be more likely to understand it better!

#12: “We are powerful and natural explorers.”

Want to understand a topic better? Explore! Take the time to delve deeper into the topic by searching online, reading books, and talking to your teacher about what interests you. Taking an active role in your learning will ensure that you remember  and understand more information!


As you prepare for the midterms, keep these brain rules in mind. If you need help getting ready for your tests, visit the library! We can help you set up a study schedule, provide a quiet place to study individually or in a group, and give any other assistance you might need! During midterms (Jan. 13 – Jan. 19), the library will be a silent study-hall during testing times and after school.

(this is a repost from our 2015 post)

Rock Your Midterms with Dr. John Medina’s Brain Rules

Midterms are only days away! What are you doing to prepare? Are you planning on spacing out your studying? Getting a friend to quiz you? Using your study guides or flash cards? Cramming an hour before your test? Here at Indian Creek, we learn that everyone learns differently, but there are some things about the human brain that NEVER change. Dr. John Medina’s book, Brain Rules, can offer some great advice to make your brain work for you during the stressful midterm season.

brain-rules-mindmap#1. “Exercise boosts brain power.”

The weather outside might be frightful, but don’t let that slow you down! While you’re studying for midterms, remember to take some time to exercise your body, as well as your mind. Take a break to do some jumping jacks, run in place, or jog around the school! The increased flow of oxygen to your brain will increase your brain power!

#2. “The human brain evolved, too.”

The human brain is a learning machine! If you start to feel hopeless in the midst of your midterm studies, just remember that your brain has evolved over millions of years to do extraordinary things!

#3. “Every brain is wired differently.”

Indian Creek is a great place to learn about how you learn – this is called meta-cognition. If you know that you learn better when there is music playing, make a study-time playlist and get to work! If you need absolute silence, borrow some noise-canceling headphones from the library! Don’t be discouraged if it seems like your peers are catching on faster than you; every brain is wired differently. Practice study habits that you know are successful for your brain!

#4. “We don’t pay attention to boring things.”

Sometimes Netflix calls to us with its siren song, but resist! If you’re having trouble focusing during your study sessions, try the following things:

  • Shut off the TV in the background.
  • Shut off your phone. The constant beeps and boops of notifications coming in will make it really hard to keep your attention focused on your studying.
  • Take breaks every 10 minutes or so. Get a drink, do some jumping jacks, stand on your head! Just DON’T. CHECK. YOUR. PHONE!
  • Think about how the things you’re studying apply to you. You’re more likely to pay attention if the facts feel relevant to your life.  Talk to your teachers if you’re having trouble making these connections.

#5. “Repeat to remember.”

Repetition is the key to remembering facts. You lose most of what you learn 30 seconds after your brain receives the information! To remember the information you’ll need for your midterms, make sure to revisit your study guides more than once. The more times you repeat the information, the more likely you are to remember on test day!

#6. “Remember to repeat.”

This might sound easy, but the trick to studying with repetition is to space out the times that you repeat information to yourself. Repeating something three times fast, for example, won’t do you much good on your test. Instead, try completing 10 minutes-worth of one study guide, take a break and study something new, and then revisit the first study guide again, repeating the information for a second time. Then, repeat again!

Keeping Brain Rule #4 in mind, we’ll keep our post short. In the next installment, we’ll look at the next 6 Brain Rules and how you can use them to your benefit during testing season. Keep your eyes peeled for the second part of this series on rocking the midterms with Brain Rules!

(This is a repost of our 2015 post)

World AIDS Day

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Yesterday was World AIDS Day, a day to learn more about HIV/AIDS, support people living with the virus, remember those who succumbed to it, and fight for further research for a vaccination and cure. Although people living with HIV/AIDS no longer face the kind of systematic ostracization that they did in the 1980s, when HIV/AIDS outbreaks were at their highest, there is still a stigma associated with the virus and the people who live with it.

One way to fight ignorance and intolerance is through reading! Reading books that depict characters living with HIV/AIDS, their struggles, and their bravery, can help readers better understand the virus, how it affects those who are living with it, and how it affects their families and friends. Unfortunately, a preliminary search for young adult novels that feature characters with HIV/AIDS shows a few things:

  1. Young adult novels that feature characters living with HIV/AIDS are pretty rare.
  2. Young adult novels that feature characters living with HIV/AIDS are mostly in the “precautionary tale” vein, meaning the HIV-positive character is depicted as a pitiable subject who teaches the main character (and reader) about the dangers of sex and/or intravenous drug use.
  3. Young adult novels rarely feature characters living with HIV/AIDS in which the illness is normalized, meaning it is not the character’s defining characteristic.

That said, there are some YA novels that feature HIV-positive characters that are worth your time. Give these a try:

Blue Pills: a positive love story by Frederick Peeters

This beautiful graphic novel follows the love story of Fred and Cati, who is HIV-positive. In addition to learning how to navigate an emotional and sexual relationship while living with HIV, this novel also deals with every-day topics like raising a child, falling in love, and talking to mammoths. This graphic novel is just that – graphic; there are depictions of sex and adult language, so keep that in mind before you pick it up.

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

In this novel by popular YA novelist David Levithan, former boyfriends Harry and Craig attempt to break a Guinness World record by kissing for 32 hours straight. This novel is narrated by “the shadow uncles,” a Greek-chorus-style amalgam of men who died of HIV/AIDS during the 1980s epidemic.

I wish I could recommend more than two books, but I can’t! I’ll keep looking for more YA novels in which HIV/AIDS is handled with empathy and respect. In the meantime, check out Two Boys Kissing and Blue Pills. If you want to learn more about HIV/AIDS, check out the World AIDS Day website or visit the library for more information.


Why Information Literacy is Important

After the election of President-Elect Trump, many people were quick to point fingers at various media organizations that may have contributed to the unlikely election. One scapegoat that has popped up is Facebook, the world’s most popular social media website. The Pew Research Center has recently found that 62% of adults get their news from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit, and at least 18% of adults use social media for the sole purpose of seeking out news “often.”More alarming, the study found that 64% of Facebook users get their news from only one source, which means that many people who rely on social media for news are bound to get stuck in an “information bubble” that only reinforces what they already believe to be true.


Image credit: Pew Research Center

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, has already come out against the accusations that Facebook had a major influence on the presidential election. However, anyone who has used Facebook knows that the Newsfeed algorithm tends to set us up with links that we’ll be predisposed to “like.” We follow people who tend to have the same opinions on important topics like politics, civil rights, and equality. We block people who don’t share our views or who espouse ideas that are offensive to us.

The echo chamber effect is one of the reasons why information literacy is so important. “Information literacy” refers to the skills and dispositions that help people identify information needs and evaluate information for reliability, purpose, currency, and authority. In the current political climate, it’s important to hone skills that help you recognize bias in the news. It’s important to be able to recognize the difference between news articles and op-ed pieces on reliable news sources (a skill that Trump has not developed). It’s important find out more about the people writing the news, and looking into the backgrounds of the news sources. It’s important to entertain opposing viewpoints, especially when reading personal blogs or obviously biased writing.

With that in mind, here are some excellent resources to help you find reliable information and evaluate it:

ProPublica, a non-profit investigative news source:

National Public Radio:

The CRAP Test Song:

Opposing Viewpoints in Context (you will need a password): 

Still having trouble finding reliable information? If you need more help, visit the Upper School library or your local public library! Don’t let misinformation win!