The Indian Creek Upper School Library Blog

Category Archives: Library Lessons

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!

12-brain-rules

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)


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.

pj_2016-05-26_social-media-and-news_0-04

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: https://www.propublica.org/

National Public Radio: http://www.npr.org/

The CRAP Test Song: https://youtu.be/CMaLgec2XWY

Opposing Viewpoints in Context (you will need a password): http://infotrac.galegroup.com/default/crow66694?db=OVIC 

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!

 


calvin-hobbes-new-years-resolutions

‘Tis the season to make resolutions to make your life better; why not start with a reading resolution? Personally, I am going to try the Read Harder Challenge from BookRiot (find it here), but if you want something a little more chill, try the following:

  1. Read a book written by a woman of color.
  2. Read a young adult romance novel.
  3. Read a nonfiction book about science.
  4. Read a biography of a pop icon.
  5. Read an historical fiction set in pre-1900s America.
  6. Read a work of classical literature.
  7. Read a graphic novel.
  8. Read a book that inspired a movie.
  9. Read something that your friend wrote.
  10. Read an ebook.
  11. Read a young adult horror novel.
  12. Read your own diary or journal.

That’s one book per month! You can do it! If you need suggestions, see your friendly neighborhood librarian for suggestions and recommendations.


  1. Thou shalt write EVERY DAY. Even if it’s only a few words and you know that you’ll have to scramble to make up the lost words tomorrow, get words written TODAY. Is your computer broken? Use a pencil and paper! Don’t have pencil and paper? Download Dragon on your phone and speak your novel!
  2. Thou shall not erase ANYTHING. No erasing, no rewriting! Endeavor only to add words to your novel, not subtract. You can edit when November is over!
  3. Thou shalt set a reasonable word count goal. If you want that coupon code from FastPencil, make sure that you set your word count goal for something achievable! Sit down for an hour, see how many words you can write, and then multiply that number by 30. That’s your word count goal. Easy! Most young writers set their word count goals between 10,000 and 30,000 words for the month. What’s right for you?
  4. Thou shalt not peek over the shoulders of other writers. Don’t try to read someone else’s novel without their permission! It’s distracting and rude!
  5. Thou shalt take breaks at least once an hour. Sitting for too long, even when you’re on a tear, is not good for you! Get up for five minutes, grab a drink of water, jog in place, or step outside. You might even see something that inspires a chapter in your novel!
  6. Thou shalt update your word count. Watch your word count grow and grow! Constant progress will inspire you to new heights of writing greatness!
  7. Thou shalt not criticize your own writing. That’s your inner editor talking, trying to get you to doubt your obvious writing skills. Don’t listen!
  8. Thou shalt not criticize others’ writing. Be supportive of your fellow writers! Cheer them on, ask them questions, give lots of compliments! Then, when they ask you to edit their novel in December, go crazy with the red ink (respectfully, of course)!
  9. Thou shalt not shirk your responsibilities. Make sure your priorities are straight: homework, friends, novel. Or friends, homework, novel. But novel comes last.

It’s day 6 of National Novel Writing Month! How are you doing so far? Do you still like your characters? Do you know what’s going to happen next? If you need help (or emotional support), come visit the library! We have writerly books to inspire your writing, a writer’s emergency pack, and other sympathetic writers! Or visit the Young Writers Program for author pep talks, the Dare Machine for helping you get over writer’s block, and other great resources for writers. Happy noveling!


Uh oh! Did you procrastinate and now you’re staring down the barrel of a research paper or project that seems impossible to complete? Here are three tips to help you get your researching done and that paper turned in on time!

Working-Schedule#1. Make an assignment plan, and stick to it. We love the SJSU Assignment Calculator for breaking down the research process into manageable chunks. Just enter the due date and follow the clearly described steps for research success!

No-Google#2. Skip Google. Chances are, your teacher and librarian worked together to create a pathfinder for your research assignment. Check out the pathfinder and use the databases and vetted links that were compiled specifically for your project. You’ll save time and you can be sure that the sources provided in the pathfinder are trustworthy!

20100525whenindoubt#3. When in doubt, visit the library. Your friendly school librarian can help you locate useful resources, teach you how to use the tools and tech to complete the project, and even proofread for you! If you need help, just ask! Stop by, or get in touch with your librarian through email at library.indiancreekschool.org or tweet @missfetterolf.

procrastinationSuper secret tip #4. DON’T PROCRASTINATE! Use the SJSU Assignment Calculator on the very first day that you are given your assignment! Keep track of the steps that need to be completed by setting alarms in your phone or on a digital calendar. Give yourself little awards for reaching each goal; a doughnut here, 30 minutes of Netflix there, and before you know it, you’ll have completed the entire project and had time to enjoy some little pleasures! And visit the library for help on your next research project or paper!


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!

12-brain-rules

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. 16 – Jan. 22), the library will be a silent study-hall during testing times and after school.


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!


jstor_logo_large_0Part of a library’s mission is to provide its patrons with reliable sources of information. These sources come in the form of books, internet, films, periodicals, databases, and many more items that patrons can check out or use in-house. Now, the David G. Richardson Library is adding another reliable resource for the Indian Creek community.

JSTOR is a database housing archival and current peer reviewed scholarly journals, primary sources, and books on a myriad of subjects. According to their site, JSTOR “helps students develop research skills, critical thinking, and information literacy. JSTOR provides students with exposure to peer reviewed scholarly research and prepares them for their future studies, enables teachers to incorporate important scholarly literature into their classes, and provides librarians with a reference resource of over 1,500 academic journals and other content.” If you’d like to browse JSTOR’s shelves or search for specific information on the site, visit www.jstor.org (for access from the ICS campus), or see a librarian to learn how to set up an account that you can access off-campus. If you need help navigating the site, watch a few video tutorials here: http://about.jstor.org/video-tutorials. Happy searching!

Originally posted on March 19, 2013 on http://www.indiancreekschool.org.


Do you ever find yourself wandering through your library, unable to pick a new book to read? Wouldn’t it be easier to choose a book if you knew what other people were checking out and what they liked?

The librarians at the Upper School library are making discovery easier and browsing more fun with tools and displays both in the library and online!

Check out Destiny Quest, our library search interface that compliments the traditional library catalog. Here, you will find an up-to-the-minute list of the top 10 books checked out at the Upper School library, a list of new arrivals, and easy browsing tools. Download the free Destiny Quest app on the iTunes or Android app store for mobile browsing from your device.

When you’re in the library, check out the book displays set up on the bookshelves. Brand new books, recently returned items, and Gold Star books are permanent displays in the library.

library21Originally posted on April 27, 2012 on http://www.indiancreekschool.org.