From Empathy and Virtual Reality to Math Escape Rooms: The Award Winning Work at the Norman North Library!

A Day in the Life of the Norman North Library

If you ask us what a typical day at our high school library is like, the answer is always going to be “depends on the day, but it’ll be fun!” With collaboration and co-teaching across subjects and innovative technology integration, take a look at some of that fun happening, and what makes it award winning!

Podcasting the Possibilities

Grant-funded and Donors Choose-funded equipment has allowed the school library to have two full mixing boards and four microphone set-ups and soundproofing to regularly use podcasting for projects and formative assessments. From a unit on voice with Intro to Acting, to using podcasting as a formative research project where students act as the experts in their research, podcasting is the most used technology tool in the school library. Whenever it is introduced, no matter the class or subject, a full example recorded with volunteers and on-the-fly scripting helps learners to see how easy it is to podcast all the possibilities.

Virtual Reality with Empathy and Storytelling

During two research units with 9th grade English, virtual reality was used for immersive lessons to help learners better understand the topics before diving into their own research on the subjects. Whether it was the power of story or empathy, various 360 documentary apps such as Traveling While Black, Notes on Blindness, or Anne Frank House give learners a more hands-on experience using school library-provided technology.

Fun with Math, Art, and Making!

The North School Library also regularly collaborates with subjects on how to incorporate making and hands-on creation into units over topics such as measuring surface area and volume, or 3D design and narrative artwork. When one of our math teachers came to us needing a space to do a hands-on activity, the answer wasn’t a no, but a “hey, this sounds fun, how can we help?” What was going to be various problems relating to circles and angles for Geometry students to solve in groups, turned into a Star Wars-themed escape room, where each problem helped those characters escape the Dark Side all around the school library, and students ended their journey coding Star Wars Sphero robots through one last obstacle course!


Following that spacey success, the math collaboration increased exponentially and also has included surface area and volume measurements of life-size castles constructed out of cardboard and Makedo pieces and a Triangle Olympics. While in the first year of cardboard creation collaboration learners could solve the math for extra credit, and a more intensive elaboration of this project will require more strategic building and mathematical equation solving. 

For the school library and art collaborations, 3D design students were taught how to create 3D designs in Tinkercad to then be printed by the 3D printers. The assignment was to create original chess pieces, and several have gone on to be used in the end-of-school-year art show. In a recent collaboration, the school library helped to provide narrative examples from YA titles in the school library collection to be used for readalouds and narrative drawing sketches. While learners read from librarian-picked passages, the rest of the class drew what they imagined the scene would look like, with final products on the way!


Award Winning Work

The school library’s work has been recognized with a few awards, including the 2021 Oklahoma Library Association’s New Librarian Award and Oklahoma School Librarians Technology in Education Award, as well as Teacher of the Year honors at the school and finalist honors at the district level. The North Library continues to be recognized and nominated by fellow colleagues for other honors and has applied for countless grants, which in the last two years have totaled over $15,000 that has gone back into the  school library in the form of technology and diverse literature.

Author: Molly Dettmann & Rachael Lester

Molly Dettmann and Rachael Lester are co-librarians at Norman North High School in Norman, Oklahoma.

Categories: Advocacy/Leadership, Technology

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