Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Library of the Month: Reagan IB High School Library

In early January, the BadgerLink librarians received dozens of thoughtful and interesting questions from Reagan IB High School students. So we reached out to find out what they were doing. We were so impressed that we wanted to share their story with you.

Reagan IB High School Mother-tongue Collection
Image courtesy of
Reagan IB High School Library
Reagan IB High School is an International Baccalaureate (IB) school with a strong focus on research and college-readiness skills. Located on the far south side of the city of Milwaukee, Reagan IB High School has 1300 students and is in the Milwaukee Public Schools district. Students are challenged with IB assessments and require a top notch library to support developing these skills.

Reagan has a diverse population of students. The school is located in a neighborhood that has a fast-growing Southeast Asian and Arabic speaking population; English is not many students’ first language. In fact, 6% of the school population has limited English proficiency. To better serve the student population, the librarian, Matthew Wood, plans to purchase materials for the library that are translated into Spanish and Arabic. Next year, the focus will be to purchase mother tongue texts, books written in another language.

The library at Reagan is dedicated to teaching research skills, not just information. During senior year, almost 20% of students conduct a 4,000-word research essay completed mainly outside of class time. In the junior and senior History classes, a Historical Investigation project is completed in which students develop their own historical research question and find/form differing historical arguments about what happened based on evidence. Projects in other classes include: creating a production portfolio consisting of a film project and accompanying documentation, in-depth literary analysis, designing and conducting a lab experiment and other difficult and self-motivated projects.

Because of space restrictions, the library also needs to focus on online resources. Milwaukee Public School District and Reagan IB High School purchase a variety of databases for use by students, but also heavily rely on BadgerLink. Intense research courses focus on BadgerLink resources like Access NewspaperARCHIVE, History Reference Center, and Explora which provide both primary and secondary sources, as well as academic journals. One of the beloved features is, of course, the Ask a Librarian feature which helps students hear about good research techniques from somebody that is not their teacher.
Harry Potter translated into other languages
Image courtesy of 
Reagan IB High School Library

To help students use BadgerLink, Reagan IB High School created step-by-step walkthroughs of how to use BadgerLink for research on the Historical Investigation website, Extended Essay website, and in the future on a site dedicated to the library. To assist students, the educators at Reagan High School created a variety of slide shows sharing the best tools and databases to use for research. These slide shows allow students to go at their own pace which is important because students at different skill levels.

Reciting facts isn’t enough. At Reagan IB High School students are taught how to analyze information and draw conclusions. Every subject provides opportunities to engage content and learn how to think critically.

Written by:
Kara Ripley, Resources for Libraries and Lifelong Learning