Thursday, December 18, 2014

Twas the Night Before Finals

It's been so quiet in silent study, I had time to rework a holiday favorite!

'Twas the night before finals, when all through the library
Not a creature was stirring, not even Ms. Gary;
With note cards and Panera all over the floor,
How they all hoped for a perfect score.

The students were not even touching their beds ,
While visions of essays filled their heads
Most were exhausted and could only pray,
For impossible dreams – all A’s from Delay!

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
Quimby sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window he flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to his wondering eyes should appear,
But a caroling Seufert, and students with cheer,

There was also a character, near hidden from sight,
He thought in a moment it must be Ms. White.
More rapid than eagles her exams would come,
And she whistled, and shouted, and called out to some;

"On Faulkner, On Conrad
On final Exams.
On Woolf and On Cather
And Last Minute Crams."

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the library, the students they flew,
With an arm full of books, and Mrs. Gold too.

“Some pizza might help” students thought with a shiver,
But each place they called, refused to deliver.
How Govs’ life could be so cruel,
With a future depending on grades in school.

And then, in a twinkling, Quimby heard on the roof
Mr. Brandt yelling, “Exams are over in a POOF!”
“Just please understand the speed of sound!”
When down the chimney, Searles came with a bound.

He was dressed as a corn husker, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of papers he had flung on his back,
And he looked like an annalist just opening his stack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled, his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And Quimby laughed when he saw him, in spite of his self;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave him to know, students had much to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
If only kids wrote as well as they twerk!
Mr. Nelson would grimace, Searles s’pposed
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

His exams delivered
he vanished from sight.
But we heard him laughing
Outside in the night.

Ms. Howson has warned you
So just do your best.
"Happy Finals to All
And to all a Good Test!"

Monday, December 15, 2014


Amidst the chaos of the holiday season, the stress of exam week and the nearing of all kinds of annual deadlines, I am going to suggest you try something that may seem improbable. Meditate. Focus on the tedium at hand and be present in all that the task demands. Last night I watched a segment on 60 minutes that I found very timely as a reminder to mindfulness. We have all found that "zone" where we can work without distraction and intently focus on what the job before us is. Some may find it much easier to find this zone in a sport or a favorite subject area or when in love. But try it this week. On the eve of pretty much everything - tests, parties, gift buying and keeping up appearances, I invite you to focus on your breath and quiet the mind. Sometimes an internal OM can help to block out all of the chatter. Like the monks and toddlers do, (or my teenage son for that matter), when you hum, you prevent all other external stimuli from entering your mind. As a practitioner of yoga for over a decade, I see mindfulness as self discipline. One becomes alert and capable of using best judgement.


The reason I suggest dipping into the pool of meditation at this time goes along with my recent posts about reflection and learning as well as my desire to help Govs students perform their optimal for exams and beyond. I think of students as buddhas, infinitely capable and divine creatures. Pure vessels of miracle.
Give yourself a little time and space to listen to your breath and feel alive. Sometimes this is the hardest part.

Here are some great reads we have in the library if you would like to learn more about mindfulness and meditation. 

The Miracle of Mindfulness  by Thich Nhat Hanh - 294.344 NHA

Master-Mind by Maria Konnikova - 153.4 KON

Zen and the brain : toward an understanding of meditation and consciousness
by James H. Austin - 294.3 AUS 

The Tibetan book of meditation by Christie McNally294.3 MCN

Good Luck and let us know how we can help!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Better than Fiction

Yesterday I blogged about spending some time reflecting on your semester of learning. The importance of stepping away from the textbooks and opting instead to engage with the information in another mode got me thinking about our amazing nonfiction DVD collection. I know watching nonfiction dvds sounds like a threatening way to ruin some non academic fun time, but believe me some of these documentaries are inspiring, beautiful and riveting!
I thought I would list a few of my favorites here that I really think could enhance your exam week. They are guaranteed to provide some much needed relaxation AND scaffold your knowledge base in certain subject areas. Enjoy and Good Luck with your studies!


Dirt! The Movie

dirt! The Movie–narrated by Jaime Lee Curtis–brings to life the environmental, economic, social and political impact that the soil has. It shares the stories of experts from all over the world who study and are able to harness the beauty and power of a respectful and mutually beneficial relationship with soil.
But more than the film and the lessons that it teaches, DIRT! The Movie is a call to action. “When humans arrived 2 million years ago, everything changed for dirt. And from that moment on, the fate of dirt and humans has been intimately linked.”
How can you affect that relationship for the better? (


Girl Rising

Girl Rising tells the stories of nine girls from nine countries: (Sierra Leone, Haiti, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Peru, Egypt, Nepal, India and Cambodia). Each girl had her story written by a writer from her country and voiced by renowned actors. Their stories reflect their struggles to overcome societal or cultural barriers. (

The Botany of Desire

The Botany of Desire

They are four of the most ordinary plants. We've always had this idea that we are in charge, but what if, in fact, they have been modeling us? We don't give enough recognition to plants. They have been laboring on us, and they've been utilizing us for their own goals. There are four plants that have walked the road to accomplishment by fulfilling human ambitions - the tulip, marijuana, the potato and  the apple. The Botany of Desire allows us to look at our connection to domesticated plants from the plants' perspective. Of course, plants don't have awareness or goals, but by using our consciousness we can put ourselves in their roots to see things from their angle. When we do that, nature unexpectedly looks very different. We become aware that we're in the nature's web, not outside of it. These plants are reflectors in which we can see ourselves in a different way.

Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision

Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision (1994) Poster

Documentary of the designing and creation of the Vietnam War Memorial. Focusing on the controversy that arose when it was announced that the winning design was submitted by a young Chinese-American woman. Since completion, The Vietnam War Memorial has become one of the most famous memorials in the US because of it's spiritual and emotional impact on viewers of the site. The documentary also describes other memorials Maya Lin has created, including the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery Alabama.           

Planet Earth 

Planet Earth is a 2006 British television series produced by the BBC Natural History Unit. Five years in the making, it was the most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned by the BBC and also the first to be filmed in high definition. It is absolutely gorgeous to see our world in this way!

Tim's Vermeer : A Penn & Teller Film

Tim's Vermeer

Tim's Vermeer is a documentary film about inventor Tim Jenison's  decade long efforts to duplicate the painting techniques of Johannes Vermeer, in order to test his theory that Vermeer painted with the help of optical devices. This is a very fun and enthralling watch!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Reflecting and Learning

Reflecting on our learning is one of the most crucial elements in our overall education. As we enter exam week, I encourage students and faculty alike to reflect on what they have learned, how they have learned, and why this information matters on a personal level. John Dewey said, "We don't learn from experience.  We learn from reflecting on experience."

Many people might go through day to day school life and see each class, assignment and assessment as isolated, unrelated tasks, although it seems apparent that this is not a paramount way to constructing meaning from your education. Learning requires reflection.
You might think I am suggesting some type of solitary contemplation time, but not at all! What this librarian recommends is sledding with your friends, listening to music or checking out a film or art.
Reflection involves linking a current experience to previous learnings (a process in education speak, called scaffolding). When we recall information in various ways, whether kinesthetic, visual or auditory, we are processing the information all over again and encoding our brains anew. Not repeat and regurgitate! Synthesis!

Take Newton's laws for instance. Sledding is the perfect way to reflect on the concepts of inertia and acceleration!

Or, check out Clara's awesome classic cartoon rendition for physics!

                                     Displaying photo.JPG

Need help reciting poetry or reflecting on iambic pentameter? Listen to Jay-Z or the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Studying India? Check out Slumdog Millionaire or Monsoon Wedding.

Obviously, this type of reflection offers a bit of fun and relaxation, but don't underestimate the power of reprieve from the rigor of studying. Opting for a bit of fun and reflection can enhance how we synthesize the information we take in from our day to day studying. Processing information in different contexts allows the meaning to become engrained in our personal understanding of how the world works and why. 

Don't let your text books and notes suffocate your learning process this exam week. Make time for reflection and a wee bit of fun!

Case in point :  Albert Einstein conceived his theory of relativity while riding his bike!


Friday, December 05, 2014

Story Hour Fun!

Yesterday, we hosted our first Library Story Hour for faculty and staff kiddos! We had a LOT of fun reading Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and Jan Bret's (rendition of the Gingerbread Man) Gingerbread Baby. After the read aloud we made a craft based on Bret's book and had gingerbread cookies and hot chocolate. We had 9 fabulous children show up and had Ember and Jade on hand helping out.

Here are some images of our gingerbread baby houses

We are thrilled to offer this type of weekly activity to Govs' families and were happily surprised to see how many would join in right away. Stay tuned for next week's journey on the Polar Express. Get on board next Thursday, the 11th @ 3:30 and don't forget to wear your pj's!