Inquiry based research projects are the foundation of the Middle School Library curriculum.
Most of our students enter the Middle School with a strong foundation of information literacy skills and independent reading incentives from the Lower School Library program. Many new students join the Wheeler community at the 6th grade level. We begin with an orientation to the locations of the collections and the library online database specifically Destiny Quest. Each student is given a username and password to access their account on this interactive version of the database. They can place holds on books, create lists of titles as they continue to read independently and virtually browse the shelves giving them a great deal of control over their library experience. 6th graders are regularly scheduled by their teachers for independent reading and book talking opportunities throughout the course of the school year. The middle school library supports the independent reading of all Middle School students through recommended vacation reading lists, focused displays, book talks and participation in reading initiatives and book discussion groups.
All of the guided instruction in the use of the library resources for research is curriculum based and accomplished in collaboration with the classroom teacher.
The goal of the program is to prepare students for high school level research by the end of 8th grade. The inquiry based projects are developmentally appropriate as they move students from guided practice of the skills taught in 6th and 7th grade to a more independent exploration of resources and ethical use of information in its many forms in 8th grade.
Among the skills reinforced and independently practiced by the end of 8th grade is the competent navigation of the library web site. Students demonstrate an understanding of databases and the ability to effectively search them by using keywords and advanced search strategies selecting the best information to meet their research needs.
Ideally students at the end of 8th grade will have had the opportunity to define an information need, develop a thesis statement and successfully select the richest sources of information to meet the requirements for the project. They will be able to articulate what it means to use information ethically and demonstrate the ability to create a works cited incorporating the information from a variety of sources as they develop and communicate new learning.