Introducing Jessica Weldon - Division Chair, Research and Social Sciences, and Michele Carlson - Social Studies Teacher
Academic Boosters Program, March 5, 2015
At the March Academic Boosters meeting Ms. Jessica Weldon gave an overview of the Learning Commons and Social Studies department, and Ms. Michele Carlson spoke about the research class that she teaches.
Ms. Weldon spoke about the Learning Commons and the resources available to the students.
The Learning Commons is a place for students and staff to learn outside of the classroom. It brings together into one space most of York's academic resources and services, including the library, academic department resources and faculty, the test makeup center, study tables, and more. It offers multiple spaces for students to work individually, collaboratively, formally and informally, with access to traditional and digital information resources, faculty from several departments, laptops, desktops, e-readers, presentation venues, and more.
Additionally, Ms. Weldon spoke about the latest happenings in the social studies department in the classrooms as well as plans for the future.
Ms. Carlson gave a presentation about Research in the Social Sciences Honors, the class she teaches in which students learn about developing research questions and conducting research, collecting and analyzing data, finding sources, and writing research papers.
Academic Boosters thanks Ms. Weldon and Ms. Carlson for joining the meeting and presenting to the membership.
Please continue reading for more information on these topics.
The Learning Commons offers a vast array of resources to York students. It is comprised of the Learning Commons North, and the Learning Commons South.
- The Learning Commons North (formerly the library) includes:
- Three large areas for classes to meet and work collaboratively
- Multiple tables for working with other students
- 20+ computers, 2 Media:Scape stations and 2 printers
- The school’s fiction and non-fiction collection
- Collegiate databases
- AP & ACT prep/study materials
- Copies of all textbooks used at York
- Academic Resource Center with teachers available to help students with questions/coursework before and after school and throughout the school day
- Study tables for students who have been recommended for extra help
- Study Seminar for students who take this course for help with their academic coursework
- The Learning Commons South includes:
- Test Make-Up Center
- Peer Tutoring
The Learning Commons opens at 6:40 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesdays. It is open until 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 4:10 p.m. on Friday.
The Test Make-Up Center is open from 6:40 a.m. until 4:10 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday and from 7:30 a.m. until 4:10 p.m. on Wednesdays. On Fridays the TMC opens at 6:40 a.m. and closes at 3:11 p.m.
The Learning Commons is staffed with Social Studies, English, and Science teachers for most all periods of the school day. Two teachers are available to help students during Learning Commons hours before and after school. Visit the Learning Commons website to see which teachers are available and when.
Looking at early tracking data for the Learning Commons, it is apparent that the students are making use of the facilities. Tracking of the months when students sought help the most showed spikes in September and December, at the beginning of the year and during the last weeks of the semester and final exams.
The Test Make-Up Center serves multiple functions. It is the testing location for special education students as well as for absent student make-up testing. The center is very well utilized with over 6,000 tests administered in the first semester of the current school year, an increase of +1,000 tests vs. year ago.
The Learning Commons offers a wide variety of very advanced databases for use by all students both at school and at home. Visit the Learning Commons or the Learning Commons website to see all that is available.
Another service of the Learning Commons is free peer tutoring. The peer tutor group is comprised of 61 students who have signed up to help other students during their free periods throughout the day. Students tutor in subject areas where they feel proficient.
The Social Studies department offers 17 electives. Many York students choose to take more Social Studies electives than the one required for graduation.
Currently all subject areas within the Social Studies department are working on curriculum documents to enrich instruction.
A Literacy Coach is working with the World Studies and American Government teachers to help them to impart good reading strategies to their students.
Students in many social studies classes are working with Chromebooks and providing feedback to teachers and the instructional technology coaches.
Ideas for new courses are currently in the early stages of development, including AP Seminar and AP Research classes (both 1 yr.). A summer school research course offering and summer school special topics classes with subject matter to be determined by student interest are also in the discussion phase.
Ms. Carlson spoke about how York is working to integrate research skills throughout the curriculum with a goal toward aligning students’ knowledge of research and “how to” with Common Core standards. Specifically, York would like to define what students should know at what age, is working toward solidifying research standards to do this, and will then set goals for each year to achieve consistency throughout all departments. Once complete, York will issue a formal document to outline the standards.
Ms. Carlson also shared an overview of the Research in the Social Sciences Honors course that she teaches. The course is divided into four units. The first unit is an introduction to the course followed by a unit which focuses on the process of writing a research paper using well-defined steps. Students learn about choosing topics and subtopics, developing a research question, how to utilize many different sources, and how to take notes. Ms. Carlson has the students use note cards to give them hands-on organizational experience to help them see how their information comes together to form a paper. The third unit is a behavioral science unit wherein students select a survey topic and collect data. The final unit is the capstone project for which students choose to write a research paper on an historical or political topic or complete a behavioral science project. The students present their papers at an evening program that they plan themselves. While most of the students in the class are seniors, some are sophomores. There is a final paper/project for those students in the class after the May presentation.
The semester long research class is very student driven and offers an opportunity for learning and success in many areas. Given the significant student interest in the class, the course is currently offered both first and second semesters.
Join Academic Boosters - It's Free!
York Academic Boosters are committed to raising school and community awareness of academic achievement at York High School. We do this by partnering with York and the community to recognize both high achievers and those who strive to improve; working to increase participation in and recognition of academically related clubs and activities; and advocating for strong and diverse course offerings that challenge every student.
We meet at York in the Yorker Room, generally on the first Thursday of every month at 8:30 am. If you did not already sign up to join AB via the packet of info that was sent to your home, you can click here for a printable form to mail in or please email one of our chairs: Elizabeth Dierksheide at email@example.com or Holly Kost at firstname.lastname@example.org. All members receive monthly minutes.
We look forward to your involvement!