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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sturgis Charter Public School Reference Room News

March 2009

Business is booming in the school’s library this year as we collaborate with more classes on research projects than ever before. For example, we have worked with the English department on four major cross-curricular projects since December centering on Macbeth, The Great Gatsby, Fahrenheit 451 and The Sound of Waves. All four projects explored literature through historical research to provide context and enrich understanding.

Alicia Fenney's three sophomore classes researched Renaissance history and philosophy for research papers on Macbeth. Topics included humanism, medicine, Divine Right of Kings, great chain of being, Renaissance attitudes towards human nature, relationships between men and women, light/dark imagery and witchcraft. Students chose a Renaissance topic and demonstrated how these themes influenced Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

To understand the background of The Great Gatsby, Marsha Yalden's sophomores researched the Roaring Twenties, Flappers, prohibition, 1920's trends, the Jazz age and famous personalities of the period. Students turned their research into articles for fictitious 1920’s magazines and gave informal oral presentations on what they learned about the history of the 1920's as it related to The Great Gatsby.

After reading about a futuristic society in Fahrenheit 451, the freshmen classes of Marsha Yalden and Anna Heick Botsford researched the history of past and current Utopian models of living. The communities studied included the Shakers, Amish, Brook Farm, Oneida Perfectionists, Mormons and Zoar Separatists. Students wrote individual research papers and are now working in small groups to create their own Utopian societies.

Lastly, Steve McDowell's freshmen classes are reading Yukio Mishima's The Sound of Waves. To enrich their understanding of the text, some of his students researched post-war Japanese culture to see how traditional values have changed.

To prepare for research projects, we expand our resources by borrowing books and other materials from libraries all over Cape Cod through the CLAMS system. We sometimes borrow as many as 50 books for a research project. The Hyannis Public Library provides great support by letting us funnel all our requests through our neighboring library. If you see us rolling carts of books along Main Street, it is a sign that Sturgis students are being supported by local public libraries. In addition to the CLAMS network, we also use Boston Public Library and Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners online databases that are accessible from school and home. The school’s Reference Room may be small but our ability to use academic databases and interlibrary loan resources extends our research capabilities well beyond our physical walls.

Marion Weeks, Diane Klaiber, Marsha Yalden

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