Friday, April 13, 2012

NoodleTools - in the Parent Newsletter

I am trying to make our library more visible by writing semi-regularly for the school's K-12 online newsletter, which is sent out by email blast every Friday. I figure if parents read about the library maybe once per month, they might come to define the library as we do, as an active teaching and learning space enriched by collaboration, technology, and information in all formats, not just a warehouse of books.  This article I co-wrote with Yapha Mason, our Lower School Librarian, and it came out in today's newsletter, immediately after the lead story.

NoodleTools: It's Not About Pasta
by Elisabeth Abarbanel and Yapha Mason, Librarians

Changes in the research process in the past decade might make what your child is doing look foreign to you. For instance, almost every 3rd to 12th Grade research project has a NoodleTools element. What is NoodleTools, you ask? It is online software that supports all aspects of the research project, from organizing sources to note-taking to a final bibliography or works cited. The librarians have worked with the teachers to integrate this online tool to make the process collaborative and much easier than when we were all in school.
In the Lower Division, our students start to cite their sources using NoodleTools in 3rd Grade. They learn the basics of citation with one book from their ocean animal report. In 4th through 6th Grade they are expected to cite all of their sources, and they learn the different pieces of information needed when it is a book, encyclopedia, web site, interview, or even an iPad app. Ms. Mason works with the students on how valuable it is to keep track of the sources used, and the best ways to accomplish this. We teach the MLA format for citing at Brentwood School, preparing the Lower Division students for their research on the East Campus.

On the East Campus, all 7th graders receive an introduction to citing using NoodleTools. They can then start taking notes using the online notecard feature, which is required in 8th and 9th Grade. Imagine typing your notecards and storing them in “the cloud” where they can’t be lost or left at home by mistake, and are never too messy to read. Students invite their teachers to access their work cited lists and notecards, and the teachers can comment online to offer help and dialog about the process. When working on group projects, students can also collaborate with each other in NoodleTools.

As the research process gets more complex, students learn more and more citing and note-taking tips. Have you ever had to cite a YouTube video or a Tweet? Brentwood students graduate feeling confident they can cite any piece of information, regardless of the format. The students don’t have to worry about the particular punctuation or format of the work cited list (NoodleTools does it for you), and can use their time instead to think critically about the research. Already a scholar’s dream, NoodleTools is going through an update this summer and it should be even easier to keep track of sources and information in the fall.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact Elisabeth Abarbanel (East Campus) or Yapha Mason (West Campus) or look at our NoodleTools online help here: