The holiday season doesn’t truly start for me until NPR’s (National Public Radio) annual book lists are revealed, beginning in late November. If you are a book geek, and I know for a fact that there are a number of you in our community, you have probably already begun to compile your list of titles to read for 2020.
People often ask me what some of my favorite lists are, so here are some to consider, in no particular order:
NPR’s Book Concierge: easy to search, “best of” lists for every conceivable category
WWB (Words Without Borders) The Best Translated Books You Missed in 2019: there are some absolute gems on this list and I love its inclusiveness and scope. For many in our community, you could read the original work rather than the work in translation.
Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of 2019: great lists divided into the following age groups: under 5, 5-9, 9-12, 12-14, 14 and up. Bank Street College “recognizes the importance of diversity in children’s literature and acknowledges and celebrates the voices and cultures of all of our readers” (from “Bank Street College Diversity Statement”).
Book Riot: “Always books, never boring” is Book Riot’s slogan and they deliver on this mission! BR has fantastic lists for every possible subject with witty write-ups. They recently posted this year’s Read Harder Challenge, which might be a fun endeavor for those looking to expand the scope of their reading or for some of our local book clubs to try.
New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2019 - easy to search by genre and carefully chosen books. NYT is a great source for book recommendations of all types. This is but one list among many that they publish.
Literary Hub’s The Ultimate Best Books of 2019 List- I like how this list from Literary Hub shows you how many times each work appeared on other “best of” lists. Topping the charts by appearing in 21 “best of” lists are Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (that title!) and Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys.
GoodReads 2019 Reader’s Choice Awards- Goodreads has thousands upon thousands of lists and is an easy to use site that is also fantastic for tracking your own reading, finding book recommendations, and loads more. Their 11th annual Reader’s Choice Awards is a good source for popular titles.
African Arguments: Best Books by African Writers in 2019 So Far- this list and content on this site is published by the Royal African Society, which has close links with SOAS Centre for African Studies at the University of London. This is a great list that should be updated soon.
Enjoy the holiday and happy reading! Please pass along the names of your favorite reads to our library team and send any pictures of your children or family reading to either me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to the Primary School Librarian, Ms. Jill Daley (for pictures of primary students and their families) at email@example.com. See you in 2020!
We celebrated Computer Science Education Week in the library across this week. The theme of this year’s Computer Science Education Week is #CSforGood- which centers around an exploration of the ways that computer science can be used to create a “more equitable and sustainable world” (CSforGood). Many students created short videos they posted to a closed video-sharing platform called Flipgrid in answer to these questions:
The roof repairs to the library are now complete and beginning this Thursday, 5 December, we will be welcoming everyone back to our renovated space! Thank you to all our community members for your patience with this process. Our coffee bar will be ready by the end of the week, too!
We will be OPEN this Saturday for our usual Saturday hours:
Please take advantage of this amazing community resource and come with the whole family. We have something for everyone, including board games, a Lego creation area, books for all ages (including board books for tiny humans and lots of adult fiction and non-fiction). We also have air con for the hot days so you can be comfortable while enjoying the space.
Next week we will be celebrating Computer Science Education Week (this used to be Hour of Code Week) in the library. Come have a peek and feel welcome to play with any of the tech tools and activities we will have on offer, including 3-Doodler pens, robotics kits, Cubelets, MakeyMakeys, circuitry kits, augmented reality coloring, and more. We look forward to welcoming everyone back in to our library.
Our Grade 12 DP students recently shared their Extended Essay findings with Grade 11 students, who are now beginning their EE (extended essay) journeys! The extended essay is an in-depth, 4000 word (max) study of a focused topic chosen from one of the student’s IB Diploma subjects. For many of our students this research influences their choice of university studies and careers.
Ms. Murphy, DP Coordinator & EE Coordinator, and Ms. Maguire, Secondary School Librarian & EE Co-Coordinator, have already had two extended essay support classes for the Grade 11 students to introduce them to the nature of the extended essay and to begin interest inventories to help students decide upon a subject area. By January students will have preliminary research questions.
Over the next year, the Grade 11 DP students will have more than twenty support classes, focusing on the following topics:
We celebrated the successful completion of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, level Bronze at our assembly on Tuesday, 12 November. Twaambo Chikoye (Director of the DofE award, Zambia), Mwaba Mwila (board member, DofE award, Zambia) and Driekie Smith (DofE award leader, AISL) issued students with their well-deserved certificates and badges.
In honour of the completion of their Extended Essays (EE’s), the Class of 2020 would like to invite you to a celebration of their completed research on Monday 18 November! Students will share their research questions, key findings, and reflections on the process during short presentations. All AISL community members are welcome to attend. Coffee, tea, biscuits, and cupcakes will be offered as we celebrate our seniors' achievement of this milestone.
Times and locations are below. We hope to see many community members there!
Jill, Sam, Lunyunge, and I extend our deep gratitude to the many parents and students who volunteered hours of their time to help us sort and reshelve nearly 25,000 books across this Monday to Wednesday. My grandmother always said "many hands make labor light" and I appreciate her wisdom more than ever in light of what we accomplished as a community, which allowed us to speed the process along. Even more important than books are the people in the library and we are excited to have you rejoin us in our renovated space!
We still have several projects that we will execute in the weeks ahead now that the building has been officially handed over to us. These projects include re-construction of the coffee bar and the building of treehouse / loft spaces for primary and secondary students. We will also construct some new shelving that will fit underneath the larger windows.
If you are new to AISL and have only visited us in our temporary Palm Pavilion space, please be sure to come see us now that we have moved back in. The space is bright, inviting, and comfortable! We have something for everyone! - Terry Maguire, Secondary School Librarian
The American International School of Lusaka (AISL) is the only school in Zambia, and among neighboring countries, to be accredited to administer TEN college-readiness, aptitude, or evaluative tests: ACT, AP, Cambridge Assessments, IB DP, PSAT 8/9, PSAT 9/10, PSAT/NMSQT, SAT I, SAT II, and SSAT. Indeed, in recent years candidates have traveled not only from other Zambian schools and provinces to take tests at AISL, but also from Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mozambique.
In addition to the IB Diploma Programme, AISL hosts a three-week preparation course for the SAT, which is taught by an expert trainer from who travels from the USA and conducts an intensive minimum 100-hour course each Spring semester.
On Wednesday, some students in Grades 10 and 11 took the PSAT/NMSQT: the Preliminary SAT. This is good practice for the real SAT, which is often required by American and US-style universities around the world. If the 11th graders are also American citizens, this test provides entry to the National Merit Scholarship Competition attracting full-ride university scholarships. One of our AISL students won this scholarship in the past (out of 1.6 million qualified candidates) and attended Princeton University, and three others have received ‘Letters of Commendation’ in recognition of their outstanding academic promise and acquired full-tuition scholarships.
Also on Wednesday, some 12th graders took Cambridge Assessment Tests. These are aptitude tests for highly selective UK universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge, and courses for which a high degree of aptitude is a prerequisite, e.g., medicine, physics, mathematics, etc.
All AISL college-readiness, aptitude, or evaluative tests provide testing accommodations for students with documented learning differences including extra testing time, use of a laptop, or a reader and a scribe. This allows all students to demonstrate their competencies regardless of disability.
Upcoming tests at AISL
November 2 – SAT II (Subject Tests)
November 11 – PSAT 8/9 (Preliminary SAT)
November 16 – SSAT (Secondary School Achievement Test)
December 7 – SAT I (Verbal and Reasoning) and SAT II (Subject Tests)
December 14 – ACT Computer-Based with Writing (American College Test)
Details for the 2019-2020 school year testing information can be found on the school website. This includes administration dates, registration deadlines, costs, and registration methods.
We are bidding farewell to our temporary library in the Palm Pavilion. It has been a fantastic space from which to operate while we await the re-roofing & updates to the library. We thank you for your patience in advance while we shift spaces, unpack the containers, and finish up last projects in the library. We are aiming to welcome students back into the library by Wednesday of next week (and are continuing to offer library classes in classrooms in the mean t, but may need to shift this date slightly depending on final details. The coffee bar will be rebuilt in the library over the next couple weeks- stay tuned!
- How have Colin Kaepernick and Serena Williams raised awareness about "dreaming crazy"?
- What effect does tube length have on the velocity of a projectile in a vacuum bazooka?
- To what extent can aeroponics be implemented in Zambia to combat food insecurity?
These are only a few of the questions explored by the Class of 2020 in their Extended Essays (EE's). Students submitted their final versions on Friday 25 October, much to the relief of all involved! The EE is a challenging year-long project that engages students in topics of their own choosing and culminates in a 4,000-word research paper. It's excellent preparation for university, and students will certainly appreciate its relevance to their future studies. Only a few more steps remain until it's officially done:
The EE requires substantial development in academic integrity skills, so this was an important topic in a recent parent coffee morning. The presentation, "Assessments and Academic Integrity in the DP", prompted thoughtful questions from parents and clarified how AISL supports our Diploma Programme (DP) students through the Internal Assessment (IA) submission process. It also included details about:
One question arose about requesting remarks and retakes for DP exams and IAs. To clarify, students who ask for a remark of their May exams or other assessment components will be awarded the remark score - even if it is lower than their original mark. However, students who retake an exam or submit a new IA (during the November session) will be awarded whichever grade is higher.
As always, please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions, comments, or concerns. You can reach me, the Diploma Program Coordinator, Monica Murphy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Office Hours: Monday - Thursday: 07:15 - 15:45 / Friday: 07:15 - 14:30