VLUS Learning Commons

Vassal Lane Upper School, Grades 6-8

Check below for quick links to current projects or look under "Student Resources" and then "Grade Level Projects".

October 9, 2018

6th Grade: Social Studies

Creating a Virtual Brochure using Google Maps

Click here for reliable online resources and for your step-by-step directions!

October 2, 2018

Current Art Projects with Ms. Seeran

May 25, 2018

Congratulations to VLUS Poetry winners!!

Congratulations to the winners of the Cambridge Public Library & Cambridge Tree Project Poetry Contest 20th Annual Poetry Awards from Vassal Lane Upper School! This year we received nearly 1,400 entries, making for a very tough competition again! We congratulate everyone who entered for their wonderful poems.

VLUS winners are:

James Foleno, Third Place (tie), 6th Grade for “The Storm”

Luna Valayannopoulis-Akrivou, First Place (tie), Seventh Grade for “What Is Poetry?”

Analia Fister, Second Place (tie), Seventh Grade for “Stay Close to Me”

The awards ceremony and reading will be held Wednesday, May 30 at 6:00 p.m. in the Lecture Hall at the Main Library, 449 Broadway (next to Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School).

May 1, 2018

Science Showcase Resources

Double-check Ms. Brightman's site for expectations and resources.

Start with the Gale Science in Context Database to research your topic:

For access to all VLUS databases, go to the the full VLUS Database page.

Other online sites that may offer guidance:

February 27, 2018

C.A.R.T. your way through research!

It can be challenging to determine whether a website you're using is credible, but here are a few things to look for:

CART-ing Your Way Through Research

January 30, 2018

Grade 8: Movement of Change Research

December 4, 2017

Grade 7:

EPCOT World Showcase Project

November 27, 2017

Transfer Image Triptych Project

Check out the resources below to begin exploring a social issue that matters to you.

Artwork: Eric Rewitzer, Teachers 4 Social Justice

October 3, 2017

Evaluating Fake News

Click on the undoubtedly true quote from Abe Lincoln for resources to help you detect fake news.

Detecting Fake News

September 11, 2017

Sixth Grade Technology Introduction

I hope you learned something from today's chat! Click on the link below to set your passwords for Google and Aspen.

6th Grade Secure Passwords

June 1, 2017

Digital Resources through Destiny!

Did you know that the CPS library catalog has an app?

The app is called “Destiny Discover” and can be downloaded via the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Kindle, Nook and on a Mac OS X or Windows computer. Using Destiny Discover, students can search for the availability of a print book and also checkout ebooks and audiobooks!

Sometimes it is useful to have a book on your mobile device to read or listen to when traveling.

Audiobooks are also helpful when reading is a challenge for students. This medium enables the child to fully focus on the story without decoding text. If possible, it is recommended to have the child use the book as well, so their literary skills continue improving with both the written page and the audio narration. It is a wonderful way to keep on reading!

Steps to Use the App:

  • After downloading the app, select the state of MA, and then “John M. Tobin School and Vassal Lane Upper School (VLUS)”.
  • To see a book’s availability or to search for a title, you do not need to log in. Just click on “Browse as Guest”.
  • To digitally check out an ebook or audiobook for use, you must log in. Click the blue “log in” button and put in your student ID # for the username, and your network password (these are the same login credentials as Aspen). For teachers, it would be the network username (first initial, last name) and their usual network password.
  • If you click on the eBooks icon, you will see we have 213 titles to choose from.
  • If you click on the Audiobook icon, you will notice that we have 115 titles for your listening pleasure.

For audiobooks:

  • If you are signed in, just click on play and the audiobook will be checked out to you. Then the app automatically begins to download to your device. A few seconds later, just press play and start listening!
  • The top blue banner includes icons for going back to the previous screen, downloading the audiobook, returning the audiobook, a timer for setting the length of time you’d like to listen to the book, return date, table of contents, title info, and the help feature.
  • The bottom blue banner includes tools for returning to the beginning of the book, reversing the narration for just a few seconds, play/pause, going forward in narration for a few seconds and jumping to the end of the book.
  • In order to check out a different audiobook, you must open the app, click into the book that you previously listened to and click the cloud icon on the top blue banner. This will remove the title from your device. Next you will to click “return” from the Destiny book menu. Now that title will be returned to the catalog so others can check it out. We typically have only one audio copy of a book, unless it is otherwise stated.

Try the app and download an audio book! As always I am here if you have any problems or questions about the app.

May 1, 2017

Check out Sync Audiobooks for Teens!

What Is SYNC?

  • SYNC is an audiobook literacy program
  • SYNC introduces the audiobook experience to the teen audience
  • Two FREE audiobook downloads are available each week
  • SYNC engages summer reading programs in libraries and schools

How Does It Work?

  • Visit www.audiobookSYNC.com from April 27 – August 16, 2017
  • Select available audiobooks to download as mp3s
  • Sign up for alerts for the next titles
  • Share comments on social media

Download Details

  • Downloads are in MP3 format, hosted by OverDrive, and are Mac and Windows compatible.
  • Downloads will operate through the OverDrive app.
  • Most listening devices are supported.
  • Each SYNC audiobook will be available for download for a period of 7 days (only).
  • Titles, once downloaded, are yours to keep.

2017 Sync Audiobook Title Pairs:

April 27 – May 3

THE DEAD HOUSE by Dawn Kurtagich, Narrated by Charlotte Parry, Christian Coulson (Hachette Audio)

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY by Oscar Wilde, Narrated by Greg Wise (Naxos AudioBooks)

May 4 – May 10

FEED by M.T. Anderson, Narrated David Aaron Baker, John Beach, Anne Twomey & Tara Sands (Listening Library)

THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY by Douglas Adams, Narrated by Stephen Fry (Random House Audio)

May 11 – May 17

BRONX MASQUERADE by Nikki Grimes, Narrated Jessica Almasy, Cherise Booth, Kevin R. Free, Marc Damon Johnson, Sisi Aisha Johnson, Melanie Martinez (Recorded Books)

TEENAGE DIARIES: THEN AND NOW by Radio Diaries, Hosted by Joe Richman (HighBridge Audio)

May 18 – May 24

THE GATHERING: SHADOW HOUSE BOOK 1 by Dan Poblocki, Narrated by Dan Bittner (Scholastic Audiobooks)

IN OUR BACKYARD: HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN AMERICA AND WHAT WE CAN DO TO STOP IT by Nita Belles, Narrated by Nicol Zanzarella (Oasis Audio)

May 25 – May 31

FREAKLING by Lana Krumwiede, Narrated by Nick Podehl (Brilliance Audio)

BOY by Anna Ziegler, Performed by Sarah Drew, John Getz, Travis Johns, Amy Pietz, and Bobby Steggert (L.A. Theatre Works)

June 1 – June 7

BEAST by Donna Jo Napoli, Narrated by Robert Ramirez (Recorded Books)

OF BEAST AND BEAUTY by Stacey Jay, Narrated by Julia Whelan (Tantor Media)

June 8 – June 14

PLUS ONE by Elizabeth Fama, Narrated by Julia Whelan (Elizabeth Fama)

IF I RUN by Terri Blackstock, Narrated by Nan Gurley (Zondervan)

June 15 – June 21

THE RED UMBRELLA by Christina Diaz Gonzalez, Narrated by Kyla Garcia (Ideal Audiobooks)

THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK by W.E.B. Du Bois, Narrated by Rodney Gardiner (Dreamscape Media)

June 22 – June 28

THE WITCH'S VACUUM CLEANER AND OTHER STORIES by Terry Pratchett, Narrated by Julian Rhind-Tutt (HarperAudio)

THE WITCHES: SALEM, 1692 by Stacy Schiff, Narrated by Eliza Foss (Hachette Audio)

June 29 – July 5

AMERICAN NIGHT: THE BALLAD OF JUAN JOSÉ by Richard Montoya, Developed by Culture Clash and Jo Bonney, Performed by Keith Jefferson, Richard Montoya, Todd Nakagawa, Sean San Jose, Kimberly Scott, Herbert Siguenza, Tom Virtue, Libby West, Caro Zeller (L.A. Theatre Works)

MY NAME IS NOT EASY by Debby Dahl Edwardson, Narrated by Nick Podehl and Amy Rubinate (Brilliance Audio)

July 6 – July 12

REBUTTAL by Jyotsna Hariharan, Narrated by Phoebe Strole, Michael Crouch and Nina Mehta (HarperAudio)

REMEMBER TO FORGET by Ashley Royer, Narrated by Will Lasley (Blink)

July 13 – July 19

THE DORITO EFFECT: THE SURPRISING NEW TRUTH ABOUT FOOD AND FLAVOR by Mark Schatzker, Narrated by Chris Patton (Dreamscape Media)

SUGAR by Deirdre Riordan Hall, Narrated by Tara Sands (Brilliance Audio)

July 20 – July 26

GONE: GONE SERIES, BOOK 1 by Michael Grant, Narrated by Kyle McCarley (Tantor Media)

THE ONE SAFE PLACE by Tania Unsworth, Narrated by Mark Turetsky (HighBridge Audio)

July 27 – August 2

AIRBORN by Kenneth Oppel, Narrated by David Kelly (Full Cast Audio)

SHADOWS ON THE MOON by Zoe Marriott, Narrated by Amy Rubinate (Brilliance Audio)

August 3 – August 9

BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys, Narrated by Emily Klein (Listening Library)

IN MY HANDS: MEMORIES OF A HOLOCAUST RESCUER by Irene Gut Opdyke, Narrated by Hope Davis (Listening Library)

August 10 – August 16

SHADOWSHAPER by Daniel José Older, Narrated by Anika Noni Rose (Scholastic Audiobooks)

METAMORPHOSIS by Franz Kafka, Narrated by Martin Jarvis (Naxos AudioBooks)

Take our survey!

March 13, 2017

Social Media & Reading!!

Social media has made it so easy for us to connect to our favorite authors! Have you ever read an amazing book and wanted to thank the author for writing it? Well, now you can! Send them a quick Tweet (and you may even get a response).

Here are just a few accounts you should check out:

Your favorite authors are taking questions on Goodreads--ask away! In addition to helping you keep track of what you're reading, what you want to read, and what your friends are reading... Goodreads offers readers access to some of their favorite authors, discussion boards, trivia and games, and book giveaways!

Here are just a few fun pages within GoodReads:

Young adults authors are everywhere! Here are a few YA authors documenting their journeys on Instagram!

Kiera Cass (The Selection series)

Gayle Forman (If I Stay)

Jay Asher (13 Reasons Why)

Laurie Halse Anderson (Chains)

Sarah Dessen (Lock and Key)

March 7, 2017

The Book Fair is here!!

The Tobin/VLUS Book Fair is running March 6th-10th!

I hope that you will be able to make some time to attend the Book Fair. It is such a great opportunity to find books that will encourage your child to read for pleasure.

Book Fair Hours: Monday: 2-4:00pm

Tuesday: 7:30am-4:00pm

Wednesday: 7:30am-7:00pm

Thursday: 7:30am-4:00pm

Friday: 7:30-11am

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Using Online Databases

Databases are expert, accurate, and current information.

When you use any of the VLUS online databases, you never have to worry about C.A.R.T. – Currency, Accessibility, Relevancy, or Trustworthiness!

Use databases for authoritative, credible sources without advertising.

Click on Student Resources (above), then Online Databases.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What is a search engine?

  • A search engine is an Internet tool that searches for sites containing the words you designate as a search term.
  • Search engines deploy a robot program called a spider or robot designed to track down Web pages, follow the links these pages contain, and add information to their own database.
  • Different search engines search their different databases of information.

Google is not bad, but let's narrow our search results. Since we are looking for specific science resources, let's try one of these sites:

  • Sparticl is a web and mobile service for teens, a collection of the very best the web has to offer in science, technology, engineering, and math or STEM.
  • Sparticl includes answers to science questions, images, videos, games, and hands-on activities, all curated by a team of experts.
  • But it's also a place where teens play a critical part – ranking content, sharing it, and recommending new content, all the while earning points and badges.

  • Wonderopolis is an informational site that asks and answers interesting questions about the world. E
  • Every day, a new "Wonders of the Day" question is posted, and each is designed to get kids and families to think, talk, and find learning moments together in everyday life.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The VLUS Library want to hear your opinions!!

Please take our Student Survey to share your thoughts & idea.

Click here or on the picture below.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Have you "read" any good audiobooks lately?

Sadly, over the past year I have significantly increased my daily commute. However, not so sadly, I have also significantly increased the number of titles on my adult reading log (GoodReads). Listening to audiobooks has been a savior for my mental health (no road rage here!) and also increased my productivity as a librarian. Since being introduced to audiobooks, I've put classics on my list that I never would have wanted sit down and read, or would have been deterred by the old fashioned language. Plus, sitting at home for a long period of time after sitting in my car for too long isn't very appealing.

Some argue that listening to an audio books "isn't really reading." Listening to an audiobook is definitely different from reading the print book, but is it cheating? Does listening to audiobooks count as reading? For me, it has definitely expanded my reading horizons and helped with better understanding character traits and motivations.

Here are some other benefits of audiobooks for all students. Audiobooks can be used to:

  • Introduce students to books above their reading level
  • Model good interpretive reading
  • Teach critical listening
  • Highlight the humor in books
  • Introduce new genres that students might not otherwise consider
  • Introduce new vocabulary or difficult proper names or locales
  • Sidestep unfamiliar dialects or accents, Old English, and old-fashioned literary styles
  • Provide a read-aloud model
  • Provide a bridge to important topics of discussion for parents and children who can listen together while commuting to sporting events, music lessons, or on vacations
  • Recapture "the essence and the delights of hearing stories beautifully told by extraordinarily talented storytellers" (Baskin & Harris, 1995, p. 376)

With all those benefits, how can audiobooks be considered cheating?! Check out our FREE Audiobook Resources page and start listening!


Baskin, Barbara H. "Heard Any Good Books Lately? The Case for Audiobooks in the Secondary Classroom." Journal of Reading 38.5 (1995): 372-76. JSTOR. Web. 31 Oct. 2016.

Johnson, Denise. "Benefits of Audiobooks for All Readers." Reading Rockets, 2003. Web. 31 Oct. 2016.

Whittingham, Jeff; Huffman, Stephanie; Christensen, Rob; and McAllister, Tracy. 2013. “Use of Library-Sponsored Audiobook Club.” American Association of School Librarians.