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Kelly and I are often asked what are the essential ingredients for a Learning Commons model of a library. We gave some ideas in a previous post (Link). Is the Learning Commons simply another name? School Libraries have gone through many name changes; Library, Media Centre, Learning Resource Centre and now the latest appears to be Learning Commons. Still, we believe that this evolution is more than just a rose by any other name. The focus, rather than being on the change in name, should be on the change in thinking and action. Often the queries are, “What kind of furniture should I buy?” “What digital resources do I need?” “What technology is essential?” “Do I still need books?”
Building a Learning Commons involves much more than adding in technology, buying some ebooks and making the furniture movable: instead it is about the actions of the teacher-librarian and school staff. You can CALL any space a Learning Commons, but it is just the old library? Is it simply a redecorated room without life or activity? If you get funky furniture and fabulous technology, but use the space only for exchanging books or as a computer lab for classes, you are missing the point. A true Learning Commons is about the Program and the Personnel. Would you have a classroom with the latest desks, newest devices and students, but without a program or a teacher?
We are riding a tidal wave of change. Technology is redefining our lives at an ever-increasing rate of speed, and education is changing to meet the needs of our students today. We are moving from; teacher-centered to student-centered learning, from paper and pencil to performance tasks and paperless classrooms, from focusing on summative assessment to developing and researching big ideas, from individual classrooms to collaborating with others, both locally and globally. The Learning Commons needs to reflect these changes, not with more things, but with attitude. Jeanne Narum, Director of Project Kaleidoscope, says that we need to focus on the right questions to drive the change. What are the learning outcomes? What will happen in the Learning Commons to move their learning forward? Who will collaborate to develop the programs for students. It is the action implicit in the words learning, happen and collaborate that should be our focus. If we “design the commons primarily with the intention that learning will happen there, we are much more likely to see that magical moment when students, building on work begun in the classroom, take responsibility for and control over their own learning. This is the crucial event that makes the library and its learning commons the last bulwarks of a culture of acculturation. They are places where you learn, and in learning, become part of a larger world.” (Bennet, 2011)
If we continue to think about the actions required to create a Learning Commons, we can create a list that has students at the heart; shared ownership, inquiry, technology, community, collaboration, creativity, and above all LEARNING. Implicit in these actions is the idea that the Learning Commons not only becomes the active hub of the school, the Learning Commons goes beyond the physical walls of the library, but permeates the entire school. Wherever integrated collaborative teaching and learning are taking place, THAT’s where the Learning Commons is.
What are your thoughts? Is your library a Learning Commons?
Lissa and Kelly
Bennerr, S. (n.d.) The information or the learning commons: Which will we have? Retrieved from http://libraryspaceplanning.com/assets/resource/Information-or-Learning-Commons.pdf
Bondi, G. (May 2011). Our learning commons: One "How to" for 21st century learning [blog post]. Retrieved from http://jo-online.vsb.bc.ca/bondi/?p=818
Gino Bondi http://jo-online.vsb.bc.ca/bondi/?p=818
Conducting Action Research to Evaluate Your School Library
How should teacher librarians or instructional leaders engage in action research to improve their school library and benefit students' learning? This book provides the answers.Teacher librarians need to get directly involved with the research process in the learning commons in order to create actions and strategies that will enhance student learning—and benefit their own professional development as well as demonstrate accountability through their action research efforts. This book provides practical tips and work spaces for educators at the local, state, and national levels, clearly modeling and explaining the process and the tools for conducting action research in a school library setting that will identify the program's strengths and weaknesses. The author coalesces current expert opinions on the topic of action research in the school library environment and highlighting what other teacher librarians in the field have identified as the pros and cons of using the process. Readers are directed to focus on mitigating the "cons" through the use of specific working pages and templates and by initially exploring "five favorite" links, thereby encouraging those who are new to action research to try what might otherwise seem a daunting process. School principals K–12 who read this book will be better equipped to support their teacher librarians and teachers in this important professional process.
• Supplies invaluable insights from experts and practitioners on the subject of action research
• Provides a clear model of the process in action
• Directs readers to additional resources that facilitate effective action research and timely topics for school library research, such as time management and technology in learning
Students create digital projects with images, music, videos, and websites to win an iPad Mini or annual subscription to one of Rosen Digital's online databases
New York (Feb 27, 2013) -- Help your students harness their creative energies while putting their 21st-century skills to use with a new contest from ThingLink and Rosen Digital. Students in grades K-12 can create Interactive ThingLink images, providing the opportunity to explore their interests and passions, connect multiple resources into a cohesive presentation, and share their projects with a large community. Visit ThingLinkContest.com for more information.
ThingLink allows students to connect audio, video, images, websites, and text into one interactive image presentation. Projects deepen learning as students delve into content through research to present knowledge and ideas as they learn while practicing digital literacy skills of image creation and selection, content curation, tagging, and sharing.
"ThingLink is o ne of my favorite and most frequently used tools because it supports active student participation and requires users to construct ideas as they create," says Susan Oxnevad, Instructional Technology Facilitator and educator for 26 years. "The tool can be very useful for designing and implementing the types of deep learning experiences required by the Common Core and it is also an effective way to help students develop digital literacy skills. ThingLink is fun, flexible, and intuitive!"
Eligibility: All students K-12 are eligible to enter. Teachers and parents may enter an image on a student's behalf.
Submission Deadline: Images may be submitted through May 1, 2013. Enter images at ThingLinkContest.com.
Winners will be announced on May 15, 2013.
Categories: There are 10 categories:
My Favorite Books or Authors
Science -- Think Like a Scientist!
Health & Well-being -- You, Your Family, Your Friends
Environment -- The World Around Us
Community -- Volunteering & Making a Difference
Money Smarts -- Earning, Saving, Spending
Art & Music -- Express Yourself!
Sports -- Game On!
History & Social Studies -- From Yesterday to Today
Animals -- Furry, Friendly, & Fierce
Students can enter as many images as they like. All entries are viewable on ThingLink.com.
Voting: Friends and family can vote on their favorite images by using a "touch" icon on a ThingLink image. The most "touches" counts for a portion of the score. A team of educational advisors will review entries and determine winners.
Prizes: One iPad Mini will be awarded to the top winner in each category. The winning school in each category will also receive one Rosen database subscription for a year (Teen Health & Wellness, Digital Literacy, Financial Literacy, or the PowerKnowledge Science Suite). Certificates will be awarded to second and third place winners in each category.