Our school library is the heart and soul of an excellent school. It is always humming and filled with classes during the day and filled with students studying each lunch hour. In fact some students say they would like to be there at lunch but they are unable to get in as it is so full. Our Teacher Librarian Madame Monk welcomes everyone into the library at all times. The Library is being transformed into a Learning Commons. This means basically an open learning area with access to technology and access to wireless internet. It’s a learning area for everyone including teachers and students. Our Teacher Librarian collaborates with other teachers to plan lessons and helps teachers to develop best practices and strategies. She has an open door policy for all students. Teachers know they can send students any time of the day whether they are working individually, in a group, or a whole class could book in. The Learning Commons is a campus centre piece for research, computing, and presentation. The Smart Board is a presentation tool that is used by students, teachers, and guest speakers on a regular basis. The Learning Commons is a place for sharing knowledge and learning. We are trying to provide the technology that students need in order to access, evaluate, and utilize information in the 21 century. Some of the learning tools that have been utilized are web 2.0 tools eg. blogs, twitter, wikis, facebook, glogster, prezi, and poppletes.
A Library Science student project had them record at the check out desk all questions asked by students and staff and then they went on to create a Student Supply Centre . The Library Science students looked at their inquiries and decided how many of the questions they get are about learning, research, accessing, and evaluating. They were often asked for example do you have a glue stick, can I borrow scissors or a 3 hole punch? The students went on to create a Student Supply Centre which is self serve for students to get what they need to complete projects. There are pleanty of supplies which are gathered , found or recycled. This way the Teacher Librarian is able to focus on the teaching and learning aspects of the job. There is ownership of the Learning Commons as this place belongs to everybody. Students can help themselves , and return the books, resources, or items for next person.
The Learning Commons features technology that can be accessed as a tool for the learner and it is not a barrier. The open wireless campus that is coming soon to our school will help us with this. For example, students will be able to use their smart phones for research as well as the 32 computers for student and class use.
Step one of the transition to Learning Commons is completely user centered. There is flexibility is having various groups all working at same time. There is an open door policy. The Learning Commons belongs to the students and they have a right to be there. Our Teacher Librarian has joined forces with Mr. Pahal, our tech facilitator. They are working together to help provide inservice to staff. Madame Monk is able to break down the barriers with using the technology for research instruction. She shows them the data bases and teaches students how to do a bibliography. She collaborates with the subject teacher and does lots of team teaching. She also teaches small groups of students specialized skills. The Teacher Librarian has an important role in staff development. She provides other teachers inservice with web 2,0 tools for projects, eg . museum box. She will work with teachers to integrate technology and integrate Assessment for Learning strategies. Sometimes the TL and the subject teacher will create rubrics together. Teachers appreciate the support they receive from the Teacher Librarian.
Our Learning Commons is a happening place.