My visit to Durham Catholic DSB was the first of 6 district visits in 7 working days! This was a great morning to start my busy week of visits. The team involved with LC met at St. Jude Catholic School in Ajax for a morning of learning, sharing and discussion. Ten people participated from 3 different schools including: 1-2 administrators, a teacher librarian and a teacher from each school. By having a team with teachers, teacher librarians and administrators this gives them leverage to truly build capacity around their LC inquiry question:
How can the implementation and use of a Learning Commons model in an elementary school promote cross panel integration of technology that will improve quality of learning and student achievement in mathematics for grade 7, 8 and 9 students?
The morning started with Helen leading the group through a discussion on how St. Jude has been able to transform their library into a learning commons including the challenges they had during the planning and implementation phases. She started the conversation by sharing a clip from Monster’s Inc: Monster’s University Battle. Too funny 🙂
The question is – What is a Learning Commons?
… a whole school approach to building a participatory learning community.
… the physical and virtual collaborative learning hub of the school.
It is designed to engineer and drive future-oriented learning and teaching throughout the entire school.
To meet goals of the learning commons the during the transformation, they made sure to involve everyone in the building: administration, teacher librarian, teachers, students and custodians. This helped make the decisions for colour, furniture, bookcases, location of carpeting and many more aspects of the learning commons. One of the challenges they realized early was the need to purge books since they were creating greater spaces for learning and reducing the number of bookshelves. They purged books that fell into any of these categories: fictions books that were not signed out for over 15 years; non-fiction books over 10-15 years old; books that were insensitive or non-politically correct books. They donated only some of the books and threw away the rest with the thought that if it was not good for them, it was not good to donate.
The work in progress now that the learning commons is open for business is the scheduling of classes in the new space. They have made the schedule flexible and available for multiple classes to access simultaneously. They are currently building capacity with the teachers to understand that it is ok to be in the learning commons when another class is present and they are investigating different methods to sign up for time slots.
Throughout the process they used the following resources to support their learning:
- Together for Learning: Ontario Library Association
- Leading Learning: Canadian Library Association
- Climbing to Excellence: American Library Association
- The Third Teacher: Capacity Building Series
- Facilitating collaborative engagement to cultivate and empower a community of learners
- Advancing the learning community to achieve school goals
- Cultivating effective instructional design to co-plan, teach and assess learning
- Fostering literacies to empower life-long learners
- Designing learning environments to support participatory learning
They will then collect data to measure impact, share their best practices amongst this group and work as a team to improve. They plan on sharing their experiences through Office 365 and meet again face to face. I am excited to hear about their transformation and successes!