A Learning Community
We began the leap from a traditional library model to a library learning commons in September 2012. Here’s a top 10 list of some of the most striking benefits of a Learning Commons that we have observed:
1. Physical LC: The space is open and inviting with no divisive stacks. There is space to create, to read, to build and to collaborate. Check out our transformation here.
2. Virtual LC: We use social media and digital student portfolios to share work and maintain a website that directs staff and students to the virtual learning commons.
3. Student Ownership: A comfort level in the space that meets a variety of learning styles translates into increased student ownership of the space, the materials and their learning.
4. Increased Engagement and Independent Learning: Students are actively engaged in the activities. We embrace the Maker Movement and celebrate the development of social emotional learning into our creative thinking and problem solving activities. Students need only small amounts of direction before they are able to explore and learn from each other. Far less teacher direction is required.
5. Global Connections: Students have a greater sense of the value of connectedness to the local and to the global community. This radiates from increased collaborative work in the classroom to discussing their ideas with a class across the country. Students post their work to a Global Fridge. The sharing of learning is intrinsic to the work flow, not an add on.
6. Increased Circulation: We continue to explore literature and promote a love of reading. Student engagement has lead book circulation to gradually increase by a full 30% over the last several years.
7. MakerSpace and Digital Makers: Including MakerEd activities has given students a new way to show their learning. Students are highly motivated to build, code, program. Using iPads to create and show ideas and thinking is intrinsic to the LC. Apps are chosen that are used to create not consume.
8. Information Literacy and Digital Citizenship: Important skills are taught in combination with projects or activities, not as isolated subjects. It’s not enough to ‘do’ research. The question becomes how are you going to use the information you have gathered. What big ideas or concepts does your information enhance? It’s the skills, not the content.
9. There Is No Fail: There are only steps towards success. Students readily take away what they have learned as they progress. The LC model is oriented towards celebrating all effort, no matter the outcome.
10. Real World: Skills learned in the LC translate into meaningful real world learning. Collaborative tinkering, inquiry, problem solving, making…the list goes on, are important skills for social emotional development and are lessons for life. Students are highly engaged when identifying a problem and designing and creating a solution.