Wednesday, 9 December 2015

What is a Learning Commons in 2015

By Annette Bennett and Steve Clark

So I find myself moving to my third learning commons in as many years and once again defining what a learning commons should look like. This process is never ending. We are finding it needs to be continually revisited to ensure we are meeting the needs of our students as best as possible.

A key point to remember is that the Learning Commons model does not replace the library, but rather, it enhances it.

People are always asking, "What is a Learning Commons?", "What is the difference?" 
A Learning Commons needs to be a for students. Not for storage of textbooks, outdated resources or technology that nobody knows what to do with. 

Annette and I decided to reflect on some things we have learned in our collective journey:
  • An important step and one of the hardest is to cancel full class book exchange. Once this happens, it frees up the Learning Commons Assistant to support students more effectively.
  • He/she is then able to support students.  Learning Commons needs to be for students. 
  • The students are told that this was not to be a "quiet" space but it needs to be a respectful place.
  • The students need to have ownership in the space for them to want to use it and take care of it. They are the decisions makers, especially if you want them to be there.  
  • Since Nose Creek School began in 2012 we opened as a Learning Commons - a space for the students. The students have always been involved in the decision making process. 
  • They asked for bean bags, lego, lego walls, building straws, Apples to Apples, Monopoly, Uno and Twister. 
  • The L.C. is always busy. Lunch time in the Nose Creek L.C.  is always active  with students building, puzzlemaking and playing games with their friends.
  • Students should be able to access things that they can't necessarily access in the classroom or at home. 
  • We provide multiple areas for students to collaborate.
  • Lots of different places students can work at high tables, low tables, White boards and glass tables to write on, carpets, stools, bean bags and standing areas.
  • We have students helping on a daily basis - locking computers up, closing blinds, returning books to shelves, signing books back in, reorganizing tables and cleaning up. 

About the Authors:

Annette is the Learning Commons Assistant at Nose Creek. She has worked in this great space since its creation in 2012. 

Steve is the Learning Leader of Technology and the Learning Commons at Nose Creek School. He has transitioned two elementary learning commons. This is his first year at Nose Creek. 

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Hour of Code - Students as Robots

Our students embodied robots for Evergreen School's Hour of Code. After courses were created, students ‘programmed’ their classmates to navigate the puzzles. Through building programs in sequential, logical order, the students will be able to apply this thinking to some upcoming programming tasks using Lightbot, Cargobot, and Scratch… Plus, it was lots of fun… “Like a game!!” 

(If none of the stuff below makes sense, the pictures should help. Or this is our LC Website about the task.)

Here is what we did: 
Part 1: Navigate my course! Students each write a program to go through a simple course made by a teacher.

Part 2: Build a course that can be solved in only 8 blocks. Students build a course and put their 8 blocks on the gray sheets. Then they mix it all up so others can play their game.  

Part 3: Play all of the games you can. Students go around the room and try to beat all of the other games that their classmates made. 

Part 4: Build a course with 12 blocks or 8 blocks and a protocol. Students repeat the task, but with more challenge. 

All in all, an exceptional day of playing with code... Students were thoughtful, engaged, and interested in making increasingly challenging levels. Next, the 4s become student leaders as we open it up as a maker station for the school… We’ll see how that goes!

Notes: Players begin on the first dot. The 'code' is on the left, the course they had to navigate through is on the right.

Here are some pictures of the learning in action...

Thursday, 11 June 2015

#YYCLC Day 174: Grade 1 and Google Presentations

These grade 1 students have been working hard to transfer their research into a Google Presentation (for the first time). So far, we have learned to:

  • Create a Google Presentation
  • Use Google's Research tool
  • Add 'free to use' creative commons licensed pictures and make them full screen
  • Add text and manipulate it

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

#YYCLC Day 173: Smart Notebook and Patterning

Grade 3 students using Smart Notebook to demonstrate mastery of patterning as part of a professional learning community's work.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

#YYCLC Day 172: Sketching Kali

Kinders and grade 1 students sketching what the see in Kali into their sketchbook - so many colours, shapes and patterns to see!

Monday, 8 June 2015

#YYCLC Day 171: Exploring Kali

Grade 6 students taking turns exploring Kali before completing a free write on where the perfect home for Kali should be.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

#YYCLC Day 170: Welcome Kali!

Welcome "Kali" the kaleidoscope to Keeler School. Kids are exploring this life-sized invention created by a Calgary lawyer.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

#YYCLC Day 169

It's awesome to have students share their new learning with their peers. Here, a grade 2 student is showing how he learned to use the subtract tool in the Morphi App when designing in 3D.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

#YYCLC Day 168: Design Thinking and 3D Printing

One thing that we have always needed is a way to keep our headphones organized. What better way to do so than to design and print a solution to this problem. Thanks to Morphi app and our MakerBot 3D printer, we were able to do so with ease! 

Monday, 1 June 2015

#YYCLC Day 167: The Triops is growing!

Our pet Triops is growing fast by the day. In it's spare time, he/she likes to do flips and somersaults in the water!

Friday, 29 May 2015

#YYCLC Day 166: Improving the Physical Space

This month we ordered and received some new book shelves from Moen Woodworks for our learning commons thanks to our Education Matters grant. It's nice to be abel to slowly change and improve our physical space to meet the needs of our students. 

Thursday, 28 May 2015

#YYCLC Day 165: Designing Metroplis

Grade 3 is currently working to design a piece of metropolis using Morphi App. We are integrating math and science to building and print city in our classroom.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

#YYCLC Day 164: Interactive Displays!

This grade 5 class has been busy putting together an interactive display in the learning commons. They have been working on creating websites to go with their 3D Map they created with plastercine. The websites are linked to and accessed via the QR codes.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

#YYCLC Day 163: Observation Station: Triops

Triops are and great lifecycle to observe. They grow and develop fast and give the students a lot to observe. Can you spot him?

Monday, 25 May 2015

#YYCLC Day 162: Observation Station - Butterflies

Spring often brings butterflies to the school. The learning commons is a great place to share these little creatures with the whole learning community! The students love coming to check them out everyday and seeing their progress!

Friday, 22 May 2015

#YYCLC Day 161: AkkermanLC in Time Lapse

Here is another take on the celebration of learning we had this week for the grade 2 boat building project!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

#YYCLC Day 159: The LC Can Be A Busy Place!

Today the Learning commons was busy! Here's what was happening during our middle block, between recess and lunch

  • 1 whole grade 2 class was in the computer lab doing a an SLA field test
  • Another grade 2 small group was working at the SMART board doing some math
  • We had three Calgary Reads volunteers working grade 1 students in small groups
  • There were Grade 4 students working on a health project in a small group
  • There were grade 5 students working on another health project
Not everyday is like this but it was amazing to see the LC so busy and being utilized by so many grades at once!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

#YYCLC Day 158: Celebrating Learning

This Grade 2 class celebrated learning by presenting their boats and design videos to other classes in the school. They enjoyed telling the story of their learning!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

#YYCLC Day 157: The Tree Project

Today this Grade 1 class took their learning commons work outside. They have been documenting trees in our playground throughout the year. They noticed there was a big change in the tree over the last month!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

#YYCLC Day 156: Uploading Time!

Today I took some time to upload some Explain Everything videos to Google Drive. It amazing to be able to take the time occasionally to do this kind of work. These videos are a documentation of a boat building project that a Grade 2 class completed this week! 

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

#YYCLC Day 155: Weekly Girls Club

This week our Chris Akkerman Girls Club is working on a project about what they want to BE. The meet weekly in the Learning Commons at lunch time.

Monday, 11 May 2015

#YYCLC Day 154: What App Did You Use Today?

Today I made a display that I've been meaning to make for a while. This is to help students and teachers remember about some of our key CREATING Apps that we love!

Friday, 8 May 2015

#YYCLC Day 153: Boat Building

The grade twos at Chris Akkerman School have just about finished their boat building project. More to come on this great design project. 

Thursday, 7 May 2015

#YYCLC Day 152: 3D Printer in Action

Today we were printing student designed keytags. The whole school is interested in this! It might take a while to get through all 600 students.

A video posted by Steve Clark (@stevewclark) on

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

#YYCLC Day 151: Assessment in the LC

Sometimes teachers need to bring students to the LC to do some kind of assessment. This is a kindergarten teacher recording some student voice. 

Monday, 4 May 2015

#YYCLC Day 149: Minute-to-Winnit

The Keeler LC isn't just for students! Keeler staff take a much-needed break to play a minute-to-winnit team-building activity.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

#YYCLC Day 147: Lost in Non-Fiction

Today, we captured this grade 4 student searching the non-fiction stacks for books after using the eLibrary to find out what we had at Keeler.