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 Not for storage of textbooks, outdated resources or technology that nobody knows what to do with.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...