8 essential ingredients for your learning commons As schools look for effective ways to bring their libraries into the digital age, many are reinventing them as learning commons. These dynamic spaces are no longer hushed sanctuaries of knowledge. The school library 2.0 is a nerve center of active exploration and discovery. The books are still there but the volume has been turned way up on learning. Thriving libraries In his article Power Up! Johnson says while a library’s core purpose has remained the same – providing access to information – what has changed is how students access it and what they do with it when they get it. A learning commons So what is a learning commons? “It’s a new way of doing school,” writes learning commons advocate Gino Bondi on his Learning the Now blog. A learning commons is like a collaborative kitchen School library expert Joyce Valenza has a great analogy for what a library used to be and what it should become. How you set up your kitchen is really up to you. 8 learning commons essentials: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Questioning; Challenge & Engagement | Gary King Questioning is a fundamental element of pedagogy, one you could read endlessly around, but the reality is using questioning to challenge and engage all learners is demanding and potentially problematic to get right. Recently I’ve been working with a team of teachers, shaping our CPD model in preparation for the new academic year. Engaging in dialogue around teaching and learning with colleagues is always a pleasure and extremely informative, and one aspect continually crops up; deep, challenging and engaging questioning. Firstly, I think it’s crucial to outline what we are trying to achieve when we think about the purpose of questioning, for me it includes the following: Making the assumption that we are all familiar with Blooms Taxonomy; a cognitive approach to to classify forms and levels of learning, research has shown that as teachers we tend to ask questions in the “knowledge” category 80% to 90% of the time. Active engagement Good luck with your questioning! Like this:
(Rethinking) Makerspaces Kids have always made in my library. We encouraged digital and visual and dramatic and rhetorical creativity before, during, and after school. But for a while, I’ve questioned the value of using already heavily used real estate to randomly carve out space for a 3D printer, electronics stations and sewing machines. A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to chat with Amos Blanton, project manager of the Scratch online community, and a member of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT Media Lab. Amos makes the case for makerspaces as powerful, authentic, relevant learning experiences, and for when and why library may be the very right space to create a makerspace. Here’s the video of our chat and a few of key points to consider before adopting a maker culture for libraries Amos’ key points: School pressures make it challenging to make space for interest-driven learning. A Makerspace is not a one-size-fits-all kind of space. Freedom to choose changes the way students invest in a project.
Engaging Students Through Effective Questions Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers. - Josef Albers (1888-1976) My youngest son Robbie, aged 12, often asks thought-provoking questions. Every few days he surprises me with a topic that seems to come out of the blue. Responding appropriately and respectfully can be a real challenge for me. Here are some examples of questions he has posed recently: Who invented the alphabet? and many, many more, often beginning with “What would happen if …?” There are no easy answers to any of the above questions, and they are great conversation-starters. One of the reasons I am so intrigued by Robbie’s questions is that, somewhere along the way to adulthood, I began to forget how to ask wide-open questions. In what ways might questioning techniques improve student learning? Student Engagement Like many teachers, I have seen my students begin to doodle or show signs of boredom as I explained a point or waxed eloquent about the subject under discussion. Conclusion
Remake Your Class: Building a Collaborative Learning Environment (Video Playlist) Steve: My name is Steve Mattice, I'm a math and science teacher here at Roosevelt Middle School. I have been teaching for about seven years now. Narrator: Steve had a problem. His classroom was too small for the 36 students who poured in and out every period. And too cramped to accommodate the student-to-student collaboration he knew encouraged deeper learning. Steve: They're extending this knowledge when they're working together, they're happier and more positive and more likely to participate. Narrator: Then he met the folks at the "Third Teacher Plus," whose job it is to help educators re-imagine their learning spaces. Christian: Teachers around the country will totally identify with this classroom, an incredible number of kids and limited space. I'm Christian Long, and I was a high school English teacher for about 15 years. Melanie: When people think design a lot of times, they think veneer, they think decorating. Steve: I use the ELMO or the overhead a lot. Let's hear about it.
Inquiry-Based Learning - The Power of Asking the Right Questions As a fourth-grade teacher at an inquiry-based learning school, I've come to understand the importance of planning. Planning is critical and also best practice. I still plan at the beginning of each week and each day. With student-directed learning, there's a major difference between planning and flexibility. The Power of the Right Questions You might wonder how lesson planning works if you're always reconstructing on the fly. Everything connects. What qualities/character traits do billionaires possess that make them so successful? But kids are kids, so there's always someone who diverges from what I want to teach them. What financial decisions enabled that billionaire to purchase such luxuries? This returned my students to thinking about budgeting, spending and saving wisely, and the decisions or traits of proven financial managers. Connecting Ideas and Seizing Opportunities Ultimately, a teacher's job is to light the way for her students, to guide them to their own path of discovery.
NOT YOUR GRANDFATHER’S LIBRARY When Sheri McNair, library media specialist at James I. O’Neill High School in Highland Falls, NY, came to her district four years ago, she stepped into a very traditional space that was mostly taken up by free-standing stacks of books, traditional wooden tables, and eight computers that “needed to go,” she laughs. McNair quickly realized that she was spending most of her time scraping the heavy wooden desks across the floor, rearranging the space to encourage classes to come in. So the first thing she did was move the freestanding stacks. “I put the books around the perimeter, which opened up a ton of space. Instant improvement!” Over the next three years, McNair completely renovated the space, adding carpet tiles, rolling chairs and tables with whiteboard tops, 50 computers, and 60 Samsung Chromebooks. “I inherited an outdated space with lots of rules—no talking, no food, no backpacks, no devices,” says McNair. Need any proof that a library transformation is worth the time and money?
How Do You Create A Culture of Inquiry? As students enter classrooms for the beginning of a new school year, the rally cry from business leaders, university professors, and policy makers is for a K-12 experience that develops more critical thinkers. “Skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, applying academic knowledge and situational judgment are more important than ever to an individual’s labor market success” (Association of Career and Technical Education, 2008, p. 7). How can K-12 teachers develop a culture of inquiry? According to the United States Department of Education (2010), “The goal for America’s educational system is clear: Every student should graduate from high school ready for college and a career” (United States Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, ESEA Blueprint for Reform, p. 7). When lesson plans focus on activities or coverage of a pacing guide, opportunities for inquiry learning are often overlooked. Accountable Talk Essential Questions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration eBook: Scott Doorley, Scott Witthoft, Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford Uni, David Kelley: Kindle Store Inquiry-based Learning: Explanation What is inquiry-based learning? An old adage states: "Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand." The last part of this statement is the essence of inquiry-based learning, says our workshop author Joe Exline 1. "Inquiry" is defined as "a seeking for truth, information, or knowledge -- seeking information by questioning." A Context for Inquiry Unfortunately, our traditional educational system has worked in a way that discourages the natural process of inquiry. Some of the discouragement of our natural inquiry process may come from a lack of understanding about the deeper nature of inquiry-based learning. Importance of Inquiry Memorizing facts and information is not the most important skill in today's world. Educators must understand that schools need to go beyond data and information accumulation and move toward the generation of useful and applicable knowledge . . . a process supported by inquiry learning. The Application of Inquiry Outcomes of Inquiry