Thank you to Kidsbooks , Phyllis Simon- again! For decades of service and reading inspiration to the teachers, students and book lovers in the Okanagan. Your travelling and talks are so rewarding and contribute to quality of materials our COTLA teacher-librarians replenish every year for our students. Thx for all your visits :-)
Category Archives: School Library
- October 27 has been proclaimed School Library Day in BC! We are once again challenging British Columbians to Drop Everything and Read. Last year, over 72,000 people participated. Will you join us this year for the 8th annual challenge? 2014 Drop Everything and Read posters are now available at http://bctf.ca/bctla/info/advocacy.html#dear.
- “From School Library to Library Learning Commons: A Pro-Active Model for Educational Change” is now available in draft on the BCTLA website for review. The document was developed in part to respond to requests for guidance and support around a shift to a learning commons model. Send feedback on the document to editor Moira Ekdahl, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The “Ethics of Information Use” poster, also known as the “HONESTY” poster, has been recreated as a 8.5 x 11 pdf. The poster is now available for download in English at http://bctf.ca/bctla/pub/index.html#honesty.
“….Cross-Country Checkup asks: What is the future of the library?
Friday, September 26, 2014
On Sept. 28, Cross-Country Checkup is hosting an episode dedicated to the library. What’s the future of the local library in the age of Google? Peter Mansbridge will guest host this special episode. Tune in at 4 p.m. ET.
If you are in Waterloo, Ont., you can join the live studio audience! Details are on the Cross-Country Checkup website.
Whatever form the library of the future takes, we know Canadians will continue to love their libraries. Check out the stories below for proof…. “
Al Smith teacher-librarian
As many progressive teacher-librarians are introducing spaces and activity opportunities for creation, most of us should also evaluate the efficiency and worthiness from a learning perspective. It’s not just about any experiential rewards but also about the outcomes that attempt to meet our curricula. I believe there is implicit value in exploring and challenging but there are boundaries as to whether the activities are justified, worthy and cost effective. ‘Play’ -at any age has terrific value but like any decisions professionals make, we must weigh any virtue with our goals.
“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. I had my doubts about the makerspace movement in school libraries.
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. On his profile Amos notes: I design and sustain creative learning environments for people with agency.” ( Valenza )
VALENZA, Joyce. ‘Neverending Search’. Sept. 09-24-2014. (Online)
Interesting… A library not for books and information inquiry but socializing, technology and constructivism….? What?
‘Maker spaces’? Interesting notion but maybe just a fad? Like Mark Crompton recently blogged, ” “then we need to look at what kind of learning the library is the hub of” . My response? “I believe the kind of learning is driven by the school culture and the kind of hub is the proportional relationship of the library team and their assets and vision. The hub does not work in a vacuum nor does a strong learning school culture thrive without spirited and valued support services including the library program.”
Can KSS implement a ‘maker space’ model in the immediate future? No. Maybe…. Steve Jobs said during a Stanford commencement address, “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” He was provoking students to dream and innovate not with clinical business models but passion. Libraries as maker spaces? What role does a library play in any school- never mind the maker movement? So, what would Steve say?
The wild notion of the maker movement may not impact us immediately. The learning commons model at KSS evolved organically not prescriptively. High school, like a teenager, has a hierarchy of needs. The role of the library is never an urgent or pressing one. Our library has successful served the needs of our school while adapting educational practice with solid tested pedagogy and some old fashioned trial and error luck. The teacher-librarians over the years have been competent advocates and leaders and faculty were very collaborative. We are the lucky ones. We have a great school. Now the very basis of sound pedagogy is in flux because with social change, now even role of schools is unclear. What’s a library to do? Some schools have no library or no librarian or neither. “They have the Internet, right?” “Kids these days, are computer savvy.” Ya, so? Public school, home school, if children no it all, why do we bother? Of course we know better. School is more than just 3Rs and learning is more than just a bunch of facts on a book or a – screen.
A quality school strives to serve everyone in progressive ways while staying committed to the mandate of curricular standards, exam expectations and graduation concerns. These factors and many more, can squeeze the creative and experimental capacity of educators and our library program is no different. We must firstly support our team while we may nurture innovation when and where we can. This takes time. That said, all our innovations evolve from some unique once crazy lonely idea. Change comes from need and inspiration. Learning and teaching is a complex process of experiences not just technology. Even the late Mr. Tech, Steve Jobs of Apple, said,
“Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”(Brainyquote)
I wish we would get over our obsession with device driven solutions for everything. It is faulty. Educational best practice is a series actions and relationships developed and enacted with intent. It’s about ideas, skills and the person. BYOD bring your own device should be- Bring Your Own Dialogue, Discourse or Dreams. Libraries are more than books. Libraries are more than spaces. Libraries are environments or biomes of ideas. So perhaps if some 3D printers, modelling clay or green screens were added to the book stacks and computers it wouldn’t really be so weird. I think the hangup is more about control than about having the gear.
With the reality of now having ubiquitous digital content, coming to the library to GET information is not the only role of the space. Information is everywhere. Kids grab raw data from their phone but they need help framing thoughtful questions and probing answers or more questions. Google queries don’t teach you how to read screens nor how to critically think. Finding quality appropriate information that challenges student thinking takes good teaching from the entire team not just access to the Internet. Sticking a laptop or a BYOD in front of a kid and assuming because of his age, the Internet will suffice as a lesson planning makes me ANGRY. It is negligence to not guide students through the reading of digital content and design mindful tasks that empower learning and not just plagiarized regurgitation. We owe them that much. My ideal ‘maker space’ would be a ‘make ‘em think’- first.
That is where a learning commons model comes in. Students get coaching all day even when outside of their classroom bell schedule. If faculty and teacher-librarian collaborate and share goals, methods and outcomes, a sophisticated learning hub can exist all day. Older teens CAN function at very high levels of inquiry and creative learning CAN occur in pockets or niches of activity. Quality designed lessons encourage students to reach beyond the teacher and the classroom and challenge the basic information. Investigate deeper for evidence. Students should be guided to create personal thesis statements and document reflections. Perhaps this is where the evolution of classroom, library, digital library, learning commons and maker space is revealed? Outcomes of evidence of learning are expressed beyond the quiz or written answer but in annotated and even constructed 3D models of data and the inquiry process. (Ekdahl)
At the the senior level, the redefining of ‘library’ space is coming whether we design it or fight it. I’m seeing it already- kids want service/access for digital content AND social flexible space. The KSS LIBRARY has organically been a learning commons before experts started calling modern library programs thus. Why? Because we provided multitasking, multipurpose, client focus service with learning, reading and scholarship as the core. If I was to teach another 5 years, I think I could see us implementing ‘maker stations’ rather like we do now with printers, scanners, AppleTV or paper cutters or iPads… IF we have the room? We would need to remove more stacks of useful books and renovate …but it won’t be me… ;-)
A warp in the commons universe I’ve noticed is the incongruence of opinion as to what the library should be. What is it? To a teen who only knows the library as a place to hang out and stay warm, being expected to demonstrate academic rigour or creative initiative now is a shock. To a student who only knows a middle school library as place to quietly read books, a senior high school learning commons is a busy, demanding and yes, sometimes noisy place. Today, I get asked a dozen times an hour, “May I borrow a laptop” or “why can’t I sit here?” Some students now see, a pre-reserved English 11 class, trumping their right to a chair or computer as an injustice! “What do you mean, I have to move or leave? WT? It’s my spare! It’s the library! ” The vast majority of our students though are fabulou, cooperative gems of youth but diverse expectations exist and I’m occasionally seen as the chair or laptop nazi.
When we don’t get feeder students until Grade 10, adopting cultural traditions or sharing community expectations of 2000 people is a huge challenge. If I simply MANDATE unilateral rules across the board, that doesn’t evolve into a healthy community of learning hub. I straddle priorities to serve teacher initiatives and open access for student centered projects like reading, homework or yes, creative endeavours. etc. Some exciting initiatives like ‘maker spaces’ tax space, people, inventory even further. With more kids working on personalized projects or streams, in an an open campus school, the learning commons model is a natural fit-but… It takes a welcoming well-equipped facility, supervision, support expertise and maintenance to keep the facility and clients all happy and productive. An effective learning hub for large schools is a challenge. Not unlike a classroom, on a grand scale, orchestrating all the elements and moving parts in a diverse collection of people and needs is as much art as science and a whole lot of faith.
It’s exciting. It’s busy. Both Sharon (and her temp Jeff) and I have been run off our feet but we really wouldn’t want it another way. Positive change needs energy. Nothing moves without inertia. The KSS Library currently is a healthy learning hub because the KSS admin, community and student culture supports it. Ultimately, success of any program is not about spaces but about people and relationships. Somehow it all just works. Like Steve a Jobs said, ” Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
It’s a nice problem to have- a competition for space and services. It is nice to be challenged by the competing needs of your services. It means the library is valued yet I also feel we(KSS) needs to re-evaluate the role of the school library and the teacher-librarian and design our own road map forward. It takes constant passionate coaching, encouragement and participation by teachers and administrators that THEIR LIBRARY is always focused on learning- a value added hub, as it were. Our Principal, Mrs. Kintzinger, has a goal for our school to be a ‘collaborative learning community’ where ‘ ‘Where All are Valued’. These are organic and people centered visions I would say. I’d say it sounds very much like a healthy library. What would Steve say? Is it hungry or crazy enough?
Again, Jobs was quoted, “Older people sit down and ask, ‘What is it?’ but the boy asks, ‘What can I do with it?’….So what can we do with it?
Crompton, Marc. “Bloom, Makerspaces and the Learning Commons.” Adventures in
Libraryland. N.p., 27 Oct. 2013. Web. 28 Oct. 2013.
Ekdahl, M., M. Farquharson, J. Robinson, L. Turner. 2010. The Points of Inquiry:
A Framework for In- formation Literacy and the 21st Century Learner.
Vancouver, BC: British Columbia Teacher- Librarians’ Association.
Jobs, Steve. Brainyquote.com Oct 28, 2013.
Jobs, Steve RIP. MacRumours. MacRumours, 11 Oct. 2011. Web. 28 Oct. 2013.
Kroski, Ellyssa. “A Librarian’s Guide to Makerspaces: 16 Resources.”
iLibrarian Blog. OEDB, 12 Mar. 2013. Web. 28 Oct. 2013.
Rebora, Anthony. “Latest Curriculum Craze: Making Stuff.” Teaching Now.
EDweek.org, 4 Jan. 2013. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. .
Thanks to BuffyJHamilton again…:-)
I’m more convinced than ever about the power of libraries; school libraries in my case, IF, they are allowed to be nurtured like a garden. Like a vegetable garden, the produce needs a dedicated farmer, great soil, and a staff of field workers. It needs nutrients, tending, and lucky weather conditions. A school library needs all these elements too. In fact, I believe a great classroom has the same dynamic but a cross-curricular, openly public place like a library has some unique horticultural challenges.
It’s been a vacation break and another rotation of students has enrolled in our school since I’ve blogged about a school ‘ learning commons’ here or on the BCTLA NING. I’ve not just thought about the topics( I never stop thinking about our blessed library (I’m getting therapy ;-) honest ) but I’ve also experienced some changes in this short time. Our students and staff evolve. The body politic changes. The leadership and curricula changes. New initiatives and new people pop into our realm. Some bad, sad and some exciting and fresh. This current class of kids at Kelowna Secondary School is blowing my mind. Just this Friday at 4:30! A young lady was challenging me to find a new book for the weekend- her last read was Ann Rand, the Fountainhead! Quite the brief chat we had. Despite some very sad news ( my beloved TL partner Sharon is off fighting cancer ) the kids are pushing me into service points I’ve only dreamed of for years. Just when you think you hit a wall, something blooms.
Students are demanding to know more about authors like Sherman Alexi, Atwood, Marquez! I think it is a combination of things, including some great new teaching but there is an appetite for intellectual content and not just fluff. Smart kids are tired of pop BS. They are inquisitive more than ever and they are seeing their library as a destination and opportunity. That is unbelievable for this old goat who was getting a tad cynical. They are also overwhelming asking for books and not ebooks. They are however increasing keen to learn how to reach our resources via their devices. Seniors ( and their parents even) are now responding to our message about databases and citation tools and empowering inquiry. I’m in shock really. The transition has not been gradual but feels abrupt. I’m sure our constant grinding away has some role but there now is ripe ground for a learning commons model that preaches rigour with creativity. Don’t get bogged down about furniture or coffee or labels. Assess what your influential message is. How do your staff and students see you?
I’ve tried to make a few changes that could strengthen our model of delivery? Not sure, but here is a few. I acquired some new furniture. Why? to add serice. A cafe tablke and stolls in the hall outside the library. Kids loving it so far. I’ve renamed and labelled our working areas by Canadian authors. I was sick of teaching people where north was- so enter Margaret Atwood, Farley Mowat, Joseph Boyden, Richard Wagamese, Marshall McLuhan, W.O. Mitchell. Maybe next year, I”l change names? Don’t know? So far so good. It’s created some eyes brows but conversations, if nothing else. :-) I’ve added stools around a round table with desktop computers and removed my OPAC computers to increase more student workstation space. I’ve added more desks and chairs( as study carrels ) on the end of my stacks. I’ve added two round tables behind two new teacher desk in each commons area to squish four more free seats for working students even if a class is booked in. We have eliminated (weeded and reintegrated ) our REF section to make more shelf space for displays. Many are now digital anyway. I’ve added 2 new book displays rather than a list. My own picks- fiction and non-fiction because students now ask me about the titles and it generates discussions and a visual target. I’ve added a couple small white boards for kids to write on- book recommendations… I’ve started to email and TXT new book covers to my blog and teachers directly as they arrive with a brief abstract or note.
On that note I don’t care if we have a learning commons or a library or a resource centre or just ROOM 255: I’m relevant for now anyway. Hang tough. Work hard. Follow your passions and your skills. Have a great year fellow teacher-librarians- you all deserve more credit than you get. Your role is in BC education is huge. You plant the seed of universal access to lifelong learning through free and open access to content. Libraries are more than just a room in a school. They have been a cornerstone of a democratic ideal and tradition since Alexandria. Hang in there. I say this because I believe you need to build a program and a place that is specific to your culture and gifts not just follow the popular norms of the education winds. Assess your needs. Build a delivery model. Develop friends. Do your best. :-)
The bottom line note here is that all the furniture, and nice shelving and display space if fabulous. I exploit it because I believe one’s visual environment is critical to learning but … it is the ever changing dynamic of adults and students that make things hum. We need constantly be re-assessing the human landscape not just the chairs because a learning commons is only as rich as its people.
- Al Smith
Subject: Congratulations Dayna Hart
The 2013 winners of 2013 Gale/Library Media Connection TEAMS Award are Draper Elementary School in Eden, North Carolina; Constable Neil Bruce Middle School in West Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada; and Branford High School in Branford, Connecticut.
The TEAMS Award was created to recognize the critical collaboration between teachers and media specialists in promoting learning and increasing student achievement
Congratulations to Dayna Hart and Jenn Craig! They were named the winners of 2013 Gale/Library Media Connection TEAMS Award for the middle school category. They submitted a collaborative project called “Create a Civilization (Our Foray into PBL)”….and won the award.
They are the recipients of numerous prizes including a trip to the American Association of School Librarians conference in Hartford, Connecticut in November.
Please check out this link to read more about this prestigious award:
Our mission is to contribute resources and professional services to the broad learning community at Kelowna Secondary School. Our committment to supporting achievement through instruction and collaboration is as proud as the traditions that deep throughout our school culture. Whether through enriching the reading culture or implementing various connected learning strategies, the staff at the KSS Library wants to showcase some the aspects of our program but also the larger collaborative learning community. The Learning Commons ( see a few pics ) provides students an environment for researching, reflecting, creating. The Library program integrates instruction and resources services in a collaborative teaching model. Our services reach out to the school community through direct face to face collaboration all day, five days a week. It extends with assets and service points on the public web, school portal, an extensive virtual library, blogs, and social media.
— KSSreads (@kssreads) September 5, 2013
We have many academically inspired moments or literary events that occupy our school day at the KSS Library. Our Learning Commons is often a hub of intensity for faculty, classes and always packed with teens intently completely projects, seeking materials or cramming for some exam. Our Commons is designed to tackle these scholarly pursuits but it also keenly functions as a safe social space. Occasionally, we just get teens seeking solitude or quiet reading. Our staff tries to protect this role, despite the bustling pace as a technology and creation hub. Example being our sunny reading lounge. Yes. And comfy chairs. :-)