Learning Commons – Our Next Steps…

Keeler School has taken the early steps and has created and implemented a Learning Commons space and philosophy. Being high-needs and high-poverty, one of the early issues for our staff was being able to see a school with similar demographics to ours engaged in this type of work to create worthwhile learning opportunities for our students. Now that our staff is one year into this, we would like to be able to use Keeler School to share our learning, and help it to be successful at other schools.

We see the next right steps for Keeler School in evolving and developing our Learning Commons philosophy and implementation to improve student learning as:

  • Educational Philosophy – Continuing to develop, support and implement an experimental and inquiry-based philosophy based on the Teacher Effectiveness Rubric and Framework (http://www.cea-ace.ca/publication/what-did-you-do-school-today-teaching-effectiveness-framework-and-rubric) from the Canadian Education Association.
  • Collaboration – Establishing both educator and student collaborative opportunities through the use of educational technology for “CREATING” (rather than “consuming”) and utilization of the space as a collaborative place for engaging in deep, real world work. We would like to increase student access to resources for the creation of artifacts to engage them in their learning, especially focusing on the artifacts as a learning process rather than final product.
  • Focus on Learning – We would like to make the Learning Commons the “Hub” of learning at Keeler School. We would like to examine ways to make sure that if a parent steps into the Learning Commons, they are immediately struck by the learning that takes place at Keeler School as a whole. It needs to be a dynamic work that changes over time to reflect the actual work, rather than artifacts that sit in there for years. How we do this, either through digital tools, student artifacts, photographs, artists-in-residence, or other possibilities, is a question we would like to pursue this year.
  • Independent Access to Resources – Increasing student ability to independently access resources (both physical and digital), and even allowing our kindergarten and grade one students to learn how to sign out their own books. We have an amazing library assistant who is wholeheartedly supportive of this process and sees her role as supporting children in literacy and loving reading, rather than being a “gatekeeper” for the resources.
  • The Space – Creating spaces that are student-centered and adaptable to be able to meet the needs of individual students, groups, classrooms, teachers, community groups, parent, as well as our staff as a whole. We would like to look at finding the right resources, whether it is furniture, curricular learning materials, math and science manipulatives, art media, or other materials, to make this area comfortable and responsive to the needs of our school community and the many agencies and programs that use Keeler School on a regular basis, thereby creating a true “Community School.”
  • A Bigger Audience – Developing the ability to be able to showcase student learning to a much greater audience rather than “just their teacher.” This will be done utilizing digital technologies, Keeler websites such as our Keeler School home page (http://schools.cbe.ab.ca/b318/) and school Facebook page to update parents (https://www.facebook.com/keelerschool), physical spaces in the Learning Commons itself, as well as the Keeler School Weebly site (http://keelercommons.weebly.com). Our experience has shown that opening up the audience for students enables them to engage in work at a completely different level than if the work is only done within the classroom and for the classroom.
  • Sharing Our Learning Out – Sharing our learning, lessons learned, mistakes, and successes with other schools undertaking this work and within the system at large, as well as with the world beyond Keeler School. Digital technologies such as Weebly, our school website, our classroom websites (http://schools.cbe.ab.ca/b318/showcase.htm), this Blog (https://unravelingnewfrontiers.wordpress.com), and our student work and projects. Hopefully others and ourselves can use these to showcase the change that has started to take place…

It will be a fun journey! Here is to Year 2!

As always, work hard, learn tons!

7 Responses to Learning Commons – Our Next Steps…

  1. Grade 4's says:

    The Grade 4 teachers looked at the class through a writing lens. We opened the student’s free writing books to assess their “true” writing levels. We had many surprises about some of our students and their ability.

    We are planning our non-fiction writing unit using a structure and style method. It will incorporate our Social Studies and Science units of study. The purpose is to get them properly using the rich and complex vocabulary of both these subject areas.

  2. Polok & Lunnin says:

    After doing some planning with Bryden and MacKenzie for our upcoming movie trailers to promote Alberta’s Regions, the Grade 5 Team spent time discussing how to organize students to best compliment their strengths and their learning needs. We also spent time developing Science lessons and experiments to help students better understand the elements of weather before they build their weather instruments. Finally, we chatted with Bartel and Rakowski about the best way to support some our more complex students, and meet their varied learning needs.

  3. Claire, Vanessa, and Heather says:

    The Kindergarten team has been working hard the last month on setting classroom and school routines for our students. Emphasizing the importance of everyday routines has encouraged students to be independent and self-aware. This week the Kindergarten students went on their first Library visit of the year, and the students’ excitement about choosing their own book was contagious. Where could our new information from our library visit lead us? As we are looking ahead, we are excited to discover the possibilities of story-telling and fairy tales with our students. The Kindergarten team brainstormed ideas for various activities to include in class that encourage cross-curricular experiences. For instance, in math we are going to discuss the importance of different sizes in fairy tales, (tiny = thumbelina, large = ogre, etc.), which also correlates to learning about the use of sizes in our everyday language, and for students to include details in their storytelling.
    We also discussed the upcoming celebration of Halloween and how a variety of connections can be made to learning about story-telling. We are including a dramatic play centre where students can explore story-telling by independently choosing from a variety of dress-up clothes to encourage imaginative play.
    We are looking forward to incorporating the ideas of story-telling and fairy tales into our daily activities, and learning from our students what new ideas we can connect to our curricular activities.

  4. Mike says:

    I (Mike) worked with the 6s and Bryden today to talk about The Rights of the Child and to develop an inquiry around building empathy, understanding citizenship, examining music for morality and values, developing Keeler’s Rights of the Child, and changing the world.

    Our planning document is here (the conversation was amazing- check it out!): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1as5BNuHaMBaeDpy6eDnKy0qjQvhnj7asISZ24oMHbaw/edit?usp=sharing

  5. Jen, Lien and Lisa T says:

    The grade 1’s and room 18, looked at engaging lessons around discovering who they are and building resiliency. Lessons were based around our book Incredible You (Dr. Wayne Dyer), which is our main focus for the year.

  6. Grade Two says:

    This week the grade two team examined different math resources and the math makes sense textbook, CD, and teacher guide to assist in creating lesson ideas and plans that connect to other areas of study. We shared what was working and what was challenging about accommodating a variety of learning needs and levels. We discussed the advantages and disadvantages to leveled math groups and examined different assessment results to determine if our groups are functioning and effective for student learning and engagement. We examined potential math projects that could be cross-curricular and connect to our work around the Olympics and the 2014 Russia Sochi Winter games. We also discussed potential strategies for creating and fostering independence at literacy centers. We examined the “daily Five” and discussed potentially utilizing this book as a guide to establishing independence in our students during their work in Literacy.

  7. Grade 3 says:

    The grade 3’s looked at how to combine poetry with our review of descriptive writing. We have started to review writing elaborative details for the beginning of stories, and we are going to add simile poetry skills in order to strengthen their writing skills.
    Ideally the students will be able to use similes in the beginning of their stories to create detailed introductions to the settings, and main characters of their stories.

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