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!