Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Day 101 - Introducing The Fox Hill Learning Commons - Mr. Murphy and Ms. Scheffer - Fox Hill IT Team

This post first appeared on the BPS EdTech Blog

Since the start of the school year, Mr. Murphy and I have taken collaboration to a whole new level through the creation of a Learning Commons here at Fox Hill. In the simplest terms, a learning commons is a “full-service learning, research and project space,” and this is exactly what we have developed. Previously, the technology integration specialist was in a different space than the librarian. This year however, Mr. Murphy and I are working side by side in the same space. There is no longer a separate computer lab for students and we’re starting to see what a positive impact the Learning Commons is having on our school culture and specifically on teaching and learning. Teachers now have a great deal of freedom and flexibility as to when and how they use the Learning Commons. They can schedule time to use the space through a shared Learning Commons Google Calendar and multiple classes can use the space simultaneously. Students and teachers are still using the Learning Commons for traditional “browse and borrow” library time and formal technology lessons, but they’re also using it for a variety of learning activities including:
  • Individual and group research with digital and analog resources
  • Writing assignments
  • Brainstorming and idea generation
  • Computer programming and coding activities
  • Movie creation with the green screen
  • Long term, multi-media projects for science and ELA
We explained our vision for the Learning Commons at a staff meeting just before the holiday break and shared some of the characteristics of a modern Learning Commons:
1. Student-centered, inquiry-based environment
2. Active & engaged learning (research, writing, creating)
3. Inspire creative and collaborative work
4. Students meet, talk, brainstorm, design, play, build
5. Offer a variety of tools & resources; digital & analog
6. Flexible environment, Moveable furniture
7. Staffed with specialist (library/media/digital learning)
8. Foster student-to-student, student-to-staff relationships
9. Preparation for secondary & post-secondary levels
10.Cross-curriculum, project-based learning
Since returning from the holiday break, many of our teachers have been using the Learning Commons in new ways and in the video below, third grade teacher Mrs. Lisano, fourth grade teachers Mr. Daley, Mrs. Nolte, and Mr. Lisano, and first grade teacher Mrs. Carroll share their perspective on the new space and how it is impacting their students.

The transition to a Learning Commons model has taken time, but we are excited to see our teachers embracing our vision and what an exciting learning environment we have here at Fox Hill. We hope to continue to develop the space, both aesthetically and with the curriculum, but we are pleased with what we’ve accomplished so far this school year and it’s definitely thanks to the open-minded teaching staff of Fox Hill. Check out the iMovie trailer below and take a look inside the Fox Hill Learning Commons!

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