Prompt for Module 13 – Curation Summary:
You will end where you began:
- Addressing your initial essential question;
- Giving a summary of the evolution of your curation;
- Summarizing your ideal library, anticipating where you want to make a difference in your school.
- Tie up your learning curation and the module content.
What is the role of a school library learning commons in a distributed learning environment?
This curation has taken me through each module of the course with the lens of using the information to start up a SLLC for my DL school. What I found was that the purpose and philosophy of an SLLC in a brick and mortar school and a DL school are the same, as are the potential effects on student achievement and community building. There are some different considerations for the implementation and day-to-day functioning, but nothing prohibitory. This curation has inspired me to develop a plan for the beginnings of an SLLC at my school!
I set out on this journey with three goals. I will now outline my findings for each of the goals, endeavouring to answer as many of my original questions as possible.
Goal #1: Explore the purpose and philosophy of the SLLC
I’ve discovered that the purpose and philosophy of an SLLC are extremely important to the functioning of a school, student learning and achievement, staff well-being, and building community. The role of the SLLC and the TL are the same in both types of school – to develop and support:
- physical and virtual spaces where all students, staff, and community members feel safe and have a sense of ownership;
- a collection of well-selected, multi-modal learning resources;
- multiple literacies, including reading, transliteracy, digital literacy, information literacy, critical literacy, and cultural literacy;
- engaging, creative, participatory learning experiences;
- a life-long love of learning and reading;
- collaboration among and between staff and students;
- resources, technologies, and experiences for diverse learners;
- personal growth, including personal interests and leisure activities;
- a strong sense of belonging and community;
- social justice for local and global issues.
(CLA, Hayes, Canter et. al, Follett)
Goal #2: Adapt to a distributed learning environment
Understanding the role of the SLLC in a school has enabled me to consider how an SLLC may be adapted to function in a distributed learning environment. When I began my curation, I asked a number of sub-questions – it is the answers to these questions that has guided my learning for this goal:
What is the SLLC contribution to student learning and achievement?
Research shows that a trained TL, in a well-staffed SLLC, with funding for a variety of well-selected resources, who collaborates with teachers and students, increases student engagement and achievement, as well as staff well-being. (CLA, Canter et. al.) It is through meeting the following standards that the TL is able to make a difference: (CLA)
A successful SLLC also positively contributes to its community. In the DL context, where parents play a much larger role in their children’s education, this means supporting parents just as much as the staff and students. In fact, DL children spend more time learning with their parents than with their teacher, particularly in elementary.
What does the SLLC look like, physically and virtually?
An SLLC is a welcoming space for all community members and forms the hub of the learning community (CLA, Diggs, Hayes). An effective SLLC will have a strong virtual presence, as well as the following 4 physical spaces, as required for inquiry learning: (Mackenzie)
These student-centered community spaces are particularly important in a DL school because students have less opportunity to connect with each other for day-to-day learning and leisure experiences. A welcoming and well-designed SLLC will encourage students to congregate on a regular basis. In a DL school, it is also important that it provides a place for parents to connect and share ideas, separate from student learning spaces (so they can talk while waiting for their children without worrying about causing a distraction).
A strong virtual presence is also imperative for DL students, since most of their learning happens online. Their lessons are provided online, they use online research sources, are often asked to connect with each other through online forums, and submit work online – all without necessarily having face-to-face interaction with a teacher or TL. Therefore, the SLLC needs to provide the resources, links, and digital/information literacy curriculum required to support this type of online learning, in addition to typical virtual SLLC contents. As with the physical space, it is also important to provide resources to support parents’ ability to education and help their children.
Which programs can be run through the SLLC to support all learners? How does the SLLC work with families in the classroom, in the home, and reaching out to students who live in different cities or countries?
The SLLC leads and promotes activities that support the development of literacy in its community members. Literacy programs, personalized learning experiences, differentiated instruction, and technologies are used to “engage even reluctant and struggling readers” (Hayes).
The TL also works with teachers and students to “empower independent learners” (CLA, p. 18) by providing resources and designing/co-teaching lessons that actively develop multi-modal literacy skills (Schembri), such as the following:
In my experience, DL students need programs that provide extra support for reading and numeracy development. The best way to do this is through opportunities that build relationships between students, families, and teachers, as well as increase engagement at the drop-in centre. Some programs ideas to meet these needs include small group and individual tutorials, literature circles or book talks, inquiry and STEM projects, field trips, family events, newsletters or blog posts, and more.
Holding virtual events, as well as shipping resources to families, will help the SLLC reach out-of-town families. In towns with more than one family, the TL may also help set up and facilitate events local to those families.
Can teachers achieve an SLLC without the support of a teacher-librarian?
In short, even if teachers band together in support of an SLLC, they will not attain the same level of service and knowledge as a TL. Only a TL has the time and training to perform all the necessary roles, as outlined in the graphic below (Follett). As such, every SLLC, even in a small DL school, must advocate for as much time as possible with a trained TL.
However, until a TL is hired, it is important for teachers to work together to provide as many of the essential services as possible. Using the CLA “Leading Learning” standards (CLA) and Future Ready Schools program (Follett) will help. Teachers could also reach out to other TLs, the district TL, and/or other DL schools for help and ideas.
Goal #3: Gather ideas to use in my school
The process of finding answers to the questions from goal number two, along with the curation activities themselves, gave me a considerable number of ideas to implement in my own school over the coming years. The following ideas will form the basis of a vision, including a series of proposals, to begin transitioning our elementary drop-in centre to an SLLC. I believe these changes will positively change my teaching practices, enhance staff collaboration, improve family engagement, and increase student achievement.
Some specific ideas I have gathered include:
- Increasing the number, type, and availability of resources for families. This includes purchasing more books, subscriptions, kits, etc… Our resources should be bar coded and entered into the Destiny OPAC so they can be checked out by families, even shipped if necessary.
- Creating a virtual library presence to provide students and families with the information, technology tools, and links necessary for online learning.
- Developing literacy and numeracy programs, such as small group lessons, online lessons, book talks, literature circles, and math explorations.
- Creating curriculum and providing families with resources to support the development of digital, information, and critical literacies.
- Increasing collaboration between the elementary teachers, middle school teachers, and LART. Possibly setting aside monthly meeting times for teachers to connect and collaborate (especially in the absence of staff meetings).
- Making students feel more welcome in the drop-in center by adding student-centered decor, creating areas to display student work, providing spaces for students to connect with leisure and interest activities, and encouraging collaborative learning.
- Creating opportunities for students to partake in social, participatory learning. These might include STEM activities, inquiry projects, field trips, drop-in work sessions, etc…
- Strengthening the parent network will allow families to share resources, ideas, and talents. This can be done partially through creating a parent area of the drop-in center, including a bulletin board for parents and sitting area, and creating a virtual space for parents to connect.
- Engaging in more advocacy. Engage parents and community members through newsletters, blog posts, and/or social media so they understand the role the centre plays in the children’s education and achievement. Advocate to the principal and school district by including them in activities, inviting them to visit, and attending meetings. Finally, creating a proposal and plan for the transition to an SLLC.
I also learned and used a new technology tool for each of these curations – meaning I now have a longer list of technology tools I am able to use with my students or help other teachers implement. For this final curation, I have decided to try sketch noting. For this sketch note, I drew the notes on paper then scanned it in using an iPad app called Genius Scan. I chose this option because hand-writing notes then scanning a digital copy is a very common activity for my students, so I wanted to experience it myself. However, I also explored two apps that can be used for digital sketch notes, Paper by WeTransfer and Adobe Sketch. Both apps were a lot of fun to use and I look forward to trying them out in the future.
During the course of this curation, my classroom was moved across the hall, to a room just over half the size of the previous room. My sketchnote began as a sketch of a possible layout for the new classroom, and grew to include a brief plan of attack for next year:
This curation was an excellent learning opportunity! I feel I have met my goals and found answers to my curation question. I also had a great time using a variety of new technology tools, or previous tools in a new way, for each curation.
However, while this represents the end of this curation, it is just the beginning for me. I have been inspired to begin advocating to create an SLLC in my own school, and have a lot of work ahead of me. The learning curations from this assignment will form a foundation on which to build my own proposal. They have also provided me with ideas and tools to implement next year, increasing the services available to my students and hopefully their success!
Canadian Library Association. (2014). Leading learning: Standards of practice for school library learning commons in Canada. Ottawa:ON. Retrieved from http://www.accessola2.com/SLIC-Site/slic/llsop.pdf.
Canter, L., Voytecki, K., Zambone, A., & Jones, J. (2011). School librarians: The forgotten partners. Teaching Exceptional Children, 43(3), 14-20.
Diggs, V. (2011). Teacher librarians are education: Thoughts from valerie diggs. Teacher Librarian, 38(5), 56-58. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/docview/875201232.
Follett. Future Ready Librarians. Retrieved from: https://futureready.org/librarians.
Hayes, T. (2014, 54:3). Library to Learning Commons. Retrieved from
Mackenzie, Trevor. Exclusive Content: Sketchnotes. Retrieved from https://www.trevormackenzie.com/exclusive-sketchnotes.
Schembri, Natalie. “Module 4: Learning from Multi-Modal Texts: A Look at New Literacies.” LLED 462. University of British Columbia. Course Notes.
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