Engaging students in the learning commons in the 21 century


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Pippa Davies teacher librarian of Heritage Christian Online students shares how engaging students in the learning commons meets 21 century educational standards and literacy goals.

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  • My story. I have been the teacher librarian and chair the learning commons at HCS for the last 9 years, as well as an individualised teacher…..
  • Our weblinking library serves as an open learning commons attracting users from all over the world. This library is static and we need to work on making curated sites to make it conversational and collaborative. Serves as an archived open commons.
  • Our physical commons is hard wired with iPads, e readers, digital reader and Apple TV. Collaborative tables complement 21 century conversation.
  • Wordpress blog/website which we hope to make into a Wikipedia style site with all teachers contributing their thoughts and efforts. All staff are encouraged to add pages and blog postings.
  • Blogging is my teaching platform and I use to aggregate an audience with social media sites like Scoopit, Linkedin, Facebook and our Wordpress site.
  • Dissemination of information is curated using Scoopit as newsletter and other research topics under apps, writing, 21 century tools are explored and shared. .
  • Our Ning was launched last year and currently we have 500 active users. The Ning is our hangout for students 13 and over.
  • We have an Overdrive E library along with our Destiny Quest catalogue. We ship books and kits (teacher made to cover the learning outcomes) all over the province to our students based on their needs. Presently we are working on making virtual kits and literature guides.
  • I do believe this is an oxymoron. Never before have our children been so distracted with 21 century tools, from mobile phones to laptops, social networking to texting. To try and get our students attention and for them to stay engaged in a virtual capacity is like asking for a miracle. Yet a miracle is what our students are asking from us;) What is that miracle? 
  • What does it mean to be engaged as students. Definition:. Something that serves to engage; a pledge.4. A promise or agreement to be at a particular place at a particular time. What are we promising our students? 
  • So What do we promise our kids? Do our kids matter? As teachers we assume our kids know that they matter. Schooling is competitive so knowing that you matter is basic, you can make a contribution in someone’s life so they really feel they matter. Our contribution needs to matter, we need to show our students they are valued. Kids need to hear that they can make a difference, that can be global changers. Smiling at our kids through chat rooms, noticing our kids for who they are and how they are trying, love them even when they are not being the best, believe in them, tell them they can do great things, trusting them, hearing them and reinforcing them, inspiring them, helping them, empowering them, honouring them. 
  • Effective teachers communicate specifically about how students have demonstratedachievement of the learning outcomes, using a rubric. They will assess effectively and immediately, communicate clearly and allow for students to develop confidence by sharing their work as a group. They will create relationship by giving voice to the student’s learning needs and knowledge.
  • Good old reading. I believe it all comes down to literacy. If I can find ways to get literacy happening in my learning commons I am thrilled.. Working as a physical teacher librarian first and then moving on to the virtual field has given me the training ground to understand the influence of 21 century learning. But along with reading come all the 21 century characteristics that we are inviting. So along with reading literacy comes Information fluency, digital and media fluency is also needed.
  • How do we get our students engaged in research, staying focused, but also asking the right questions to encourage their leadership and gifts. So many students do their research still based on what the teacher wants and owns as opposed to what the student owns and is excited about. Projects need to be irrestistably engaging. We want to combine content of academics but also we want to teach our students how to learn. Content needs to be current and newsworthy.
  • These are some of the terms we know fit the 21 century student. Along with that we need to add digital citizenship.
  • So where does the tl come into the picture in terms of engaging students to become digital citizens who are ethical, responsible, and collaborative producers of information. We know that we cannot control the information explosion. Education is not about technology although the hype for it seems to be there, but rather the way we handle information which is the raw data for learning. We need to understand how to mine for information and disseminate it with the tools we are given.
  • Aren’t our kids just going to the internet for all their answers. We needed to create a learning space that would mimic our physical learning commons as it developed alongside our virtual commons. After reading Building a Learning Commons by Carol Koechlin and David Loertsher we found the means, or philosophy to tie into 21 century learning outcomes. So why a learning commons? I like this quote by Gino Bondi- It is where the collaborative dynamics of the school library and technology-rich labs meet. We want our students to go beyond being just good learners, we want them to be able to synthesize information and stretch it in new and unexpected directions? WE also want our students to find their niche or passion, create their own organized PLN and discern what is good content on the net and what is not. We had to move towards being a knowledge brokesr and create a space t that promotes inquiry, collaboration and active engagement. But mostly we wanted a place where our students believed and trusted in themselves to make a difference in the world. I wanted to help them become disciples in their own environment. Everyone participates in our learning commons as opposed to the tl as top dog. Everyone should be producing, researching and evaluating resources as they go.
  • No more name of library. Commons implied that we have space for everyone to add their learning. Made of physical and virtual space, which is flexible and constantly changing as information changes.
  • We are a team democratic and flattening out into a network, learning and sharing together. No bureacracy anymore. We are always open and ready to help 24/7. Differentiated learning can take place at any time. Spaces should help and empower students to build and find their niche, to bring their own device or to use one of our iPads or ereaders. Students build on our ning which is our macro environment for students to build their own networks. It is not just created by the librarian but by everyone. Many learning commons are using Google sites to launch their wikipedia approach to a learning commons but we used a Wordpress site to get our VLC up and running with the idea of having different platforms operating from it
  • We alsowanted a space where students could engage with each other and with digital media in a connected way. Our goal over three years was to see the traditional state of library transformed into a learning commons, a place where students wanted to hang. We needed formal and informal places for our students to hang out, geek out and mess around. We needed the technology to reach students who liked to engage using technology. We had to create a technology rich lc with iPads, laptops, and e readers to make the lc more inviting to all students. We had to put ipad apps to make sure our younger students knew what to use in the lc when in there. Then we needed staff who could teach students how to use and allow them to teach us
  • If you have not read this book you should it has some great ideas! Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwM4ieFOotA If so many of our students are engaging with media to this extent we could be bringing them into the learning commons using many of these tools. Blogging, tweeting, texting and sharing videos that go viral are all essential tools to help our students make sense of their world and digital literacy.
  • Kaiser Family Foundation found that with technology allowing nearly 24-hour media access as children and teens go about their daily lives, the amount of time young people spend with entertainment media has risen dramatically, especially among minority youth.  Today, 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week).  And because they spend so much of that time 'media multitasking' (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) worth of media content into those 7½ hours. Are students passive or active participants with digital media?How do we balance creative content and also protect our students from going overboard with media overload. Explosion of mobile devices, video games etc means our students are spending more and more time in front of screens. These devices if used with boundaries are opportunities for engagement and collaboration.We as teachers need to be proactive in making our students producers more than consumers of media in our society.   
  • Our ning was born. We know that the value of social networking is commonplace in our students language but we felt that digitial citizenship was not being taught on fb especially in the context of bullying. But this is the way kids are navigating and making sense of their world these days. Discussion around a current video is way more likely to spark conversation than reading from a textbook. We wanted a place where our kids could share their passions hobbies and learn to be builders and creative thinkers. We had no idea the ning would be so successful, where informal learning would be the nature of the day, where students would establish relationship with each other, teachers and myself. Given the stats from the Macarthur foundation on what kids are looking for in hanging out and messing around the ning was a perfect place to do this.
  • A giant Conversation is the message behind this. Sharing on our blogs. Forums, chat transfers ownership to teachers and students. We can lead our students into 21 century learning just be checking on our ning. Five rooms include an information centre or reference room, the literacy centre, knowledge building centre, school culture (ning). Technologically ubiquitous. Here teens could chat in the chat room, start a forum, discussion, share on a blogging platform, create a media library with all their favourite music, videos, poetry, books they have read, share their technical expertise in the teen geek squad doing webinars, and answering teachers questions around techie ideas, and lead their peers in their new and exciting innnovations. Part of our ning’s role was to become the experiential building centre where they could display their photographic skills, compete in writing and poetry competitions, and share their ideas in workshops, and forums. But mostly they could just hang around and geek out. As Mark Daley one of our directors shared with me recently I just come to the ning to listen to the heart. For me these are magical words. It means something is working.
  • Students are encouraged to build their own personal learning network, create their own forums, and learn what interests them. Here collaboration can be as simple as asking a question, or sharing a unique website and asking for input. Or starting your own MOOC.
  • Along with providing an informal workspace, I could now start working with our teen geeks and establish relationships with all of our high school students. I did not need a physical space. I could just stop by in the chat room, or start bullying forum, create a book club group and kids would join free from parental influence. At last I had a place to learn more about what my students believed, valued and wanted from their learning commons. Boy was I blessed! Now students were skyping me when they needed information about a bibliography, how to create a powerpoint, how to blog, how to use Ebschost, how to research, how to sign out an e book. Along with that their parents were getting in on the act and wanting to join the ning. Presently we have 500 students and hope to integrate more of our school slowly, but surely. WE have several moderators on our ning including 3 learning commons staff and several teens. All do an amazing job of making sure that digital citizenship is being practiced on a daily basis. I have only had one occasion to discipline a student and that was when he impersonated another student and started a bit of a craze on the ning. Along with other teachers we used this as an opportunity to take this student and make him a leader for the right reasons in our teen geek squad. Would you believe it he had teachers for parents;) he is one of my leading teen geeks now giving webinars on lots of techie tools! We are trying to grow our online community and establish an engaged community, so we have added sub communities like our GPP and Grad assembly groups as well. WE are constantly evaluating our community to see what is working and what isn’t.  
  • Part of being an established learning commons meant also creating a literacy centre that was 21 century and student savvy, where stud. Book clubs would be the heart of our lc, where students could relate to each other and make new friendships and learn how to use Blackboard Collaborate, Collaborize Classroom where the students are the forum specialists, take polls, write book reviews and make their own video trailers. I use this opportunity to help our students develop their own worldview and deconstruct books. I have been hugely blessed by all of these platforms. Teaching students research tools seems to be changing as you can see from the image above, and I love learning from my students. 
  • Sending our students to Google for fun is not the best option if your students don’t know how to evaluate sources online.
  • Hook your students in with a good hook, image, video, puzzle, problem that is personalised etc. Challenge them with a good question etc. Phase two is building personal expertise, building process skills like questioning and evaluating skills related to people, places, things etc. Phase three works on collaborative intelligence, bringing students together and making it a social process and not something we do in isolation. They can also invent something brand new. Invite them to research using 21 century databases like Ebscohost, Discovery Streaming and BrainPop , as well as teaching how to efffectively use Google
  • Stats for e library reading reveal a new phenomena in engaging students in the learning commons.
  • Researchers found that mutlimedia features of enhanced e books enticed student’s attention, that same attraction could also distract some users. .” Features like animation, sound effects, videos, and games made it more difficult for some parents to keep kids focused on reading and diminished kids’ recall of the text. Parents continually had to tell kids not to turn the page or not to touch the tablets.Parents and teachers should choose basic e-books like the Kindle or Nook over enhanced e-books, such as the iPad, if they want a more literacy-focused co-reading experience with children. However more kids showed higher levels of engagement for the e-books than the print books, though a majority were equally engaged by both book types. Children also physically interacted with the enhanced e-book more than when reading either the print or basic e-book. If younger kids love the interactive books and they are struggling readers then what a great motivator to get them reading.
  • On the other hand, when measuring “overall engagement” —a composite of parent-child interaction, child-book interaction, parent-book interaction, and signs of enjoyment — an interesting trend emerged: 63% of the parent-child pairs were as engaged reading the print book as they were when reading the e-book (both types). Hence we will keep supplying our readers with both physical and digital books in the coming years. We canpar books to our readers doorsteps if they live in BC.
  • KiNDErGartEN: with prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).GraDE 1: Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.GraDE 2: Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.GraDE 3: Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).GraDE 4: interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.GraDE 5: Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.GraDE 6: integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.GraDE 7: Compare and contrast a text to an audio, video, or multimedia version of the text, analyzing each medium’s portrayal of the subject (e.g., how the delivery of a speech affects the impact of the words).GraDE 8: Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea.GraDEs 9-10: analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.GraDEs 11-12: integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
  • Our e library was launched last year and has helped many of our traditional homeschoolers and their students become more tech literate as they learn to use e books and the different devices.
  • Engaging students in the learning commons in the 21 century

    1. 1. • Reading critically (with pen in hand)• Writing to learn, creating, planning, problem solving, discussing, debating, and asking questions.• Performing/presenting, inquiring, exploring, e xplaining, evaluating, and experimenting.• Interacting with other students, gesturing and moving.
    2. 2. OUR KIDS MATTER!
    3. 3. • 69% are social networking site users• 59% share photos and videos• 46% creators; 41% curators• 37% contribute rankings and ratings• 33% create content tags• 30% share personal creations• 26% post comments on sites and blogs• 16% use Twitter• 14% are bloggers• 18% (of smartphone owners) share their locations; 74% get location info and do location sharing
    4. 4. • The Mountain Man’s Cabin• HCOS Running Club.• Fitness Fanatics group walking across Canada.• Music, art Photography and Poetry groups.• Book clubs started by students like Lord of the Rings Junky headquarters• Video game groups, prayer groups, Grad Prep groups, Grad HRT groups,• Teen Geek Squad.
    5. 5. • Social networking rules/digital citizenship.• Digital writing skills re blogging.• Generates student voice/community.• Digital sandbox!• Empowers students and their gifts.• Friendships and group sharing!
    6. 6. .
    7. 7. Book Clubs= Professional developmentand collegiality, and Literacy!Adult winter book club.Junior Book Club: Grades 6-8.GPP Book Club Grades 8-9Read-A-ThonFlat Stanley wiki.Book Reviews.Scoopit Newsletter.Weblinking website.
    8. 8. Presentation tools; Popplet, Prezi, Webspiration. Podcast, Popcorn Videoshttps://popcorn.webmaker.org/Communication Tools: Blackboard Collaborate, CollaborizeClassroom, Edmodo, Blogs, Kidblog, Wikis, Glogster, Skype. Voicethread.Literacy: book reviews, discussions,Trailer videos, learning new technology with Mac Imovie, Windows Moviemaker orAnimoto.Digital Literacy tools: Make stories transformative! http://bit.ly/14tTovaVideo Making https://popcorn.webmaker.org/Disseminating, Curating;Mentor Mob http://www.mentormob.com/Scoopit: http://www.scoop.it/Gooru: http://www.goorulearning.org/gooru/index.g#!/home (established library)Organizational Tools:Symbaloo: http://www.symbaloo.com/Trello: https://trello.com/Social networking tools; Ning, Twitter, Facebook, Edmodo
    9. 9. Critical deepthinking, analyzing, researching,evaluating, creating and sharing!Hook!Challenge!Build personal expertise!Helping students evaluate sources.Collaborative intelligence- social groupsharing.
    10. 10. of American adultsread an e-book in thelast year. read a print book. listened to anaudiobook. of e-content readerssay they are reading morenow.
    11. 11. of those ages 16-29 readbook in past year. of them are reading more in theage of digital content.Read e-books on phones andcomputers more than e-book readersand tablets. visited library in past year.Enhanced e books may lead todistraction and less recall, but veryengaging.Parents need to choose Kobo, Sonyor Kindle, over enhanced books likeiPad, for media focused literacy.