CCHS is a high performing school 20 miles west of Boston. Just shy of 1400 students.
First year 2007-2008 I knew I wanted to make changes, but also needed to observe for a time and assess what was in place. Physically the library is huge, open plan over 3 floors with ramps connecting all the levels. It is the first space you see on entering the main entrance of the school. Windows on 2 sides so it is filled with light and sky - well, sort of. All the best spaces were filled with books. Students had least desirable seating. There was one cramped area for a class to meet. Very traditional program focused on maintaining silence and individual study at all times. It felt like a cluttered prison.
Book cases block light and best views Signs all over Reinforcing silent individual study as the only appropriate use The no food signs hadn’t worked. They snuck food in and messes were common. There were so many rules and punishments the library was a place of continual conflict.
I knew what I wanted, and I knew the students couldn’t wait any longer. Based on everything I was reading and hearing at conferences from leaders in the field, we needed to start by putting student needs first. We also needed to diversify our collection, and start promoting 21st century skills for students and faculty. The library I walked into valued books more than students. The space was dedicated to housing stuff, and it was holding me back. In order to make the shift, I needed a multi-pronged approach.
We needed to change ourselves. With the library staff and our Human Resources department we re-wrote all our job descriptions, focusing on student services and professional development. We went from having 3 generic assistant librarians to 3 specific areas of expertise. Reference Librarian changed to Student Services Specialist Clerical changed to Accounts Specialist Created the role of Media Production Specialist. Partnering with our local Cablecast company I was able to hire a professional videographer and independent documentary producer. She keeps our technology humming along, handles updates, and can provide advanced support for student digital and media projects. My job description was adapted to reflect that as a teacher my content area is information and media literacy, and the skills and technologies to support them. As Alan November suggests, I am redefining the role of Librarian as Information and Global Communication Specialist. We are rewriting the evaluation for my position this year. Our staff was totally re-energized and bought in with the changes. We became a very strong team focused on the students.
In 2007 the CCHS Library respected the books too much, and the students too little. Cleared space filling 2 20 foot containers of junk. Our district has invested heavily in technology, but none of it ever made it to the library. We had 8 PCs, Quickly added first floor ActivBoard area, 1 laptop cart (20). Added 10 desktop iMacs Weeded and started reorganizing collection - removed 5,000 books, and began process of consolidating the collection on the 3rd floor, and also putting it into sequential order. Previously it was so confusing you needed a librarian to help you find anything. Collaborative outreach - department visits inviting them to visit Professional development for faculty - databases, basic tools Baked a lot of cookies
More technology - We retired the PCs and got 22 additional desktop iMacs, second ActivBoard area, second laptop cart, and became the test space for new wireless technologies that are now being installed throughout our campus. Installed a New Media Lab in the former Teacher’s Professional Library with - 8 beefy Mac editing stations, loaded with with everything, and external hard drives for student work. Grants - soft chairs, digital Flip cameras, student supply carts for projects Collection development - graphic novels, ebooks, Playaways, MP3 CDs and players (direct curriculum support), digital Flip cameras (10) PAUSE - SO, WHAT DID CHANGE LOOK LIKE?
Technology - clear books to create instructional spaces featuring digital technologies. On the main floor of the learning commons, this area is used for student presentations, clubs, classes, professional development -constant use. And it is located right by the entrance so instead of looking in at books, you see a dynamic area busy with diverse activities.
This is the 3rd floor. Books were moved to carve out a second class area. The nice thing about this area is that we were able to consolidate nonfiction and reference to proved a space the really works well to support student research. It also has a laptop cart with 20 laptops and is right near the media lab.
Old Teacher’s Professional Lounge - dirty, neglected, obsolete and unprofessional. The new media lab has 8 robust production stations, but it isn’t pretty - yet. It needs fresh paint and furniture that matches, but students are so busy working they don’t seem to notice.
The microfiche was replaced with 8 iMacs.
New light grid was installed featuring energy efficient, state of the art fixtures that fill the space with clean light. Gorgeous.
Our local Garden Club gave us a grant to revitalize the old planter and provided us with plants and pots for the library. Brought color and energy.
William Shakespeare and Mark Twain posters have been replaced with original Student art - we hosted the Urban Art Club’s first exhibition.
Games, supply carts with basic student supplies, new dictionaries (English, Foreign Languages), basic arts and crafts supplies. Also got a $15,000 grant for high end digital cameras, green screen, light and audio kits to jump start video production opportunities for students. Partnering with our local cablecast company for training.
Grants for new soft chairs for flexible seating.
This year we are looking for grants to showcase student art - frames, display spaces for more delicate art. PAUSE and set up EVIDENCE of CHANGE Ross Todd might ask we if we have been able to provide any evidence of change.
Students are checking out more books than ever. 55% increase! This year seems stronger than last.
2008 - 2009 average daily # student visits over 600 2007 - 2008 346 class visits 2008 - 2009 470 class visits - 35% INCREASE although this past Wednesday we close to 800 students. Again, this increase is driven by class visits.
This is one measure of the impact the learning commons is having on professional development. Last May I visited departments to introduce and give tutorials on wikis. This September we held a faculty training session and you can see the activity. Teachers are really enjoying using wikis and their students are benefiting. We are planning more programs for staff to keep the momentum going.
Using Google docs Forms, we are tracking data. By keeping our eye on the standards we can assess the quality of instruction and provide school administration with concrete reasons to continue to support our program. This is powerful data for advocacy.
The skills are based on the standards. Note the training in specific applications at the bottom. Students are building their Web 2.0 skill sets in almost every class visit.
Again, we are tracking very specific data points. I am keeping an eagle eye on databases here, and anticipate this to make a big jump as we get further into the year and teachers start assigning research activities. Still, good data like this keeps us focused on our students and the services we need to be providing. Looking at this I can approach department chairs and ask them to touch base with their teachers and get back to me. The Learning Commons is providing departments with solid data on student work.
This data pool in particular keeps our program laser focused on creating authentic assessment of student progress. It is also a very good indicator of how successful we are in collaborating with teachers. Using the Learning Commons as a professional development center will hopefully continue to help us with this, as indicated by our wiki stats.
Continue what we have started, and keep evaluating, keeping the core values of the Learning Commons center to our mission and planning. One of my professional goals this year is to further develop our virtual space and expand awareness of the 24/7 support we can provide our students and faculty.
LARGE renovation - learning commons central, online learning, planned collaborative spaces, performance/Skype forum, tech rich, wireless, genius bar, pilot digital texts to prepare Rededicating as the CCHS Learning Commons People have strong emotional connections to libraries. This hits a nerve. We know and understand libraries, but information has changed, format has changed, publishing has changed - we have to change. In 20 years Learning Commons may have the same sorts of emotional context that libraries hold today.
So we have gone from being a warehouse of books and broken furniture to a busy, vibrant place for students and faculty to gather and learn in a wireless, connected, 21st century environment. It is a vibrant place filled with space, light, student art, student life, and teachers talking and learning. The cost of this transition to the district is has been minimal. It was done with sweat equity, cookies, and grants. Thanks to Valerie Diggs, Sandy Kelly and the Massachusetts School Library Association for providing me with the professional development and vision to start the process of creating a true Learning Commons for the students, faculty and community of Concord-Carlisle High School.
Cchs Learning Commons
Transitioning to a Learning Commons <ul><li>Concord-Carlisle High School </li></ul><ul><li>Concord, MA </li></ul>
2007 - 2008 <ul><li>Cleared space </li></ul><ul><li>Technology </li></ul><ul><li>Weeded and started reorganizing collection </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative outreach </li></ul><ul><li>Professional development for faculty </li></ul><ul><li>Baked a lot of cookies </li></ul>
2008 - 2009 <ul><li>More technology </li></ul><ul><li>Grants </li></ul><ul><li>Collection development </li></ul>Chocolate Chip Cookie Uploaded on March 20, 2006 by roboppy
Wiki Stats <ul><li>Professional development - effective </li></ul><ul><li>+ 23% users </li></ul><ul><li>+106% increase in wiki creation </li></ul><ul><li>+ 308% course related communication </li></ul>9/21/09 1/14/10
Next Steps… Continue to develop <ul><li>our virtual space </li></ul><ul><li>collaborative 21st century curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>as the center for professional development and innovation </li></ul><ul><li>plans for our new facility </li></ul>
Evolution <ul><li>Planning for new space </li></ul><ul><li>National Library Week </li></ul><ul><li>Addressing emotional connections </li></ul>