The Four Elements of the
V.W.P.S. Learning Commons

Physical and Virtual, Equitable Access,
Learning Partnerships & Technology in Learning

Physical & Virtual Space

The Physical and Virtual Spaces of the Learning Commons will undergo construction in August/September 2014. To start, the physical space of the Learning Commons will be opened up to allow for more creative collaboration amongst students. This space will allow four main areas including collections, the technology lab, a creativity loft and a presentation/work space. The collections will feature an assortment fiction and non- fiction materials to support the Ontario Curriculum. The technology labs will feature a SMARTboard, computers, laptops, iPods and e-readers. The creativity loft will feature a zone where students can collaborate and create T.V. news casts, podcasts, animations, stop motion and short films. It will also include a 3D model zone with an assortment of building materials including Lego and other medium to allow students to create, build and present their ideas through a physical representation. The presentation workspace can be accessed from multiple viewpoints as a digital projector exists on the south side of the library and a SMARTboard on the north side. Each table will allow enough space for student collaboration and inspiration. Please see the YouTube video below as an example of how students can use the creativity loft.

The Virtual Space of the Learning Commons exists on the Vaughan Willard P.S. website. It will include many samples of student work produced in the Learning Commons, digital resources for projects, teaching resources and a collection of ebooks. Students will have access to content from the Learning Commons virtual space 24/7.

Equitable Access

Part of the Learning Commons objective is to create a space for all students. The Physical space of the Learning Common is designed for every student in mind - which is why an open concept design allow each student access. Many technologies are more mobile than ever which allow students to move about to various locations in the library. The virtual space will allow students to access to Assistive Technology formats in Kurzweil.

Through inquiry-based learning, each students' needs can be accommodated and/or modified throughout various projects.  Because the space allows for all different types of learners, students have a choice as to how they would like to present their ideas via technology, written work, voice recordings or hands-on manipulatives. For students to excel, they need the right 'stage' to perform on.

Learning Partnerships

Many initiatives will take place in the Learning Commons. There will be many opportunities for students to develop their inquiry skills, research skills, creativity skills, presentation skills, evaluative skills, collaborative skills and problem-solving skills. Our first initiative will focus on Inquiry-Based Learning. The new social studies curriculum is based on this concept. Students develop questions based on a topic and conduct research methods to find out more information and present their ideas. This is certainly where the learning commons is most helpful. The learning commons will provide a comfortable place for students to inquire about topic through book and digital research.

Using the skills of inquiry-based learning comes Genius Hour. Genius hour is a project that allows the students to choose the topic rather than from a theme unit or from Social Studies and Science.

Most librarians have been able to run this initiative once a week as part of their block

Students Focus:

Students will work on their cooperative skills (if in groups), Research skills, Literacy skills, presentation skills, problem solving skills and time management.

Impact of student Learning and Engagement

I believe this initiative is high interest and at a level suitable for all grades. I think this will create and spark more interest and passion. I think it may change a student’s outlook on education, as it is more of a grassroots style of learning. This may plant a seed for further development and give reason as to why they are learning the things they learn as part of the curriculum.

Read Alouds will always be a part of the Learning Commons.

Forest of Reading is "designed to include students of all ages."

Below is an explanation from the Ontario Library Association.  

Technology in Learning

1) Basic Technology training: This will occur at a more intensive standpoint at the beginning of the year. Partnering with classroom teachers will be scheduled. Training on Microsoft Word, Smart Notebook, PowerPoint and Web 2.0 tools. This may be implemented through a lesson-based approach and/or carousel. This will also include any Digital Citizenship course for grade 6 -8 for those students needing to acquire and digital citizenship license and/or as a refresher.

2) Assistive Technology Training: This special course will be offered to students with or will be receiving an SEA laptop. This will include Kurzweil, Smart Ideas, Dragon Naturally Speaking, Word Q Speaking and Talking Pointer.

3) Digital Resources and the Learning Commons Website: The purpose of this is to allow students, staff and the school community access repository of resources like eBooks, digital articles, Kurzweil formats, Web 2.0 tool links as well as teaching resource links.

4) Numeracy support through digital manipulatives: Through partnering with homeroom teachers, students can receive training on how to represent their math thinking through digital manipulatives. This can be achieved through the use of smart notebook and web 2.0 tools. http://www.nelson.com/leapsandbounds/documents/online_tr_sampler/index.html

5) Book Talks are another excellent way to display student understanding of text. See example below.  

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