School District 79 Cowichan Valley SD#79 Cowichan Valley

School Name: School District 79 Cowichan Valley

School District: SD#79 Cowichan Valley

Inquiry Team Members:Sheri Kinney:, Iva Allen:, Beth Elliott:, Genny Redman:, Greg Wall:, Kristy Gallazin:, Amy Loudon:, Darcie Zibin:, Rebecca Steele:, Carys Hawthorne:, Katherine Miller:, Angie Brockhurst:, Karen Evans:, Andrew Dodd:, Alana Baker:

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

Type of Inquiry: NOII (focus on core competencies, OECD learning principles, etc.)

Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7), Secondary (8-12)

Curricular Area(s): Applied Design, skills & Technology, Language Arts – Literacy, Language Arts – Reading

Focus Addressed: Flexible learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? We investigated how we could move from more traditional libraries to a Library Learning Commons model in an effort to better support today’s students.

Scanning: We had been talking about how our libraries were strong but could welcome more students and more learning opportunities by doing things differently. Instead of being limited to traditional library activities, we wondered how we might support a wider variety of learning. We considered “Where are you going with your learning?” as a sparking question. We also considered “Where to next?” as students must be able to chart courses of their own in order to fully embrace their learning.

Focus: We had been noticing and studying the transition from library to Library Learning Commons, and we realized that we were feeling stretched and somewhat limited by old models of scheduling, traditional library lessons, and by our physical spaces. We were trying to support 21st century learners within a 20th century model. We hoped to support our learners by widening the scope of learning opportunities available in our spaces and with ourselves (inside or outside of the physical space). We hoped by redefining what “library” is, we could better serve our learners.

Hunch: One hunch we had early on was that the fixed scheduling in an elementary library was rigid and did not invite organic learning. Students were limited to library time that was once a week during a certain time and on a certain day. We thought by making the schedule more flexible, teachers and students could follow their passions more often and come to the library when it made sense for them rather than when they were scheduled. Another hunch was that an always quiet literacy-centered library was limiting. We suspected that quiet and reading were not always appropriate for all learners at all times, and that if we widened the scope of activities, we would find more entry points to all kinds of learning, including more traditional quiet reading and story times.

New Professional Learning: Two main documents we studied were the Canadian Library Association’s “Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons” and the BCTLA’s “From Library to Learning Commons”. Both of these resources were extremely helpful as they provided lots of information and some practical frameworks. Also, as there were many of us, we explored the LLC model on our own as well and then came together to share new understanding. While together, we worked in both small and large groups to process then share understandings. Then, we strategized about where to go next.

Taking Action: We decided that we would each try to make some changes in our libraries, both procedurally and physically, and observe and ask the learning community how the changes were working. For example, many of us altered our schedules in order to make them more flexible. We observed that learners enjoyed this change because they got to come to us when they wanted to, while teachers were harder to convince initially. The freedom and looser schedule was a big change to the teachers, but most eventually enjoyed it. We found that we could use a blended schedule to provide flexibility for teachers who wanted it while maintaining some fixed times for teachers who still wanted that.
Physically, we each made some changes in our spaces. We found that the simple act of putting wheels on shelving and cabinets dramatically improved the overall use of the space. We could reconfigure the space to accommodate more learning opportunities than we had before.

Checking: The differences we made with scheduling was important. Now that teachers know that a looser or blended schedule is available, we can support them better. One of the benefits of having a blended schedule is that, even though there are still some fixed times, learners can also come to the library at other times that make sense for them and their learning. We used circulation statistics and library use stats for a baseline and found that both rose. Students took out more books than they had before and teachers filled up the bookable time in the looser schedules. Anecdotally, teachers and learners told us they felt both more comfortable and more energized in the space. They were more eager to spend time in the spaces doing a variety of activities. Learners were more likely to give detailed answers to the four questions, indicating that they found the learning more meaningful and easier to articulate.

Reflections/Advice: We learned that we need to not only keep up to advances in educational practice, but also get out there and help lead the way. We plan to dive deeper into our inquiry next year by investigating certain aspects of Library Learning Commons that some of us explored this year, like the ADST curriculum, particularly makerspace. We would tell other schools and districts to be brave and look to the future. We would advise that they read the research and connect with others making similar journeys via personal visits, social media, and journal articles.

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