Posts Tagged ‘learning commons’

PostHeaderIcon Marketing & CCLS

Although the Common Core is here to stay at least for now it is more important that ever for librarians to continue to market themselves.  We have Common Core and inquiry-based learning written across our foreheads.  AASL’s Standards for the 21st Century Learner was in effect long before Common Core was a glimmer in the distance.

I have found it effective to use the students who have ownership of the library.  I have created videos about how the students use the library for the school board.  I also attend as many professional developments with the teachers that I am able so I can speak in their language.  In New York, especially with the rise of the required research paper, this falls in the purview of the librarian.  Even if you cannot directly collaborate with the teachers, providing resources and being available is key.

Create an online newsletter that is sent out monthly to the staff.  Include tools the teachers can use to make CCLS compliance a little easier.  MailChimp is a great free website to use for professional looking newsletters.  If you have less than 2000 subscribers and less than 12,0000 emails per month, then it is free.  Present at Faculty Meetings even if it is a 1 minute website highlight or a new database that can help teachers find primary source documents.

Mailchimp“MailChimp is an email marketing service provider, founded in 2001. It has 3.5 million users that collectively send over 4 billion emails a month through the service.” (Wikipedia)

Once you have the newsletter setup it is very quick to just add information when you want to use it.  In fact, I plan to use this monthly for my own school.  I was excited to find it because I had been sporadically sending out information to staff as I came across it.  To have a regular information source for staff is important.

A good article on getting to the heart of the Common Core Learning Standards.  Barbara Stripling and  Diane Ravitch mentioned.  Don’t be an island on to yourself.  Use the resources around you.

PostHeaderIcon Learning Commons Update

I am currently in a Middle School that had the traditional library model in place for many years.  I am not a traditional librarian.  Leave your library media specialists titles at the door.  The library is about the students and creating an atmosphere students want to come to and become creative and innovate.

In fact I have renamed the library the library learning commons.  Why not just learning commons?  Well it has a lot to do with baby steps…completely changing the name would not help a transition.  I also like to think about what Valerie Diggs said about creating the programming first.

One of my major breakthroughs was when some students wanted to create websites for things they are interested in.  This is outside of school work and school projects.  They are taking things they care about and are interested in and creating.  What more could I ask for?  I was a bit giddy with excitement when the students felt comfortable to ask for help.  As a result of this, I will be staying after-school each Thursday to help and learn with students about web design.

The floor plan of the library was extremely compartmentalized.  In an effort to make the space more inviting, I relocated two bookcases.  Teachers and students alike have enjoyed the space.  I also, with the help of student assistants, have sorted the fiction books into genre. The reason for this change was to aid students’ location of books themselves.  Making the library more user friendly is always paramount.

Student helpers have become a big part of making the library a welcoming atmosphere.  Staff reductions have challenged the library program.  I do not have a library assistant every day.  All three learning commons share a single library assistant.  So every 6 days she is at the middle school two days.  Therefore, student helpers are imperative and the students love it.

Future plans include book fairs, of course, as well as listening lunches.  Taking advantage of the musical groups and talents in the school will result in an open forum for student talent.

Technology and wireless are a defining part of the new learning commons.  The last librarian purchased 4 ipod touches but did not have a chance to utilize them.  Upon the opening of the library learning commons this year, those iPods were loaded with educational apps, music, audiobooks, and much much more.  Students can check them out during study halls and use them in the library learning commons.  Thus far, I have noticed many students use them to listen to music while doing homework.  They also tend to use one as a group.  It is a social experience.  They use the camera and edit pictures on the fly with CamWow.

More to come….:)


PostHeaderIcon Gaming in the School Library

Justin Hoenke, Teen Librarian at Cape May County Library, guest posts at Library Garden with 5 Reasons why you should be gaming in your Library. If you’re considering video game programs or circulating video game collections in your library, you will want to check out this article for Hoenke’s reasons:

  1. Welcome to the 21st Century!
  2. Gaming builds community.
  3. You will see all sorts of new people in your library.
  4. You couldn’t ask for an easier way to get teens interested in the library.
  5. The initial cost may be high, but the return investment is priceless.

(Source: iLibrarian)

Now Justin is looking at a public library, but these reasons are just as important in School Libraries.  If we are trying to transition libraries into learning commons, then it is imperative that we get to where the students are.  Students are doing more with games than simply playing them.

This past April, to coincide with School Library month, I did a schoolwide read-a-thon.  We are a small K-3 building and we (staff and students) read over 83K pages.  The reward (the goal being 30K) is a Chocolate party.  During each library class for the next cycle (6 days), students will have a chocolate party.  Included in this chocolate party is moi dressed as a fairy.  Not to mention wii and board games.  I have heard a lot about gaming in the library and the utilization of games in education.  Well, I am putting this to the test this week and a day.  We shall see how it goes.

I have a plan.  Thankfully, our Library System has Wiis to borrow as well as games.  So I have 2 Wiis (8 controllers) and 4 wheels for Mario Cart.   Each Wii will be a center and at the remaining tables will be board games.  Each of these activities are all about collaboration and using the strengths of each other to complete a goal.  Another goal is to have students who do not have this technology at home experience it – not to mention proper behavior during games (good sportsmanship and empathy).

The Librarians Guide to Gaming

Library Game Lab @ Syracuse (University)


PostHeaderIcon The ADHD Epidemic

This is an interesting video on education.  I would like to think that Libraries are moving in the right direction.  Learning Commons and other creative experiences work against this enlightenment and industrial revolution idea of education.

PostHeaderIcon Learning Commons & Music

During the fall, I was lucky enough to be a part of a 3-day Learning Commons workshop (with David Loertscher and Allison Zmuda).  I learned a lot about integrating a Learning Commons model into our school library.  One of things that I was doing and did not realize it was the use of music.  When students are working and/or looking for books I will put on music that they enjoy.  We have bean bag chairs for students to use to “get comfortable” in the learning commons (library).  Even though I am at the elementary level,  it is quite easy to try to use the principles of a Learning Commons model.  Inquiry and experiential learning work perfectly with my goals for student learning and success.

So today, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite sites for streaming music.  These can be used for you or for your students.  I know that when I am working on papers, lesson plans, blogs, and many other things I am an avid music listener.

GrooveShark – this is an online streaming site that allows users to create playlists, favorites, and uploading music.  The user can then play playlists which allow shuffling songs and looping songs.  The only play feature not free is cross-fading songs.  The user can also access GrooveShark on digital devices such as blackberry and iphone.  However, it has been removed from Andriod apps due to complaints by record companies.  We shall see how record companies deal with such sites. (Note: It uses Flash)

Pandora this is another online streaming site that allows users to create playlists and favorites.  However, unlike GrooveShark, there are advertisements.  This could be a problem in schools depending on the commercials’ content.  You do need an account to use the service (without an account you can listen for a finite amount of time and then it prompts you to create an account).  Lack of clutter on the main page is a plus.  Although there is audio add, there is a lack of visual adds much like grooveShark.  The interface is very easy to use.  The service uses songs added to create a channel.  The user cannot choose a playlist like grooveshark and listen to any song at any time (with the free version).  The user can skip songs but there is a limit of times one can do this.  Pandora works on all major Smartphones.  iDevice App; Android App

TuneFort is a web app that lets you search, download and listen to songs for free. In a way, it can be described as “Grooveshark Lite”. Users can search for songs and add them to a playlist for online streaming. It’s nowhere near as robust as Grooveshark, but it’s fast, streamlined and does its job well.(Source)  Users do not create accounts, therefore no information is saved for future use (you must create a new playlist each time you go to the site) Note: Tunefort does not host any of the songs on its server. All songs are uploaded to by 4shared’s users. Tunefort is merely a simple web interface for 4shared’s massive database of songs. 4shared, much like many other filesharing sites, is operating under Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Jango (according to them) is free because of advertising.  This streaming music site is full of advertising.  It is everywhere in audio and visually.  There are popups frequently.  This is probably my least favorite in terms of functionality.  It is cluttered, however, you can create an account and save your playlists.  Much like Pandora, you cannot actually play a specific song.  You can add songs to your playlist which will increase the likelihood that said song will play on your station. is a free music playlist and streaming service. It is completely legal and free to use to the general public. With Audiolizer, you can create, save and share music playlists, allowing you to listen to music anywhere you have internet access.  One of the coolest facets of audiolizer is that you can upload your iTunes library into the cloud in order to listen to it anywhere with an internet connection.  I did find that when I upload it did not seem to upload all songs and this could be because the site uses Youtube to access the music, making it legal.  No music is hosted on the site.  So any less mainstream songs would not be added to the site.  You can create playlists and save them after creating an account.  I do wish in the future you could also upload your iTunes playlists.




April 2014
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