Ah, the development of an essential question!!
In reading the passion profiles, I was immediately struck by Passion #2 “The Curriculum”. I love tweaking curriculum to make it more relevant and engaging for my students. I rarely teach the same lesson in the same way. I always considered myself a bit of a ‘nerd’ to actually enjoy curriculum planning and development. Over the course of my 24-year career, I have seen several re-inventions of the BC Curriculum: from “Whole Language” to “Back to Basics with detailed IRPs” and a variety of iterations in between.
My second passion would be #4: “Teaching Strategies and Techniques”. Yes, I do find myself lying awake some nights devising new strategies for teaching a particular concept. I do have my tried and true methods that are successful, but I love to glean and/or invent new ways to engage my students.
Passion #7 “Advocating Equity and Social Justice” certainly ranks in my top three. I love to challenge my students to think deeply about social justice issues that pertain to both world events and to their local communities/relationships. Moving to grade 7 last year provided many opportunities for rich conversations about “Conflict”, “Stereotypes”, “Homelessness” and “Refugee Crisis”. I created action projects in which my students went out into the community to help build community gardens for Habitat for Humanity housing complex, make sandwiches/cookies for a weekly homeless ministry in Burnaby and interact with immigrant and refugee children at a nearby non-profit housing complex. The reactions from my students were fantastic. One student commented, “It felt great to meet some of the needs in my community, even though I am only a kid.”
I suppose one could say that my goals for this course are wrapped up in my passions. I seek ways to interact with the curriculum (both this course and the new BC Ed Plan) through a variety of tools and techniques that would really cause my students to pause and think about what they are learning and how they can impact the world around them.
Essential Question formation:
In wrestling with my essential question, I need to provide a bit of background into my teaching environment. I am teaching at at K-7 independent school. (just a side note, it is the same school that I attended as a child!) We are bursting at the seams and are in the midst of a building project of a new high school. I have strongly indicated my desire to take on the role of the teacher-librarian at this new site. My administration is completely on board with the Learning Commons model and whole-heartedly embraces this direction. However, we are new to this! I have the possibility to set up a new library in a new facility. What a fantastic opportunity!
So the essential questions I am wrestling with are:
- How can maker spaces in the Learning Commons be used to foster knowledge building, creativity and innovation? (Leading Learning, p. 30)
- In a brand new Learning Commons, how can I foster a culture that values life-long learning? [refer to Leading Learning, p. 30]
- How do I set up a learning commons in a brand new school that will become the “nerve centre of the school” (Leading Learning, p.6)
Response to Readings:
I have looked through this document on several occasions as part of my previous course work in the T-L program. It is a well-written document that clearly outlines the steps schools can move through in transitioning towards a learning commons model. I am especially drawn to pages 6-7 that describe the rationale and the explanation of the learning commons model. I don’t want my library to be just about collecting dots but about “connecting [the dots] through cross-curricular partnerships that boost critical thinking, problem solving, decision making and communicating abilities” (Leading Learning, p.6.
As listed in the document, the following standards outline the various roles of the Learning Commons and provide a framework for my thinking as I set up a Learning Commons:
- “The library learning commons plays a key role in cultivating and facilitating collaboration to provide rich experiential learning opportunities” (p.11)
- “The ultimate goal of the library learning commons is improved student achievement through the refining of instruction for essential literacy, research and inquiry and communication skills.” (p. 13)
- “Knowledge-building, creativity and innovation, and honing of information management and literacy skills are key goals of the learning commons. (p. 15)
- “The school Library Learning Commons has a leading role in assisting learners to hone and apply an expanded notion of literacy as well as fostering an active reading culture.” (p. 17)
- “Active and knowledgeable involvement in participatory learning… through the [development of] security, privacy and good digital citizenship practices as well as effective collaboration skills and ensuring accessibility for all.” (p. 19)
IFLA School Library Guidelines
The second reading is a very helpful resource. My school does not have a library handbook and I can see that much of the detailed information within this document would be so useful in creating one. I appreciate how well laid out the document is and the extensive list of resources at the end of each chapter. In light of the possible direction of my essential question, chapter 5 “Programs and Activities of a School Library” stood out for me.
Bermudez, P., Cabera, B., & Emm, L. (n.d.). Passion Profiles. Adapted from G. Thompson-Grove’s, “Student Profiles,”. National School Reform Faculty. Retrieved from http://www.nsrfharmony.org/system/files/protocols/passion_profiles.pdf
Canadian Library Association. (2014) Leading learning: Standards of practice for school library learning commons in Canada. Ottawa: Ontario.
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. (2015) IFLA School Library Guidelines., 2nd revised Ed. Den Haag, Netherlands.