by Lisa Singh, EducationMatters
The Douglasdale School hallway was overflowing with welcoming smiles of excited students, community members and teachers each taking pride in their school as they walked towards the under construction sign that had been covering the windows for weeks. The excitement and suspense was contagious, but soon the doors were opened and the mystery was unveiled! The new library room was filled with knee-high furniture to match the needs of the school’s K-4 students, beautiful paintings prepared by the students, new technology, QR codes leading to educational websites, and even educational board games for the “board room”! Chattering students were huddling over the Smartboard and examining the new creation station designed to make animated movies and robotics.
The digital age is changing the way we use our libraries and the way K-12 students learn. Most libraries offer a silent space and the opportunity to read and borrow books to take home, in addition, the Learning Commons provides research and discussion opportunities, meeting rooms and enables the students’ exploration of course material. The library is no longer just a quiet place, in fact it’s the opposite – it’s a space that brings student’s together to work, play, learn and socialize.
A key to the success of this project is the flexibility it offers. Students are able to come in to the Learning Commons to work on projects and learn on the devices they are eager to use. This transformation offers comfortable and movable furniture while promoting flexible work spaces for students, teachers and community members. The new Learning Commons encapsulates everything from books and “campfire areas” to creation stations, robotics, iMacs, iPads and Smartboards. The Douglasdale Learning Commons is the true embodiment of their school’s motto, “Imagine! Explore! Create!”.
“The only engagement we had was the child would bring home a library book, we would sit down and read it with them then they would return it after a certain number of days,” reflects Dianna Peters, a parent of the Douglasdale School student.” With the technology now, with different computers, creation stations and the campfire area there is a great opportunity for the parents to find out what their kids are doing. The kids can come home and teach us about downloading different apps because that’s what it is about these days, the kids teaching their parents.”
EducationMatters established the funding for the Douglasdale Learning Commons and has been developing new donor relationships to assist 10 more public school libraries to embark on this unique path of transforming libraries into state of the art Learning Commons for 2013.