Sunday, January 28, 2018

Innovative Libraries

Personalized learning is something that libraries pride themselves in.  From choosing books of interest to makerspaces, coding and other media literacies there is a lot that libraries offer students.  School libraries have changed from story time and book checkout to incredibly inviting and engaging spaces that children look forward to in entirely new ways.  Based on what I have read, seen in person, and my own experiences as a school library media specialist, I believe we can do more.

Ever since I became a classroom teacher, I have envisioned a space where children are all working on different projects of their choice.  For me, this is authentic learning and the purpose of school.  With today's technology I still envision that and some of them may be engaged with VR Research or creation, some may be researching online, creating their own websites (vlogs or podcasts), some may be reading books, some may be using robots, making with everyday materials or 3D printing materials.  With today's technology, the only limit is one's imagination.

As a classroom teacher, I have explored personalized learning to some extent.  I engaged students in project based learning that provided them choice in what they learned, how they learned, and even at times how they would demonstrate that learning.  I have even set up the teaching and learning in my classrooms so that students could learn at their own by employing adaptive sites like Khan Academy, designing playlists, and even having multiple mini-lessons to teach the same skill.  IMHO each resulted in incredible student engagement and a passion for learning.  While at the time I felt confined to state standards, standardized testing, and a feeling of being stranded on island, I still believed that there MUST be a way to ensure that students learn the standards while doing whatever they want however they want.

If you are a school librarian or classroom teacher who thinks that this is still possible, I encourage you to listen to this podcast about Innovation Class.  There are some great arguments for why innovation has to happen in schools, as well as structures and suggestions that make it doable in school settings.  I got a great deal out of this podcast and this finally led me to how I can turn that initial vision into a reality.