Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Learning Commons is...

As Treasure Mountain 3 drew to a close, it was very evident that the connections between participants from across the country had deepened in a common purpose - the care and nurturing of the school library learning commons.

In this video, participants use everyday objects to build metaphors for our collective actions. That's Dr. David Loertscher leading the activity, and across the table from him is our very special guest Dr. Barbara Stripling, president of the American Library Association and a great champion of school libraries.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Leading Learning Photos 2014

The Official Launch of Leading Learning at the CLA Conference 2014 in Victoria, BC

The Crowd Gathers...

ALA President and special guest Barbara Stripling with Dr. David Loertscher

Steering Committee members Linda Schantz-Keresztes and Judith Sykes present Leading Learning to CLA Executive Council, represented by Jane Schmidt.

Thank you for your support, Canadian Library Association!

Table Talk Photos

Collective Knowledge Building During Table Talks at TMC3, Victoria BC

Friday, May 30, 2014

Creative Problem-Solving and the Big Think

As we all go forth and try to implement Leading Learning in our schools and districts, there are going to be obstacles. It's easy to become discouraged. But how can we turn our challenges around and create solutions?

Dr. David Loertscher has challenged participants at this third Treasure Mountain Canada to use maker thinking to create an approach to dealing with the challenges. He created scenarios and people are busy creating artefacts.

The Big Think!

Now we're wrapping up with the "big think". Participants are completing this sentence.

A big idea I got today was:

  • Thank goodness there is still a vibrant, enthusiastic group of professionals leading school libraries in Canada
  • I know very, very little about school library education in other provinces
  • How we should be bringing teacher-librarians and pre-service teachers together 
  • We need a touchstone for learning in our area in between TMCs (Look out Ontario!)
  • When we get together that we realize that we have more in common than differences within our diversities
  • New ideas for informal assessment in the Learning Commons
  • Teacher-librarians are givers and they don't self-promote. Encourage and praise your colleagues: RETWEET!
  • We can make an impact beyond this room. People across the country are engaged in today's event through our blog and Twitter feed, and they are excited!

Go forth and implement!

Table Talks Round 3

The focus for our third round of table talks is the Leading Learning thread, Designing Learning Environments to Support Participatory Learning.

To kick off thinking about this theme, Dr. David Loertscher and Marc Compton shared strategies and tools for building a Virtual Learning Commons.

Here are the topics for this round of table talks.

Lois Nunn: The Mindful Library: A Path to Student Well-Being, Mental Health Literacy, and Mindfulness in the Library and Learning Commons

Pippa Davies: Engaging Students in the Heritage Christian Schools Learning Commons

Dr. David Loertscher: The uTec Maker Fair


In an earlier post in this blog I took a stab at debunking the myth of the digital native with a large body of current research. This afternoon at TMC3 I reviewed the myths of popular perception and the realities as revealed by the research of what kids do with online technology.

This afternoon we looked at the big ideas from the research, and imagined the possibilities in the learning commons. I then posed the question, How can we boost teacher-librarians' comfort to learn with and about technology to leverage the critical leadership role in the learning commons?

I've gathered some feedback, and intend to synthesize them in a future blog post. Here's a link to my paper: Myths, Realities and Opportunities: What the Research Says about Digital Literacy.

Table Talk Round 2: Instructional Design

We have now started our second round of table talks, this time on the Leading Learning theme, Cultivating Effective Instructional Design to Co-Plan, Teach and Assess Learning.

Here are the links to our discussion leaders' papers.

Judith Sykes: Moving Forward: Implementing and Sustaining the School Library Learning Commons Through Mentoring, Accountability, Research, Community (MARC)

Jeanne Conte: Inquiry Into Use of iPads in the Library Learning Commons: Peel Teacher-Librarian iPad Exploration

Alanna King: Transliteracy and the Teacher-Librarian

Diane Oberg: Relentlessly Focused on Learning

Diane Oberg, Professor Emerita from the University of Alberta named her paper on a quote from from a British inspector for education (Ofsted), who described the work of a secondary school as being "relentlessly focused on learning". And that, stresses Oberg, is what the work of the school library learning commons should be all about. She is talking about the importance of evaluation, based on standards, to foster this work. The impact of the program needs to be measured through evidence-based practice.

You can read Diane's paper at:

Table Talk, Round One

Table Talks are a highlight of the TMC experience. This is not an event focused on talking heads! In this first round of table talks, three people who submitted papers facilitate a discussion about their particular topics. Participants in TMC rotate to participate in two out of the three discussions for each time frame. Me? I'm eavesdropping, and pointing you to the presenters' papers for further exploration.

Here are the presenters and papers for this round:

Marc Crompton: Personal Learning Environments: A Catalyst for Student Ownership of Learning

Peggy Lunn: Ontario's Faculty of Education Librarians: A (Still) Untapped Resource for School Library Advocacy

Monica Berra: Building a District Learning Commons

TMC participants are listening through the lens of the Leading Learning theme, Facilitating Collaborative Engagement to Cultivate and Empower a Community of Learners.

Anita Brooks Kirkland

BCTLA: From School Library to Library Learning Commons

We are very excited to be hearing about this exciting new document from the British Columbia Teacher-Librarians' Association. How exciting it is to see the draft document, generously printed for us and distributed to participants in TMC3. Respecting the constraints of the job action currently under way in BC's schools, we are doing our best to hear our BC colleagues voices and stories of the grand journey culminating with this document.

Of course, culminating is a poor choice of words, because this new BC guideline, combined with Leading Learning, provides a solid, sharable and credible basis upon which to build.

The energy builds across the nation!

Anita Brooks Kirkland

Introducing Leading Learning!

Judith Sykes, who with Carol Koechlin is the co-author of the new standards, Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada, is telling us about the grand collaborative experience of building this landmark document. She is emphasizing the non-hierarchical structure of the document. The room broke out in a chorus of "OOOOs and Ahhhhs" when Judith told the group about all of the Canadian examples that are embedded into and linked from the document.

You can read more about the process of developing the new standards in Judith's article in School Libraries in Canada.

Diane Oberg tells us that this is the FIFTH set of national standards for school libraries in Canada!

Anita Brooks Kirkland
Beginning the day with examining our preconceptions around the changes needed in education to better prepare learners for their future.

Getting us ready to consider our new Library Standards doc

Coming to You Live from TMC3

Treasure Mountain Canada 3 has begun! After a fabulous kick-off last night with Barbara Stripling's keynote, we're ready to get down to work. And Carol Koechlin's inspiring words as she accepted the the CLA Dorothy Shoemaker Award have set our mindset for the day. 

We are trying a grand experiment today. Ruth Hall and I will be doing our best to "live blog" throughout the day, sharing participants' and presenters' ideas and insights. 

Participants have started by sharing their thoughts on what major shifts they would like to see in education for the future. You can see the ideas building on this Google Sheet

Anita Brooks Kirkland

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Changing one life at a time

Barbara Strickling, American Library Association President 2013-14,  defines the role of school libraries through multiple lenses of: literacy; inquiry; social & emotional growth; fostering the attitudes essential for success; critical & creative thinking; and promoting equity and honouring diversity. These are the challenges and opportunities for those of us working in school libraries.

Libraries Change Lives

TMC3 opens tonight with a keynote address by ALA President, Barbara Stripling before embark on a full day of discussions framed around the 2014 TMC3 papers. The papers have been published as a Book2Cloud Edition, a digital format that provides open access to promote conversation and collaboration.

The TMC3 papers, edited by David Loerstcher, Carol Koechlin and Judith Sykes is titled: Leading Learning for the Future

Explore the papers, grouped below by these, add your voice to the conversation and engage in rich opportunity for expanding your professional learning:

Leading Learning is Now Available!

Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada is now available! Excitement is certainly building in Victoria as we look forward to Barbara Stripling's keynote this evening, and the launch of TMC 2014. TMC 2014 is focused on exploring the possibilities for implementing these new standards.

The official launch takes place tomorrow at 12:30 pm at the CLA Booth in the Exhibition Hall at the CLA conference in Victoria. You can satisfy your curiosity and prepare for discussions at TMC 2014, live and/or virtually by downloading the document from the School Libraries in Canada website.

Many thanks to the Canadian Library Association for supporting the publication of this exciting document.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Digital Literacy: Opportunities in the Learning Commons

In a few short days we will gather in Victoria for TMC 2014. I am very excited to be able to share some work I've been doing on the topic of digital literacy, and I'm hoping that our collaborative brain power can help solve a big problem.

Problem: There is a digital literacy divide. It parallels the general literacy divide, and as resources, government services, commerce and social structures move more and more online, digital literacy is being understood as a critical component of literacy. Digital literacy is not being addressed in a consistent way in education.

A significant body of recent research turns some popular notions about kids' online behaviours and associated knowledge upside down, as summarized in my paper, Myths, Realities and Opportunities: What the Research Says about Digital Literacy.

The myth of the digital native is dead. While our students may have facility with technology, they use it mostly for socializing and entertainment. Creative uses are far less common, as is the use of digital media for civic engagement. Adult concerns about online safety are generally overblown, and much of the behaviours that are sensationally labelled as cyberbullying are more likely online manifestations of "teen drama".

Kids learn what they are motivated to learn, and since the vast majority of use of digital media is for entertainment and socializing, their skills in these areas tend to be more sophisticated. It turns out, too, that our students want to learn more deeply about things like verifying online information, learning about what is legal and not legal to do online, and learning about how companies use personal information. We could help with that!

Educators Lack Confidence

Our students want to learn, but educators often lack the confidence to integrate technology meaningful into learning. This is the problem I'm hoping we can tackle together. Clearly this is a huge opportunity for the learning commons. But seizing that opportunity depends in large part on teacher-librarians' own level of knowledge and confidence with technology for learning. How can we bridge this digital learning divide in our own ranks? There's never been a greater opportunity for leadership from the learning commons. Are we prepared to seize this opportunity? I'm looking forward to delving into this problem with you more deeply at TMC 2014!

Anita Brooks Kirkland

Monday, May 19, 2014

In a week and a half will be Treasure Mountain Canada 2014, our third Canadian research retreat for school libraries! Follow this blog to review the research papers that will be presented and to join in for the live coverage of the retreat, in real time. Feel free to comment on posts, review posts from TMCanada 2010 and 2012 and visit the tabbed link to the TMCanada wiki. 

We will update you with a Twitter feed and shared comments from our school library community as we look forward to the launch of the National Standards for School Libraries document!