Marlborough LC

My name is Steve Clark and I'm the Learning Commons teacher at Marlborough School. A Calgary Board of Education school in Calgary's Northeast. We have been working on developing our Learning Commons to varying degrees over a 3 year period.

Our Transformation
Our library was designed and built as the hub of the school building. It is exactly in the middle of the school. Every classroom has easy access to the space. The library has never been a dark storage space and there is a lot of natural light in the above atrium. It is almost seems like a perfectly designed space for a learning commons.
Our library tech has always been pretty good at weeding out old books so we did not have to have a major 'weeding out' session. We added computers to our learning space, moved some furniture around and generally just opened the space up more. The biggest change and most costly change for us was putting casters on about 10 of our book shelves, making them easier to move around. We also removed any tall shelves and replaced them with lower ones to make them more student-friendly. We are still making minor adjustments to shelving as we move forward and we also encourage our students to move things around to suit their needs. Funnily enough, we have so much room the only things that really get moved around are the chairs and tables.

This is one of our old shelves with new casters on it. It was relatively expensive exercise but much cheaper than replacing them with solid wood furniture. We also like the retro feel too :)

Our People

Our learning commons team, up until this year, has consisted of a learning commons teacher (or 2), a library tech, our principal and assistant principal. All decisions in the learning commons have been managed by one or all of these people.

This year we are taking it to a different level. We had a number of demographic changes this year and lost almost half the students in our building. Along with those changes, we wanted to change the way we organise and run our learning commons. We hope to extend the LC team to all staff in our building. Our first goal in order to do that is to help everyone understand what the philosophy of the learning commons is so we are all on the same page and understand the concept to a deeper level.

Our Philosophy

Since the beginning of our transformation, we have taken an organic approach to running our learning commons. We have found this to work well, although it took a long time for the concept to stick. Last year we had two non-classroom based Learning Leaders to support learning in our school. We were often found working in the learning commons with small or large groups of students. Teachers who were interested in utilising the learning commons space also used it at their own discretion. We focused on working with those teachers who were interested in working with us and focusing on inquiry and project based learning.

Because of our unstructured approach, the learning commons has at times been 'humming' with up to three classes using the space and then at other times it is empty. One development we are working on this year is adding more structure to the learning commons so that more students will have the chance to work in the space and use the resources that are available to them. Adding more structure would mean there will be more teacher support in the learning commons due to classrooms being supervised and supported by at least one teacher at all times.

Our Changes for the Year

The biggest change for us this year is the loss of approximately 200 students which almost halved out population. This would mean our learning community would come a lot closer together and also we would be able condense resources and reorganise how technology is deployed.

At this point we have been able to keep the learning commons teacher in place, which in a small school is a huge commitment due to smaller budget. This means that we can continue to engage our students with that added support.

The physical space has not changed too much other than a few newer tables from classrooms. We have also added more computers from vacated classrooms as well as boosting numbers of computers  in the remaining classrooms. We also added a second laptop cart. Also, our recently purchased cart of iPads will help reach our learners in new and exciting ways.

We look forward to sharing our learning as well as our further developments we move through the year. Please join us in this celebration of learning.

Steve Clark
Marlborough School Learning Commons

Twitter ~ @stevewclark
My Professional Blog ~

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Steve for going into detail how you have created a Learning Commons approach. You have answered many of my questions :)