The Learning Commons in Yavneh Academy is now part of the STEMZONE/technology department. The Learning Commons is the library/media center of Yavneh Academy, but it encompasses much more than a traditional library. Books and reading remain the focal point of the Learning Commons. Students were given Yavneh Academy library cards and taught how to check books in and out themselves. This allowed for greater independence and resulted in increased usage of the library as students “drop in” to find something to read. Students have been given a venue in which to suggest books that appeal to them, and the book collection is being expanded to reflect the students’ interests.
Although there is an open door policy for upper grade students, grades Pre-k through two continue to have weekly scheduled visits. Class visits to the Learning Commons have become more interactive and far-reaching. For example, at the start of the year, students participated in The Global Read Aloud, a world-wide initiative in which students throughout the world read the same books. Participating classes then connected with students from other schools throughout the US and Canada to share their impressions and ideas about these books using technology such as Skyping, Seesaw (an online eportfolio platform), Padlet (a digital bulletin board), and Flipgrid (a video discussion platform), and low-tech methods such as a postcard exchange.
Coding, programming and engineering has become an integral part of The Learning Commons. These disciplines are integrated into the grade level curriculum in order to enhance student engagement and learning, and provide students with a hands-on approach to demonstrate their knowledge. Students were introduced to foundational coding concepts through the use of robotics beginning in kindergarten. They learn to test and debug their algorithms.
Additionally, author studies are incorporated into the Learning Commons curriculum. Several well-known childrens’ authors such as Mo Willems, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Cynthia Rylant, and Kevin Henkes are explored.
The Learning Commons continues to be a work in progress, and will evolve to reflect student needs. The Learning Commons’ mission is to foster and support the reading habits and curiosities of students and teachers, to collaborate with classroom teachers to amplify curriculum and support student achievement, to empower student voice, and to build a foundation for lifelong learning.