Create opportunities for project-based learning experiences that incorporate connections that flatten the walls of the classroom.
In my mission statement, I write that I hope to “[Create] authentic experiences that foster a sense of joy for learning” and in the 21st century classroom, one way to make that happen is to encourage project-based learning. Melissa Jacobs-Israel, School Library Journal contributor describes project-based learning as an opportunity where “[students] are learning how to develop intriguing questions for further discovery and research, investigate a topic, construct new meanings, develop opinions and supporting arguments, apply new understandings, create final products, and reflect on what they learned” (Jacobs-Israel, 2013). There could be no better place for this to occur, than in the library. In fact, journalist Suzie Boss argues that librarians should be at the forefront of project-based learning experiences in their school: “A key player to invite into these collaborative conversations is the school librarian or library media specialist. Their understanding of information literacy and digital citizenship can make a difference across the arc of projects. What’s more, librarians may know about students’ out-of-class interests through their reading choices or online interests” (Boss, 2013).
Through project-based learning, students are provided with authentic experiences that flatten the walls of the classroom. Librarian, author and speaker, Vicki Davis describes a flat classroom as one where “[y]ou remove the walls. You connect students to others around the world” (Davis, 2013). Students go from performing for one teacher for the sake of one grade, to having a broad audience that will review and interact with their work. The students become equal parts creator and consumer, driving the stakes of their work that much higher. In my position as co-teacher, curator, research leader and technology cheerleader, I can provide students with the opportunity to deepen their level of understanding, connect across content areas, flatten classroom walls and develop a joyful sense of discovery.
Boss, S. (2013, October 28). Are school librarians part of your PBL dream team? Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/school-librarians-part-pbl-team-dream-suzie-boss
Davis, V. (2013, March 4). What does it mean to flatten your classroom? Retrieved November 22, 2014, from http://www.coolcatteacher.com/what-does-it-mean-to-flatten-your-classroom/
Jacobs-Israel, M. (2013, January 3). One librarian’s success story: on common core. School Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.slj.com/2013/01/opinion/on-common-core/one-librarians-success-story-christine-poser-is-helping-her-school-move-on-ccss-on-common-core/#_
Todd, B. (2014, November 8). The beginnings of a living, breathing mission statement. Retrieved November 9, 2014, from http://beckytoddlibrarian.org/the-beginnings-of-a-living-breathing-mission-statement/