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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Leveling the Playing Field

The transformation from library to Learning Commons has been a challenging, exciting, difficult, worth-while, and an amazing experience. Seeing students utilizing the once quiet space for learning, collaborating, and lots of risk-turned-failure-turned-knowledge has been very worth the time and energy spent.

Yesterday I was walking by and noticed dozens of students working on things like Lego Robotics, Makey-Markey, Play Ozmo, Chrome Books, and Cardboard Creations in the Learning Commons and it hit me...we have finally found a way to level the playing field.

One of the most challenging things we deal with as a Title 1 school is the lack of background knowledge and experiences our students come in with. We spend so much time talking today on blogs and Twitter, about how we are living in a digital world, that students come to us hard-wired to use and understand technology. But guess what? Many of my students have not experienced the many technological advances that are often assumed to be the new norm. Computers, smart-phones, even prior history.

So as I walked by the learning Commons, and stopped to see learning in action, I was blown away to see that a design challenge could be completed, could be a learning experience, could open the door to collaboration for ALL kids. It didn't matter what a child had at home, or what he/she had experienced before…creating the largest machine that could transport a golf ball three feet is challenging for all, and every student has something valuable to share.

In the Learning Commons it doesn't matter how much money you have, where you come from, what technology you own, how many parents you have, what you did or didn’t get for dinner...all that matters if the great brain you bring to school each day is filled with great ideas you are ready to share. Everyone takes risk; everyone learns from failure, everyone gets the same great experience.

In essence, the playing field is equalized, and everyone is welcome to play.

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