Oskaloosa.com

May 8, 2013

'Learning commons' changes possible for OHS library

By ANDY GOODELL
The Oskaloosa Herald

OSKALOOSA — She'd like to see this library transformed into a “learning commons.”

Patricia ErkenBrack, Oskaloosa High School/Middle School librarian, said what the library is interested in doing is possibly moving some of the bookshelves in order to open up some additional space in the library. This space would better serve groups of students working on collaborative projects, for example.

That's not all.

ErkenBrack said adding comfortable furniture is also on the horizon. For now, there are a few comfortable chairs for students, which ErkenBrack said students seem to like.

ErkenBrack provided the Herald with a listing of things that could possibly happen for the school's library including:

“• Classroom space with interactive whiteboard for teaching, for student presentations, for guest speakers, brown bag lunch and learn opportunities

• Multimedia area for student project creation/quiet listening area

•Table/soft seating space for small group collaboration

• Reading area

• Game area for puzzles, chess, and other educational board games

• A flexible design and furnishings that allow the option of expanding or contracting the various zones”

The area designated for puzzles now is particularly popular, ErkenBrack said.

“They really enjoy that,” said ErkenBrack. “So, I'd like to expand that area — get a couple of chess games, maybe a few other word games.”

The problem-based learning students are being taught comes with a student presentation element, explained ErkenBrack. An interactive white board in the library would provide a “great forum” for students, she said. An interactive white board is a digital projector with whiteboard capability, said ErkenBrack.

“You can create all kinds of documents that you can interact with digitally,” she said.

She said keeping in mind the school's 1 to 1 computer environment is also important when making possible changes to the library.

Utilizing both traditional and new elements in the library is key, according to ErkenBrack. She said printed items are often valuable for student research. These kinds of changes are also taking place in many other K-12 school districts, noted ErkenBrack.

On May 15, a fund raising event is scheduled for 4:45 to 6:45 p.m. at Penn Central Mall. OHS, in a partnership with Hy-Vee, will hold a spaghetti supper there with tickets costing $5. A spaghetti eating contest complete with local celebrities will be held just before serving time. Those attending can choose to dine in or carry out their meal.

Tickets can be purchased in the Hy-Vee lobby May 10 from 4 to 6 p.m. and May 11 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the OHS library during the school day, as well as at the event itself.

ErkenBrack said she's also looking into possible grant funding to further the “learning commons” effort at the school's library.

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Herald City Editor Andy Goodell can be reached at news2@oskyherald.com.