The Learning Commons

Teston Village Public School

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Welcome Back!

I hope you've had a great summer and I'm looking forward to collaborating with you throughout the year!

A Vision for the Learning Commons

The Ontario Library Association's Together for Learning document lists the following key components of the Learning Commons:

  • A physical and virtual space: I'll be building out the virtual space for our Library/Learning commons at On the right side of the page, you can sign up to receive updates by email when I update the main page of the site. There are also sections for teachers and students and MUCH more to come. As a side note, if anyone wants to host a class blog (one of my favourite tools ever) with a address, just let me know and I can help you get set up.
  • Equitable Access: Equity of access to excellent reading and resourses for all of our students and educators is important to me and I will strive to do my best to make sure that I am meeting the needs of all students. If you have students with specific needs, or think that the way I've currently set the library up is preventing physical access for some students, please let me know, so that we can make it work for them.
  • Learning Partnerships: If there is an idea that I am excited about, it is collaboration. I tend to think of collaboration in a broad and inclusive sense, and with less regard to the traditional roles in education. This means that I value collaboration between student and students, students and teachers, teachers and teachers, teachers and administrators, school members and the community . . . well, you get the idea. Partnerships don't need to occur just in the Library space, I'm more than happy to come work in your classroom, or help you partner virtually with someone around the world.
  • Technology in Learning (Note: see the Google Geek section below): Technology, when used correctly, can inspire and connect teachers and students, and open up new ways of learning and sharing learning that can be more efficient, effective and engaging. When used improperly, the effects can range from distraction to traumas from online bullying. Over the last three years, I saw that many teachers were unsure of how to integrate technology and social media tools into their practice and were afraid of making mistakes or breaking the computer or tool they were using. The good news is that the tools are a lot harder to break than they used to be and I can help you with selecting one or two tools that will help you accomplish your goals with your students. Once you have those under your belt, we can add a couple more.

About Me

Some of you will know that I was previously the Digital Literacy Resource Teacher for CEC West. In this role I supported all of the elementary schools in CEC West in the areas of Digital Literacy and Technology Integration. I loved collaborating with teachers and students across the system and the the opportunity to form partnerships and work together was one of the reasons I pursued a teacher-librarian position when returning to a school.

I've been with the YRDSB for 11 years, working primarily in the Junior and Intermediate divisions and spent my first two years teaching grade 9 math and science in the Inuit community of Arviat, Nunavut on the west coast of Hudson Bay. I grew up in South Porcupine, ON, and now live in Alliston, with my wife and two kids. As you can see from the photo, I am trying to keep the backyard rink tradition that we had in South Porcupine alive, but it's a lot tougher down here.

I would call myself an avid reader, but the last couple of years haven't left a lot of room for reading for enjoyment or reading books for students. I'm trying to work my way through an M.Ed., though I'm taking a break from my course work as I get started here at Teston Village. If there are books you're looking for to add to our library collection, please let me know and I'll do my best to try and find the books you (and your students) want.

Google Geek

Let's put it out there. I'm a Google for Education geek! I'm a long time user of Google Apps in the classroom and pretty passionate about the way they can support educators and learners. That doesn't mean that I think Google is the only way to go, or that there aren't better tools out there for some jobs. However, because Google's tools work on all platforms (Mac, PC, Linux, iOS and Android), are free to all educational institutions, provide new ways to collaborate in real time, specifically make it easier for students to make use of effective feedback, and are committed to protecting students' privacy (among other reasons), it makes a lot of sense to me to make use of these tools. I've taught an ETFO summer academy course introducing Google Apps for the past two years, and run hundreds of workshops. If you have questions or are wondering just what all of this stuff is and how it might benefit your or your students, let me know. Once our labour situation is back on track, I'll offer some formalized professional learning sessions for anyone who would like to take part, but until then, if you have a question, or want a bit of help getting started with Google Classroom, Drive/Docs or Forms, come and see me.

If your technology issue isn't a Google one, I'm not a one trick pony and have worked with a wide variety of "GREEN" (YRDSB/Ministry/OSAPAC) and "RED" tools over the years and would love to help you and your students.

International Dot Day

Tuesday, Sep. 15th, 8:30am

80 Murray Farm Ln


International Dot Day is September 15-ish according to the official website. We have at least one copy of The Dot in the library, and you can also find it in the Tumblebook library of one of the municipal public libraries (check the Teachers page on the Learning Commons site for links). You can also find an animated read aloud version on YouTube. If you are looking for resources or ideas, you can visit the official website or check out the Dot Day Handbook (PDF).

The Global Read Aloud

Monday, Oct. 5th, 8:30am to Friday, Nov. 13th, 11pm

80 Murray Farm Ln


If International Dot Day is a little too soon for your liking, think about participating in the Global Read Aloud. I'm going to try and ensure we have copies of all of the books, and I'll provide more information on this event and how we might participate soon.
What is the Global Read Aloud?

The Learning Commons Space and Me

Using the Learning Commons/Library Space

How we use and book the Library and Learning Commons space may evolve a little bit through the year as we learn what works best to serve the greatest number of students and teachers. Please keep that in mind and talk to me if you feel you have a need that is not being addressed. I will provide all teachers instruction with how to use the Circulation Computer to sign out books and ensure there are instructions accessible near the computer.

One thing to keep in mind about the more open schedule I'm proposing is that it will allow for more consistent use of the library. In my experience, when students (and some teachers) are working on a project once a week for a 40 minute block, the excitement and engagement quickly wears off. I'd rather have you book a period or two in the Learning Commons for a few days in a row, then take a break from the Learning Commons for a couple of weeks while I work with other classes. I think this will be more effective and engaging. I will be trying to keep the Learning Commons open for book exchange while I am partnering with other classes in that space.

Regularly Scheduled Classes

  • Kindergarten, Grade 1, and the classes in the portable will have regularly scheduled book exchange periods in the library.
  • Other classes may book a period (with or without me) if the library is available.
  • The library schedule of availability will be shared shortly.

Book Exchange

  • May only be done with a teacher in the library

  • Schedule of times when Scott will be in the Library to facilitate book exchange will be posted

    • Send students in groups of no more than 3

  • Teachers can sign books in and out (tutorial videos to come)

  • If you are unable to sign books in or out, students may use new sticky notes (left) to indicate the book(s) they would like.

The Learning Commons Space

The Learning Commons space has several work areas that can be used for a variety of group work activities. You can book this for your class (with me or without). The calendar of availability and a booking system will be shared soon.

Me - Scott - Teacher Librarian

I'm not tied to the Library/Learning Commons space. I would love to get into classrooms that have windows to the outside world! That's why I've kept the Learning Commons space bookings separate from my own timetable. I've spent the last three and a half years collaborating with teachers and helping them effectively integrate technology into their practice (and it was a big part of my role before - even when I had a homeroom). PLEASE feel free to book me, ask me to meet on your prep/my prep, etc. I think that my role within the school is a service role, and I'm doing my job when I help you and your students feel successful. When it comes to technology, don't worry if you think that you have stupid questions or don't know where to begin. I've worked with hundreds (thousands?) of teachers and am very patient (some of you can already attest to that). Again, I'll have my schedule and booking system posted soon.

Wow - that's enough

Probably a little too much for the first go around, but I'm so excited and with no staff meetings for formal introductions or sharing, it's a little tough to express what I'm hoping we can accomplish together.

I hope you all have a great first week - and feel free to wander into the library and take advantage of the air conditioning any time you need to.


Scott Monahan

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