Grant: Social Learning Area

21st Century School Library: Social Learning Area! I wrote 6 grants in 2016, and I will be sharing each grant with you in entirety. Please peruse the grant below and feel free to adapt any information that you may find useful.

21st Century School Library: Social Learning Area

Brief Project Summary 

Social learning areas are designed to promote student interaction by offering an informal and relaxing environment for students to develop interpersonal, academic, and problem-solving skills through collaboration utilizing the mobile devices that are always in their hands.

Purpose (statement of what grant project will do and accomplish) 

The demand for social-academic spaces is rising.

As adults we may recall that as students we visited the library to access printed references and collections, or for a quiet place to read and study. This is hardly the scene in libraries across the country today. Yes, libraries are areas for reflective solitary study and valuable collections, but more and more libraries have embraced and are designed for collaborative study, socializing, and access to various technologies and media. These libraries are dynamic, active, plugged in, and are redefining what a library is.

A library should be a place for exchanging ideas and information, not just finding them. A library should be the technology, social, and research hub of a campus.

The purpose of this grant project is to create a social learning area within the library where students develop interpersonal, academic, and problem-solving skills through collaboration while exploring new ways of learning. This combination is considered by leading educators to provide a richer and more dynamic learning experience for the students – an experience that has many parallels in today’s workplaces.

In creating this social learning area within the library, it must be noted that collaborative learning does not come naturally for most students. To truly prepare students for college and careers, we must equip students with 21st Century learning tools. This includes the ability to comfortably collaborate with others as well as using technology. If taught well, students can enjoy the benefits of collaboration, believe in it, practice it, and carry it into their futures. This grant project will also allow us to teach our students how to collaborate in the 21st Century.

SMART Objective (list the goals you intend to accomplish with this project and how you will measure these objectives to determine the impact of the project)

In order to improve student collaboration skills and prepare students for collaborative environments in the collegiate and workplace environments, the Educational Technology Specialist and Librarian will hold weekly teenage-friendly, interactive collaborative activities in the social learning area during lunch that engage students in developing and practicing effective interpersonal skills.

Students will use the social learning area for impromptu meetings, group study sessions, and/or group projects assigned by teachers.

Project Description (specifically, how will your project improve, advance or enrich student learning? How does this project support the district’s mission and/or your campus plan? Include research as support for why you want to implement this project. Be sure to include strategies to achieve the goals and objectives listed and research to support why you choose to use this plan of action over another)

The requested Solstice Pod Unlimited enables multiple users to simultaneously share media to a display (InFocus JTouch 65″ Interactive Whiteboard with Anti-Glare) using their laptops and mobile devices improving collaboration.

Paul Curtis, an advocate for education reform, states that “one of the most valued skills employers are looking for in an employee is the ability to collaborate – to be part of a product, efficient team that gets the job done.” Cornell University’s Center for Teaching Excellence would agree. It includes “preparation for real life social and employment situations” as one of the top benefits of collaborative learning. In fact, research shows that educational experiences (such as collaborative learning) that are active, social, contextual, engaging, and student-owned lead to deeper thinking.

Many researchers recommend providing explicit instruction in collaboration skills adjusted to grade levels. The Librarian and Educational Technology Specialist will host interactive, collaborative activities relevant to teenage interests so that students can utilize the area to exercise creative leadership, teamwork, and negotiation skills through the intellectual exchange of ideas, brainstorming, and problem-solving. Through these activities, students will learn effective interpersonal skills such as learning to how to listen, paraphrasing and asking questions, taking turns, giving constructive feedback to each other, keeping an open mind, and acting in a trustworthy manner.

In addition, the social learning area will serve as an impromptu meeting place for exchanging ideas, a quick study hall, and/or small group collaboration center when interactive, collaborative activities are not in session.

This grant project aligns with objectives set by the Texas State Board of Education:

OBJECTIVE 9: Technology will be implemented and used to increase the effectiveness of student learning, instructional management, staff development, and administration.

This grant project also aligns with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Technology Applications. The technology applications curriculum has six strands based on the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS•S) and performance indicators developed by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE): creativity and innovation; communication and collaboration; research and information fluency; critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making; digital citizenship; and technology operations and concepts.

Project Evaluation (explain how you will measure the success of this project. How do you plan to share the results with your campus, district and Education Foundation?)

The success of this project will be evaluated by the number of students that participate in the weekly teenage-friendly, interactive collaborative activities as well as the number of students that use social learning area for impromptu meetings, group study sessions, and/or group projects assigned by teachers. In addition, participants will provide feedback after each use of the social learning area about what they liked and did not like as well as what they would like to see in the future or how the space can be improved.

Campus teachers and administrators will be offered opportunities to reserve the space afterschool for team collaboration.

The district’s Education Foundation will be invited to see the interactive collaborative activities live in action.

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