The Centennial Middle project will reconfigure the library to create collaborative spaces, instructional spaces, quiet study spaces, flexible meeting spaces, green screen video production room, and a nuclear zone as a focal point for student interaction and collaboration.  The project aligns with three of BVSD's six Innovation Guiding Principles: Learning is a Social Process, Learning Fosters a Culture of Curiosity and Risk Taking, Mastery of Learning is Demonstrated in Multiple Ways 


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Project Description

To develop the school's project, staff worked together to develop responses to the following guiding questions. 

1. Briefly describe the project that you plan to implement with your Innovation Funds.

Centennial Middle School would like to reconfigure the library to create collaborative spaces, instructional spaces, quiet study spaces, flexible meeting spaces, green screen video production room, and a nuclear zone as a focal point for student interaction and collaboration.  The current space has numerous barriers that impede collaboration and flexibility.  The space is divided --cut up with shelving and computer carrels.  This often isolates students in small pockets and also limits teacher access.  Many teachers and students prefer the more open spaces in the library and using Chromebooks for mobile access and flexibility in grouping.  As well, the soft seating at the back of the library is blocked-with no clear line-of-sight.  By opening the library up--and providing flexible spaces, student will be able to collaborate more easily and also have formal presentation areas to share their work.  Also, faculty will have more direct line of sight with students, giving easier access to provide guidance and feedback.  

In addition to innovative improvements to our library space, we plan to implement one change to our cafeteria/outdoor courtyard at the heart of our school.  This courtyard, in particular, has fallen into disrepair primarily due to lack of use.  Our plan is to gather a student and faculty group to study the space and use this opportunity for a student-directed learning project where students will offer design ideas for increased use of this central “hearth” of the school. After initial interviewing of multiple staff members regarding the reasons for the lack of use, a primary concern is that the entrance and access to the space is simply not inviting.  While our school is receiving upgrades and improvements via bond funds, it will be cost-effective to substitute one of the bays of windows, that is slated to be installed, with a large indoor/outdoor overhead garage door.  These doors inspire a new look and more ready access to having students connect with this natural area while at lunch and during class time with classes and as a place to do individual and small group work.  This natural space inside of the school provides a unique learning space that we have interest in bringing back to life both literally and figuratively.  As Richard Louv points out in his bestselling book, The Last Child in the Woods,  “time in nature is not leisure time; it’s an essential investment in our children’s health.”  The addition of this door will go a long way toward inspiring more regular use of this space and bring a sense of innovation and pride back to the center of our school community.  


2. How will you involve stakeholders in the decision-making process concerning the use of the innovation funds for your site?  

All staff were invited to volunteer for the design team meeting and two teachers, one counselor and librarian volunteered.  Staff communicated ideas for the innovation space through feedback.  Three areas originally proposed including cafeteria space, hallway spaces, and the library.  The committee visited three schools who had gone through innovation projects including Summit Middle School, Southern Hills Middle School, and Boulder High.  The committee met to discuss greatest impact/access provided for all students and decided to propose library.  The library proposal was communicated to all staff via a presentation/Q&A during an all staff faculty meeting.  Also, two lunchtime breakout meetings were held so staff could come with more questions and feedback.  An update on the innovation space was shared with the PTO on April 18, 2017.  Also, a shared google folder including meeting minutes and presentations was shared with all staff and PTO.

3. How does your project support The Success Effect? (BVSD's Strategic Plan-Mission/Vision/Goals)

The stated mission of Boulder Valley School district is, “to create challenging, meaningful and engaging learning opportunities so that all children thrive and are prepared for successful, civically engaged lives.”  A space facilitates learning, fostering opportunities for discovery and collaboration.  As architect Wyck Knox stated in a 2017 NEA article, “Each learning space should be allowed the opportunity to be something greater than its box. Creativity is showcased in spaces that are joyful, bright, and honor the learner and educator.”  Reconfiguring the library space brings more flexibility in learning, honors the varied learning styles, and prepares students for the challenges of the workplace of today and the future. Student-led design efforts for our courtyard will provide for a relevant and meaningful learning opportunity that will engage learners in a real life, real time, project that they will lead from inception to completion in their tenure here at Centennial.  Being a true “place-based” service-oriented project, students will see how their learning can make a difference for generations to come. 

4. Review the Innovation Guiding Principles and discuss with your stakeholders. How will your project align to one or more of the guiding principles?


The project closely aligns to the following Innovation Guideline Principles:

Learning fosters a culture of curiosity and risk taking
“The important thing is to not stop questioning.  Curiosity has its own reason for existing” -- Albert Einstein.

The redesign provides brainstorming spaces (writeable surfaces), flexible smaller and larger group collaboration spaces, spaces for exploration of Centennial’s growing collection of mobile maker kits, and multiple presentation zones.  The library will be improved,  supporting a culture of curiosity.  

Mastery of learning is demonstrated in multiple ways
The library proposal includes reconfiguring the space for small groups, technology bars, an addition of a green screen video production room, and the integration of a larger group space allowing presentations and access to connected distance learning.  Students will demonstrate their learning in various ways, both through technology and also without technology.  Also, students can receive feedback from peers and teachers utilizing these different spaces.
  
Learning is a social process
One of the focal areas of the remodel is the nuclear zone in the back of the library.  This space will be configured to promote social interaction and collaboration.  Multiple spaces will be created allowing for up to three classes to use the space in different ways.  Flexibility is one of the key components of library redesign.  Furniture will be movable and easily reconfigured.  Also, space will be created for faculty meetings as well.  Also by opening up the space, line of sight will be improved throughout.

5. Determine what your learning outcomes are for your innovation. What will happen as a result of this innovation?

Students
  • Apply what they are learning in class to inspire curiosity and pose questions about their world(1f)
  • Work respectfully, collaboratively, and effectively to meet instructional objectives (3f)
  • Use technology to apply team building and networking skills (3d)
  • Will gather stakeholders, survey the needs, propose designs and improve on the outdoor courtyard at the heart of our school
Teachers
  • Allows for a lesson structure with different pathways to learning outcomes according to student needs (3b)
  • Applies new and different ways of teaching new skills and evaluates their impact on student’s learning (4b)
  • Have access to an outdoor learning space for various course offerings using this natural area as an inspiration for coursework from art to math to poetry. 

6. Determine how you will measure the progress towards and achievement of your learning outcome. What is your plan for gathering data to show that the change is positively impacting learning at your site?

We plan to use both quantitative and qualitative methods for data collection.

Quantitative Measures
  • Track information library usage and what activities/lessons are being taught in the library via student surveys, and digital library sign-out.
  • Gathering of student-created inquiry projects including questions posed and products created.  Projects will be displayed in library common space and through digital screens throughout the library.
  • Tracking mobile maker kit usage via check out and observations.
  • Create a digital collaborative repository for activities/lessons/ideas using the space generated by the librarian and teachers.
  • Track and document increased use of the outdoor space 

Qualitative Measures
  • Surveys administered to students and staff (face to face and/or digitally) on favorite areas of the new space and how space can be improved
  • Teacher and librarian observation of a shift in student behaviors/interactions pre and post reconfiguration of the space.
  • Student advisory committee who worked on design and implementation of the renewed outdoor space will survey teachers and students as to the effectiveness of the improvements.  

7. What professional learning and support might your staff might need in order to reach the desired learning outcomes for the space?

Professional development tied to strategies in using new spaces and a short overview of the theory behind the use of space i.e. Share successful lesson plans and/or projects utilizing new spaces in other sites.

Staff created professional development on how teachers are using the new configurations in lesson design and implementation.

Professional development regarding the benefits of connecting young people and their academic pursuits to natural spaces will be provided to inspire use of the improved courtyard and other outdoor spaces around the school.  


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