Transforming the Library in Concept and in Space: FuturePLAY at Grandview Elementary
With the Internet as part of our lives, students and teachers no longer need a library to access critical information. That doesn’t mean school libraries have become irrelevant. When school libraries are thriving, student achievement and literacy scores advance significantly.
Grandview Elementary’s library has transformed from an archive of information and books into a vibrant “learning commons,” where students gather to learn to use tools and materials, both physical and virtual and develop creative projects of academic and personal interests. Reflecting the values of equity, diversity, and cultural identity (68% of the student population self-declared Indigenous), this project started with the support of Principal Risha Golby and FuturePLAY, a Vancouver School Board initiative aiming to foster STEAM literacy in Elementary Schools, particularly with underserved populations such as Indigenous, female, and English Language Learning students.
The library needed a fresh start. The objective was to offer a “hub” for the school, a welcoming space that could be easily transformed into what the students and school needed. Class prep work is done in the library and serves as the groundwork that facilitates student success. Some foundational topics are learning about all resources available, how to be safe online, and how to create a digital footprint students can be proud of. To ensure that the existing library served as a supportive platform for the students’ vibrant enthusiasm for this new initiative of learning, it was going to take more than just a fresh coat of paint.
To achieve transformation, replacing the traditional carpeted space and standard seating was imperative. The school turned a section of the library into a makerspace, composed of portable markerboard adjustable tables, soft and active seating, a t-slot wall, wheeled multipurpose storage units, and tiled flooring. The library also received new tablets, laptops, a portable cart, and quality maker space supplies chosen by the teacher champions. The fresh new look offers the makers at Grandview an open-ended exploration of a variety of activities, such as building a rocket launcher, coding with music, design thinking projects with robotics, and building a multicultural Christmas village.
Apart from the makerspace, the school allocated new bookshelves and a 96” Medicine-Wheel Ottoman-style. In honoring the traditions and colours of the Indigenous Peoples, the school was clear that bringing the concept of the circle, a common motif in Indigenous art and culture as well as the natural environment, help to the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge into the curriculum.
The results of one year of hard work and commitment is a barrier-free, flexible space for learning, innovation, and belonging.
As Robyn (Teacher Librarian), said “Some students have mentioned they want to live here, they just love the new space! Others ask me 2-3 times a week when we are doing the next makerspace activity.” Even more so than before the library has become a place where students are eager to go. “The space, materials, and technology have provided a place where many of the students can really shine. It provides them access to things they may not otherwise have had access to in a traditional classroom. Whether it’s designing, building, or incorporating technology and coding, they love the hands-on aspect of the learning. Through the makerspace activities, they are experiencing a key lesson that even though things may not work out the way they wanted it to, it’s okay and part of the learning process itself. It has allowed them to take more risks in their learning.”
FuturePLAY wants to thank all Staff and Administrators at Grandview Elementary, VSB Trades, BBTV, Telus and 3x9 Planning and Designing for all the support with this project.