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My Library Learning Commons

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PE in the Library

Question: How does a PE teacher teach when the gym is closed for a pod show, the drama room is full of woodworking tools, and it's pouring rain outside?

Answer: Turn the library learning commons into an arena!

I am supremely blessed to have an administrator that understands the need for the library learning commons to be a flexible space for learning. Aussie Gal supports me 100% in adding casters to shelves, buying light and modular seating, and finding tables with wheels.

When everything can be rolled easily to one side of the library on a moment's notice, spontaneous learning can take place... even a PE class!

*Knuckleball: A version of Gaga ball.  Players are out of the game when they are hit on the legs by a foam ball. The ball must be hit with a closed fist. 

**The ball generally stays low enough to the ground that it rarely hits anything in the library.

Our New Slat Wall

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Tip #1: Screws can go through plexiglass.

The head of maintenance inspected the wall and gave the okay for the carpenter to affix the slat board directly onto the plexiglass.


It worked!


Unfortunately, there isn't enough money in the budget to buy brackets and new shelving for the slat wall. So, we will wait until next year.


Until then, we put up beautiful jungle-themed artwork over it (graciously loaned to us from Lady D's family).

My library shares a wall with the resource room. On that wall was a weird cork board section. It wobbled a bit and nothing heavy could be hung on it. 
Upon closer inspection, we figured out that a plexiglass window was hidden under the cork board.
Another school down the road offered to trade a slat board for one of our rolling shelves.

​More wall shelving?
Yes, please!

Of course, I picked the most difficult place to put the new slat board: over the weird plexiglass/cork board wall.

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New Bookends!

I inherited an assortment of bookends when I took over Blacklock Library.

Red, Blue. Baby blue.

You get the idea.


Seven years later, our Monday woodworking resource teacher, Mr. Fix-it, came up with a solution. He and his students made me wooden bookends. Each student constructed a simple bookend and wrote their initials on one side by hammering nails in the shape of letters. 


​I just love them!

Meet Ebony, Onyx, and Soot

The 2019 - 2020 school year began with four new additions to our library learning commons at Blacklock Fine Arts Elementary.


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Three black sister gerbils have come to stay and are being lovingly handled almost every day by devoted Grade 4 and 5 students at lunch and recess. I have never had gerbils so young before and I enjoy seeing the difference early socialization makes in the girls' temperaments.

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Meet Rango

After the passing of Waldo, one of the Blacklock families generously made a donation towards purchasing a new chameleon for the library. After a lot of searching, I found an amazing breeder, Monika, owner of Chameleons Galore, Victoria, BC. On September 15th, my husband and I eagerly met Monika at a reptile show in Abbotsford, BC and we left with a two-month old male panther chameleon.  

Rango is steadily gaining weight and enjoys eating crickets and fruit fly larvae.

Like his gerbil sisters, Rango is handled almost every day (usually by the staff) and he is becoming very tame and agreeable around people. In a year, he should get his adult colours and he'll be red and yellow.

Welcome to the Blacklock family, Rango!

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Good-bye, Waldo!

Last spring, we saw the passing of  Waldo, the veiled chameleon. We only had Waldo for less than a year in the library, but he spent his last months loved by many adoring fans.

Waldo was the source of inspiration for many pieces of artwork and lessons about reptiles/chameleons. His peacefulness calmed many an anxious heart, and he taught the community to love and protect his species and other reptiles too!

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The Grade 5 class learned about letter writing in the winter because they sent him letters during his "vacation". He was actually at my house because the school was too cold at night. I joked with the students that Waldo was visiting his family in a far away place. The Kindergarten and Grade 1 students believed me, so I had Waldo send postcards with clues to where he was vacationing. It turns out he was in Egypt.

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Death is hard, but it's a part of life. There were tears, a lot of tears, when Waldo passed. His cage was adorned with drawings and cards. It was hard to see the black cloth draped over his cage every time I entered and exited the library doors. 

A pair of  brothers brought in a beautiful wooden box to bury Waldo in and they helped me dig a grave near the bog just outside of the school fence. The ground was hard from lack of rain, but the boys tirelessly dug the hole deep enough to protect Waldo from hungry predators. 

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I had hoped for a quiet burial, but the recess bell rang and the school rushed to the fence to watch us.

The youngest brother tenderly walked Waldo's body along the fence as children whispered good-byes and tears were shed. A dear colleague gave the boys seeds to plant to mark Waldo's grave in the summer time. Beautiful red and purple flowers bloomed in July.

Death lost a little bit of its sting that day as a school came together in compassion and love.

Waldo the Veiled Chameleon
May 2019

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Wheels, Wheels, & More Wheels

Flexible Learning Spaces!

Over the last three years, I have slowly upgraded the furniture of the library.

Now, most of the furniture rolls!

The new couch is super light and breaks apart to form multiple seating formations. (Even the Kindergarten students can move the couch modules.)

The shelf, that houses the paperback bins, now has wheels and I can increase and decrease the reading corner easily depending on the size of my classes.

The Lego Wall and Makerspace Shelf roll as do the "new-to-me" tear drop tables from Evergreen Office Spaces Limited in Delta, BC. Ask for Brent Green. He has a wonderful selection of used furniture! My tables originally came from Simon Fraser University and with a little bit of spray paint on the bases, they look as good as new!

I'm still working on getting the main stacks on wheels, but until then, my library is truly becoming a flexible learning commons hub!

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