Here’s something you will never hear said inside the new media center at Falcon Cove Middle School in Weston: "Shhh, you’re in the library!"
Instead, there’s a buzz in the room, and that’s just what the principal wanted when he and his team redesigned the library. They call it The Nest, and it just might shatter your preconceptions of what a school library can be.
"What we have here in The Nest is an area where kids can congregate and the number one thing we want them to be talking about is learning," said Dr. Mark Kaplan, Falcon Cove’s principal. “We believe that if students are in here interacting with each other, they’re going to talk about the work that they have."
With input from students and teachers, Kaplan and his team re-imagined the library as a place where students can collaborate and share ideas at work stations designed for group brainstorming. The days of using the media center only for solitary studying are long gone.
"The library is not the shush place, you’re not gonna get shushed here, but we do want students working on their group projects and assignments, but when you collaborate, there’s noise, when you talk and you critically think, challenge each other, there’s gonna be noise,” said Stacey Farmer, the media specialist, which we used to call the “librarian.”
Technology is all over the place inside The Nest. Students can check out laptop computers or iPads to work in groups or alone. The work stations have big monitors that allow kids to show each other what’s on their personal screens. Kids love it, and so do their parents.
“I do think it’s awesome, it really is, it looks very modern, it’s appealing for the kids, so I think it’s gonna be a huge success,” said Adriana Ashley, one of several parents who were touring The Nest when we were there.
Dr. Kaplan says it’s like a Starbucks without the coffee, a place that naturally fosters conversation.
"Students that interact with each other tend to learn more from each other and that’s really what we want them to do is interact,” Kaplan said.
The teachers say it’s easier to encourage creativity and critical thinking in this hip, cool environment and that’s why they think this model should be copied by other schools.
“This is crazy, this is so crazy and amazing and wonderful,” Farmer said, obviously enthused by her new workplace.
Did we mention books? Yes, The Nest still has books, and students are encouraged to check them out and read. However, Dr. Kaplan knows the reality is that today’s students love technology, so he’s using it to improve the learning environment.
When his students leave The Nest, they’ll be ready to fly on their own to high school.