2015 Learning Ninja

Dr. Todd Keruskin

Elizabeth Forward School District
2015 Winner for Learning Ninja Award
About Learning Ninja Award

Expands the concept of the library and/or the role of the librarian or media specialist to harness the vast resources of the internet to support teachers and students.

Provide an overview of the project, practice or product that your video represents, and how your work encompasses the principles and ideals of the award that you're applying for.

In 2012, EFHS's library was hardly ever used by students, except for English classes conducting research. The EFHS library had 600 dictionaries, encyclopedias from 1980s and old computers that were salvaged from classrooms. The EFSD partnered with Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) for last five years and we found out the ETC worked with Chicago's Public Library to create a teen center within the library, called the YOUMedia Center. We took a team of administrators to visit the YOUmedia Center and we started to transform EFHS's library into a 21st Century learning space called the EFmedia Center! Over the last three years, EFHS has worked with Bena Kallick to create complex projects within all subjects and grade levels. The EFMedia Center promotes project-based learning and teachers are required to use the media center. The new EFMedia Center has a television studio and a sound studio and these spaces are open all day for teachers and students to use throughout the day and before and after school. The media center also has a stage where students perform acoustic and singing performances throughout the day. The media center also has a cafe where our life skills students work as a pre-vocational activity to help transition beyond high school. Students can order anything at the cafe throughout the school day and after school. The space also has moveable furniture, flat screen televisions, gaming consoles, laptops, iPads, 3D printers, wireless microphones, pro-tools music software, movie editing software, access to eBooks and traditional library resources. We design the new space with couches, fun colors, big lettering on the walls, huge bean bags and ottomans. From Frontierland to Tomorrowland, from almost zero students visiting a traditional high school library to the new EFmedia Center where 50-60 students visit the space every period each day!

Explain the long-lasting impact of what you've presented in this video, and provide any qualitative or quantitative data that supports this impact.

EFHS was a very, very traditional high school! If you would have visited the school, you would have observed passive learning with teachers standing in front of the classroom teaching. Since the winter of 2012, we have been pushing our teachers with creating complex projects/project-based learning and the new EFmedia Center has changed the entire high school. The new space gives teachers the freedom for students to create video projects in the television studio or sound clips using the sound studio. Our technology support person and the new media specialists help students with using the 3D printer for projects and you app inventor to create apps for class projects. It's amazing to see in action! Book circulation has increased by 300% over the last three years due the changes to the media center. Every teacher is required to teach a complex project in the EFmedia Center throughout the school year and according to a student survey, 92% of the students feel more creative in this new space. The school district was named to the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools and named by Apple, Inc. as a Distinguished Program. The school district in the last six years has climbed 95 spots in the state ranking according to the Pittsburgh Business Times. Elizabeth Forward has increased its summer enrichment program almost 500% and reduced the dropout rate to zero. Six years ago, we had 75 students in outside cyber/charter schools. Today, we only have 11 students in outside cyber/charter schools. In the last two school years, we have seen a spike in enrollment within the school district. Prior to this, the enrollment within the district has been decreasing for years. Students are skipping lunch or study halls at the high school to learn how to use the sound and television studios.