On the back of my last post i’ve been thinking a lot about how I can transform my classroom to better cater for the kids of todays world. To foster and encourage creativity and innovation and have them engaged within a learning environment that breaks away from the norm and gives them a sense of belonging.
So after ‘sketch noting’ up a storm, see below ;), i’ve attempted to mockup a learning environment using my current space that reflects 21st Century teaching and learning. I love the whole notion of learning space and learning space design and love seeing how other educators have their learning spaces set up.
Having heard him countless times and even had the opportunity to work alongside him, Stephen Heppell is a person whose ideology around what learning spaces look and feel like are well noted. His website at http://www.heppell.net/ contains great information about all things learning space design and i have certainly adopted some of his thinking.
Documents such as those shared below via a dropbox folder are also great reads, albeit a little ‘departmentalised’, yet give clear insights into what perhaps an effective learning space can be and or should be. If this is the case though within these documents why are more school classrooms not like this…? The million dollar question!
The TEDx Talk below via Sean Corcorran is a great 17min watch and hearing Sean’s thoughts and philosophies relating to some of the thinking that goes into learning space design is terrific.
To cap this post off and on the back of my image below, i simply thought that I would describe my ideal classroom. Some, if not all, is certainly achievable and time to implement at least some of the below will be the only obstacle!
Here we go…
“I want a classroom space that belongs to my students. A space that they want to come to because it is safe, exciting and has purpose. Furniture is to be mixed and not all the same to cater for various learners. Bean bags, collaborative tablespaces, standing height benches, moveable seating, writable surfaces (walls and tables), and isolation, or independent, break out spaces are to be all complemented with natural lighting. I am also a big fan of ‘rooms within rooms’ for student to break away from what is happening in class and to have an environment that lessens interruptions to their learning. A great example of this is via the work Matt Ives, an educator from New Zealand is doing around Design Thinking, his blog can be located here.
I’d also love to have furniture that encourages physical activity, such as having to climb, crawl, or whatever it may be to gain access to a specific space. The examples below I think would be awesome! I think also having exercise machines such as exercise bikes in the classroom would also be fantastic and I am certain that they’d get used!
Here are three older images I located showing just a few of the things I mentions happening at my College.
Students, like those who work at Google, are to also have constant access to food and snacks throughout the day. We as adults are not restricted and told when to eat, our students should not be either. Obviously a focus geared towards healthy eating and brain food will be encouraged and not 500ml Cans of Red Bull!
Within the class there is to be a ‘makerspace‘ to foster and encourage student innovation and creativity that is NOT confined to the curriculum being taught. This also will be relevant towards teaching students to code within year levels where it is not stated within the curriculum. The use of other technologies to drive some of the above (MaKey MaKey, Arduino, iBeacon Tech, etc…) will certainly drive some very powerful learning. The greatest inventors of out time were never restricted to a syllabus!
To make the space personal I would like students to share achievements regarding things that they have achieved outside of school. To see their interests and passions that drive who they are and then for them to bring these passions into the classroom. My classroom would also be shoeless (A Heppell philosophy), to ensure comfort levels are optimum. I would also have no college/school uniform however I think that will be my one major sticking point. 😉 This all relates to the classroom belonging to the students.
My classroom would also be technology rich. Students having access to multiple devices, especially with an emphasis on using their own. I would have charging stations (OH&S, meh…), and a range of other attachments to suit individual learning needs. I would have a mobile LED TV, preferably interactive, that students could airplay, mirror their devices to. I would want this mobile so as to not make it the main point of the room. It would be flexible enough that I could use it with 1, 5, 10, or the whole class. I could turn it so others could not see it so as to not distract. In saying this it is exactly what I have now, apart from the interactivity, and it is brilliant! Also, and another point I heard off Mr. Heppell, is that I’d love to have ‘Skype’ or ‘Google Hangout’ bars. PLaces where students could interact and connect with others wherever they may be. Why should learning be limited to only the classroom and what is on the internet. Why should students not be able to connect with other experts, no matter where they are! As the American Educator Will Richardson puts it… “There are approx. 2.5 Billion People online. This can be seen as 2.5 billion predators, or, 2.5 billion teachers… You choose.”
Students would have the opportunity to present their work/findings/understandings in ways which play to their strengths and that also encourage a greater global audience.
I think that i’ll stop here. I could perhaps go on but for now, if my classroom was everything that I have just mentioned above, I would be a pretty happy man. I think that my students would be even happier though!