Next year I will be moving from teaching Kindergarten to teaching 7th and 8th grade. I will have a teaching partner and we will be using the same learning space to teach our 40 plus students. I am excited about the opportunity to teach at a new grade level and work alongside a wonderful educator. In the current classroom about 8-10 students gather around four groups of three rectangle tables. The classroom includes a tech cart with a computer and document camera. The tech cart stays in one spot and surprisingly doesn’t allow for much flexibility. There is one projector that shows on the middle of the east wall. The whole west wall is made of white board so students can show their thinking and display artwork.
In CEP811 we were asked to redesign a learning space with collaboration, personalized learning, and design at the forefront. I chose to redesign the current 7th and 8th grade classroom since that will be the space I will be using next year. One of the components of the redesign that I am the most excited about is thinking about collaboration. At my school we teach primarily using project based learning (PBL) and I needed to think about how students will engage with the teachers, work together, and present their understanding. Below are a few images of the current 7th and 8th grade classroom.
As you might be able to tell from the photos, there is a great deal of natural light that can penetrate the classroom. A study published by Barrett, Zhang, Moffat & Kobbacy, noted six “distinct classroom characteristics that relate to the improvement of the pupils’ academic achievement” (Barrett et al., 2013, p. 668). The six characteristics include: light, choice, flexibility, connection, complexity, and color. The study indicated that a classroom that “receives natural light from more than one orientation or natural light that can penetrate into the south windows” will have a positive effect on pupils’ academic achievement. The image below shows a panoramic view of the classroom. On the south side of the room are large windows. On the north side of the room there is a garage door with window panels that allows light to penetrate the room.
I believe that this learning space already lends itself well to collaboration and it has the components that Barrett, Zhang, Moffat & Kobbacy discuss in their study. The Third Teacher came up with a list of 79 Ways You Can Use Design To Transform Teaching and Learning. I focused on the section about Rewired Learning because that is what my new teaching partner and I will need to think about when utilizing our learning space. Below are images of a SketchUp model for the redesigned learning space.
In my redesign I included two couches where students could go to meet in small groups and read. I also decided to get rid of a lot of tables in the classroom that took up space. By keeping four rectangle tables where students can easily sit and work, I will create more space for different learning activities to take place in the classroom. I redesigned where the projector in the classroom was located as well as added a second projector. Having two projectors on opposite ends of the east wall would allow both teachers to use them simultaneously, as well as allow multiple student groups to use for presentations. The redesign includes roller chairs, benches, and bean bags so students can easily regroup in different zones of the classroom.
Albert Einstein was quoted as saying, “logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” I want to create a learning environment that will allow my students to go anywhere their learning can take them. Wayfair and Amazon have great deals on classroom furniture that I would use for this redesign. I created a google doc of items needed for this redesign and ended up with a $4,500 estimate. Though this would be an expensive redesign, I know my teaching partner and I will find ways to make part of this vision a reality. Perhaps, we will need to create a PBL to get our students engaged in the redesign.
Barrett, P., Zhang, Y., Moffat, J., & Kobbacy, K. (2013). A holistic, multi-level analysis identifying the impact of classroom design on on pupils’ learning. Building and Environment. Retrieved from https://ecadmin.wdfiles.com/local–files/facilities/Impact%20of%20Classroom%20Design%20on%20Learning.pdf
Le, T. (2011, March 15). Teaching Kids Design Thinking, So They Can Solve The World’s Biggest Problems. Retrieved from https://www.fastcodesign.com/1663416/teaching-kids-design-thinking-so-they-can-solve-the-worlds-biggest-problems
OWP/P Architects, VS Furniture, & Bruce Mau Design. (2010). The third teacher: 79 ways you can use design to transform teaching & learning. Retrieved from http://thethirdteacherplus.com/s/Ch2-TTT-for-Web-0y6k.pdf
The Third Teacher. (2010) 79 WAYS YOU CAN USE DESIGN TO TRANSFORM TEACHING + LEARNING. Retrieved from https://edtechfromztoa.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/417bd-79ideasoveralllist.pdf