A couple of weeks ago I made the decision to transform my classroom into a 21st century learning space with NO budget. My inspiration was the mythic learning spaces of watering hole, campfire and cave. See me post here.
So how did my students respond?
Well, as per my post, my Year 7 students were responsible for the actual design of the space, so once could imagine that they would revel in it. Not so … they LOVE the open space that the arrangement provided at the front of the room – giving space for circle-time and whole-group discussions (campfire time). What didn’t work very well was the division of some students in ‘watering holes’ and some in ‘caves’ – my room was still inflexible when ‘set’ in a specific layout.
What a classroom needs is flexibility of space and furniture. Instead of the design ‘owned’ by Year 7, what has manifested is an ever-changing, dynamic learning environment. I have become far more relaxed in my approach to classroom furniture being moved – in fact, I’ve changed entirely as I now actively encourage my students (nay, require) them to move the furniture to suit the learning experience they will be involved in during our lesson.
My room at the moment still has the centralised green mat (this is our campfire) and has 5 groups of 6 tables. Year 7 and 8 are working on PBL projects (Year 7 is Shakespeare, Year 8 is Burton and Shakespeare) so the groups works well for this. Year 12 are working in a combination of the three mythic spaces (campfire, watering hole, cave) so the tables move often at the beginning of their lessons. The campfire mat has become a much loved space as the students gather together for informal circle-time as well as initial whole-class discussions regards what will be covered in each lesson and the learning goals for each group and individual.
I’m really happy with my new approach to learning spaces. I do hope that in the future more schools will be approaching learning spaces in a far more flexible and student-centred/learning-focused way.
How is your classroom looking these days?