Over the last twelve months the way I view my (physical) classroom has changed significantly.
I have just completed a post for edmodo (I don’t think I’ve even mentioned on my blog that I’m one of their featured bloggers and have been writing weekly posts for the edmodo blog – check them out here) in which I reflect on how I encourage my students to align their physical learning space with their mental learning space.
I think what’s different about my classroom is not simply the fact that I am flexible with its daily design, but that I use metaphor as a means to help my students develop metacognition. Using the metaphor of ‘mythic’ or ‘archetypal’ learning spaces, my students are actively engaging with their own learning. So whilst my last post was about my fear that I am too much in control of my students’ learning, upon deeper reflection (and as a result of the comments from my fellow edu-thinkers) I do feel that my students are developing learning autonomy.
Below are some images of my classroom, to give you a glimpse of how I manage to transform a very traditional learning space (4 walls, a door, two windows, a whiteboard, 30 plastic chairs and 30 small desks) into a flexible 21st century learning space.
My prac students Lauren Forner created these posters for my room – I love them! Their bright colours contrast nicely to my Gothic dark purple walls:
Campfire: a place to learn from experts or storytellers. A place for whole-group discussions.
Watering Hole: a space for small group discourse and collaboration.
Cave: a space for individual study, reflection, quiet reading and creative flow.
This shows my classroom set up in ‘camp-fire’ mode:
My students meeting at the ‘waterhole’:
I’ve also been experimenting with a bit of a gaming metaphor – more like a team points competition – to enliven student participation. I have a couple of classes that a rather gender-skewed: lots of boys! Adding an element of competition is a means to reward student behaviour throughout our projects – a type of formative assessment, if you will. Setting concrete goals each lesson, each week and for the project as a whole seems to be working for these boys. Collaborating in small groups of four – mixed abilities groups selected by me – creates a sense of unity and teamwork. Points are being awarded for completion of tasks, quality of tasks, contribution to class discussions, positive group-work behaviours and organisation. Lauren made some points charts for the back of the classroom and each week we update the points to create a kind of leadership board.
This is what it looks like:
So there it is … my classroom!