Teaching in the round …

OK – so it’s not really ‘the round’ … cos I’m not in the middle … but there is a circle!! ;0)

On Monday my new prac student started after quite a hasty, last minute email request to supervise her. I didn’t get time to rearrange my classroom to feign a thoughtfully organised classroom layout. I just had to fly by the seat of my pants … again. So driving in to school on Monday morning I had to remind myself of the units I’m teaching for all classes whilst simultaneously ensuring I change to the correct gears, check my twitter/fb feed on my phone and answer my 6 year old’s incessant questions about the moon, earth, aliens etc. (Who said multi-tasking is a fraud?)

So what did I come up with? Something basic that I have found to be wonderfully flexible and effective for all of my classes. This image below kinda shows what I did:

Essentially I have created a space where the class can come together and discuss, present and listen (our campfire) as well as spaces for group work (wateringhole) and (when we get there) individual work (caves – hopefully). Here’s how it’s working for my classes right now:

Year 9: We sat in the ‘campfire’ circle to chat about their test results and the features of ‘persuasive texts’ that they were struggling with. Then they moved to the desks (wateringhole) to work on their projects … some more successful at this than others. See here.

Year 10: We sat in the ‘campfire’ circle to read ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ and discuss what the novel is teaching us about ‘resilience’.

Year 11: We sat in the ‘campfire’ circle to read ‘A Property of the Clan’ and discuss the focus question ‘Should Art Imitate Life?’. Students then moved to the desks (wateringhole) to work on a mini-group task based on one of the Five Elements of Writing – these were then shared in our cyber-space campfire – edmodo.

Year 12: We sat in the ‘campfire’ circle to read ‘Notes on Nationalism’ by George Orwell and discussed the similarities between Orwell’s world and our own. Our discussion led us to the recent killing of Osama bin Laden and how the celebrations of the Americans reflected their nationalism.

It’s been so cool to stumble across a style of classroom layout that is flexible but not as messy as rearranging the furniture each lesson. Ah … one day in the future I’ll laugh at this post because schools will actually be designed for the 21st century learner.