Today’s quickfire challenge involved (re)creating a learning space. I chose my classroom as the space to redesign, as being surrounded by educational theories and practices lately, it seemed only natural to do so.
After reading an excerpt from The Third Teacher (Cannon Design Inc., VS Furniture, & Bruce Mau Design., 2010), regarding the creation of learning spaces, this quote stuck with me in particular: “Consider a variety of learning spaces- spaces in diverse sizes, materials, and colors, as well as spaces with different transparency, connectivity, and agility. The one-size-fits-all idea really isn’t acceptable anymore.” This statement confirmed my feeling that my learning space isn’t too bad- considering the physical parameters and resources available.
The large carpet area serves several needs. It is used for whole group instruction, where students sit beside learning partners and collaborate on ideas. A large amount of independent work and reading is done in this area on bean bags- as is small group work. Morning meetings and class discussions also occur on the carpet. The U-shaped table is intended for small group instruction, and is also a favorite location for students to work independently or with a partner, away from the crowd.
Throughout the classroom there are multiple independent desks, where students elect to work for a more formal environment and away from distractions. There are three rows of eight student desks, where they keep supplies, and often collaborate together on multi-disciplinary learning objectives. In addition to the desks, students also have a storage area, or cubby, to keep additional art, music, P.E., and school supplies.
Below I have created a design for how I feel the space may be improved. One large constraint that I cannot seem to get around, is the limited area for student work to be displayed. This is made difficult, as school policy prevents teachers from taping anything to the walls. Some student work is displayed on bulletin boards over the teacher storage area and above the writing/art supplies. However, other than those locations, space is limited due to the height of student storage areas and windows (which cannot be covered). There is a bulletin board outside our classroom, but it is not easily accessible for students to actually make use of it. I am still working on this issue. Therefore, the biggest change I would like to try to implement is the use of round tables for student work spaces. The round table promotes student equality and collaboration- both of which are important in a learning space. While students will be able to work and share ideas, it is also possible for them to face forward in their chair and work independently. In addition, my fourth grade classroom will be receiving a cart containing a class set of laptops this year. The location for the cart is already determined, however I feel this provides another need for using round tables. As students are sliding laptops and notebooks back and forth, working independently or collaboratively, there will be a smooth, open surface with plenty of space, as opposed to the constraints of their rectangular desk.
With the addition of these tables, I feel the classroom would be opened up a bit more, and provide multiple locations for any type of learning that will be happening in our fourth grade class.
Cannon Design Inc., VS Furniture, & Bruce Mau Design. (2010). Minds at work. In The Third teacher. Retrieved from http://static.squarespace.com/static/509c0d15e4b058edb8f35a86/t/50f495b3e4b0c7661ad2ec2e/1358206387728/Ch2%20TTT%20for%20Web.pdf