This week, I took a deeper look at the design of my classroom and virtually (re)designed it to make 21st century learning possible.
When evaluating my current classroom, a strength is that students are grouped in teams for collaborative learning, but there were many limitations as well. One limitation is that it is very crowded with all of the desks in the middle of the classroom, which makes it hard to move around. Also, my desk takes up a lot of unnecessary space. Another limitation is that there is no space for students to display there thinking around the room; all of the walls are out of reach due to tables and storage. One last flaw is that there is not flexible seating; some students learn better standing up or getting comfortable on a bean bag rather than sitting in a desk.
To address these limitations, I (re)designed the classroom to create a spacious, collaborative workspace.
First, I would replace the desks with a range of different seating, including a table with chairs on wheels, a couch with storage underneath, bean bags, standing desks and a round seating area with a table in the middle. With these seating options, students will be able to choose where they can learn best based off their needs (independent vs. collaborative, standing vs. sitting, etc.). In The Third Teacher’s 79 Ways You Can Use Design to Transform Teaching and Learning (2010), they say to let students make choices about their learning to bring out their individual strengths; therefore, letting them choose physically how they learn best will help them succeed. There are storage compartments around the room for individual and communal supplies. I removed my desk, and will use the furniture and storage compartments just like my students. I also would paint two of the walls with white board paint. In Chapter 2: Minds at Work from The Third Teacher (2010), OWP/P Architects explain that “it is important to display scientific, artistic and historic works that have been fashioned by students and teachers.” With two white board walls and another wall that are open and accessible, this gives students a place to display and share their thinking. One last major renovation would be installing cabinets on the wall for more storage space. Right now, the cabinets are on the ground which takes up a lot of space.
I already have many of these resources in my classroom, including the rug, bean bags, round table and cabinets, but there are also some things that I would need to acquire:
Couch with Storage: $265
Circular Booth: $1,409
Standing Desks: $165
White Board Paint: $132
Rolling Chairs: $35 each
These additions are very expensive, but with the help of Donors Choose, I will hopefully be able to obtain these over a couple of years. I will start by making the changes that I can do immediately with the supplies I have, including hanging the cabinets and getting rid of my desk. Lucky for me, I have a husband who is very handy and works for a construction company to help me! As I receive the Donors Choose furniture, I can slowly start replacing the desks with it. This will not be a quick process, but over the years, I hope that I can have a classroom that is suitable for 21st century learning.
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). New York: Abrams.
The Third Teacher. (2010). TTT Ideas Flash Cards. Retrieved from http://goo.gl/v25rRA