This week in CEP811 we considered the impact of classroom design on the educational experience. Through the use of SketchUp I created a representation of some of the changes I would like to make in my classroom.
CURRENT LEARNING SPACE:
My current classroom, while pretty standard at first glance, is actually pretty versatile. We have the typical student desks. The desks are fairly easy to move and we often rearrange the set-up based on the activity we may be doing at the time. We have a classroom set of laptops in a cart along one side wall. There is a projector mounted on the ceiling in the front of the room. In addition, there is a ceiling mounted audio system that is hooked up to the teacher computer. It also has two microphones. We have one rectangular and one circular table in the back of the room with roller chairs. These tables and chairs are utilized when students are working on group projects or if they need to be in a different space than their typical student desk.
One thing I would like to do is exchange the current desks for tables and roller chairs. While the desks are fairly easy to move, the fact that the chairs are attached to the desks limits student mobility. The attached seats also limits the amount of people who can work comfortably in a group. As the writers of The Third Teacher note, fidgeting is not necessarily a bad thing. They recommend to “Make peace with fidgeting. Think of it as brain development, which it is. Then think of how to make room for it in the classroom,” (The Third Teacher, 2010). I would like to exchange the desks for free standing tables and roller chairs for each student. Free standing tables can be rearranged in a multitude of ways that cannot be achieved with our current desks. Creating individual student tables with a flat surface would make it easier to create one or more bigger tables for groups of students to really spread out their work surface.
I would also like to add a second projector in the back corner. This would allow students working together on a project to have a common screen they could look at. It would also create another space in which student presentations could occur. In a student centered learning environment, having more than one presentation space would really give the impression that it is everyone’s classroom, not just the teacher’s.
In their study of the impact of classroom design on learning, Barrett, Zhang, Moffat and Kobbacy found that there were several pieces of design that had an impact on learning. “Six of the 10 built environment “design parameters” were identified as being particularly influential in the multi-level linear regression model. The six parameters are colour, choice, connection, complexity, flexibility and light,” (Barrett, Zhang, Moffat and Kobbacy, 2013). Given the results of their study, another aspect I would like to add to our classroom is a sofa and coffee table set up. With the mobile laptops already in place, there is no reason students should be required to stay put in their desks. Having a welcoming comfortable space in the room would invite students to relax into their work. This addition of flexibility and choice will play to the findings of the study. Additionally, this area would be near the full length windows in the classroom, allowing students access to the natural light when they needed it.
Several aspects of this redesign could be implemented fairly easily. The first thing I would like to do is bring out the second projector that I have in the closet. I would like to get a mobile cart so that students could use that projector to show what they are working on. We could use it to display student work and a multitude of other things.
Another aspect I am going to change is to remove the paper covering some of my windows. While we were under construction the PE classes use to run around the outside of the school. I covered the lower portion of the windows to eliminate the distraction. However, the PE classes no longer run around the school, so I can remove the covering and allow in more natural light.
These first two changes I can make immediately and with no additional cost. The introduction of the sofa and coffee table area will require a few more resources. I found a couple of couches and loveseats at IKEA for around $300. That does not seem like an outrageous amount.
The new student tables could come as a joint project with our cabinet tech classes. I would love to work with the teacher and the advanced students to come up with a design that would work for our classroom. I have a couple of students in cabinet tech this year. I imagine they would be very proud if they were a part of the design and construction of something that became a part of our room. The replacement of the desks could be a gradual process. We could aim to replace one pod of four at a time. One of the most significant costs may come from height-adjustable roller chairs. I found one version from Office Depot for about $50. We do currently have a different version of roller chair in our computer labs on campus. I would inquire after the cost of those as well.
Barrett, P., Zhang, Y., Moffat, J., & Kobbacy, K. (2013). A holistic, multi-level analysis identifying the impact of classroom design on pupils’ learning. Building and Environment, 59, 678-689. doi:10.1016/j.buildenv.2012.09.016
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). TTT Ideas Flashcards. Retrieved from http://goo.gl/v25rRA