Monday, September 23, 2013

The Physical Learning Environment

"Every educator has a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for all learners."
 - CISD Learning Framework
                        
Educators have the responsibility to provide a variety of spaces from which learners are able to collaborate, construct knowledge and meaning, and contribute to others. Through the design of the physical "classroom", educators either contribute to or take away from learners' abilities to reach their fullest potential.

How can we address these needs in our "classroom"? Please reflect on the following questions and share your comments below. 
  • How does your physical classroom provide opportunities to reach different learners?
  • How can you rearrange your "classroom" with minimal expense to support both collaborative and independent spaces that are inviting and appealing?
  • How does the arrangement of your "classroom" physical spaces enhance digital learning?

“Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not. ”

Check out the Vlog below...



If you cannot see the embeded video, click here to watch it instead.

33 comments:

  1. I have always wanted to have a more relaxed learning environment; however in elementary school it is a more difficult task. We always ran into the issue of, where were the learners going to keep their things? Moving to middle school this year enabled me to redesign my classroom and I am so excited about the result. I have a couch, a large 3 person bean bag, all kinds of pillows, some desks, and some tables with yoga balls to sit on. We talked the first day how everyone learns differently and to sit in a location that makes them feel the most comfortable learning. It has been a great investment for me and my learners. They are able to move around and choose locations based on the activities we are working on and their preferences. Now if only I could keep the yoga balls from going flat...

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    1. Such a loss for elementary school, but the middle school has gained a fantastic teacher in you! Your understanding of creating engaging lessons and designing various learning opportunities, and your thirst to always learn more will absolutely positively affect your learners. Share your knowledge and keep up the great work!
      HUX

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  2. Way to go, Pinkerton! It was great to hear from the learner about the positive changes going on.

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  3. What an eye-opening video that already has me brainstorming on ways I can change the learning environment for our First Graders at Lakeside. I think younger grades are great about having a comfy reading area, but now taking that and opening it up to all other subjects would be very beneficial. I am already brainstorming a way to make a hallway learning space for our grade!

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    1. I am so excited you decided to join us on this journey! I can't wait to see the things you do to change the Physical Learning Environment for your first graders at Lakeside!

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    2. Melissa-You are in the perfect hallway to help think about how to leverage those hallways for small-group collaboration spaces with with soft seating and flexible furniture. Love to help you write a grant!

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  4. With my principal's help, I have already done some redesigning in my classroom. We replaced desks and big heavy tables with small, lightweight tables that the kiddos can configure however they need to without my help. We added lots of shelving on the walls to increase storage without losing a lot of floor space. I now have some of my older kids exploring other ways that we can redesign our space to make it what they need it to be for their learning. Exciting times!

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    1. I love that you are getting your learners involved in co-designing the learning spaces in your room! I can't wait to hear more about it!

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  5. As an administrator I wonder if the "classroom" I am thinking of could apply to learning spaces for our staff members. One way to get that started, I believe, could be a survey or a scavenger-hunt type activity where the staff are going to parts of the building they may never get to...and that new perspective could help us re-configure learning spaces that benefit learners of all ages!

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    1. I agree that we must think about ways to connect teachers to spaces that they don't have or may not have seen before. Lets work together as a team to encourage our teachers to be risk takers!

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    2. Last year we brought a team from each of the existing campuses and had them start to think about how they could transform the current blueprint. The North educators got pumped thinking about what could happen in the areas where the current lockers are located throughout the building. Their hypothesis was that if we went 1:1 then we wouldn't need lockers and could use that for small and medium size collaboration spaces. Oh the possibilities!

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  6. Loved hearing from our learners! this inspires me to continue on this learning journey.

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    1. Yay Donna! I am exicted that you are working on this journey! Please let me know how I can assist you with this.

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    2. Awesome Donna! It is amazing what our learners can contribute when we give them the opportunity!

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  7. I have the opportunity as a facilitator in the Blended Learning HUB at West, to see first hand how technology is positively affecting our students! They love the relaxed environment "no desks!" and the are stepping up to the challenge of doing all of their work electronically. We are all learning so much.

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  8. I've been trying to figure out a replacement for the GIANT HEAVY flower tables we use in Kinder. They are too big and take up waaaaayyyyy too much space for the little time we actually sit at them. I'm thinking of writing a grant for new tables, but haven't founda solution yet. Anyone have any great ideas? =o)

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    1. This is a great next step. Let's meet to brainstorm some options for your classroom! Thank you for participating in this learning experience. - Lorie Squalls

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    2. Katie-I have a ton of vendors that have some great flexible furniture that would be age appropriate. Let me know if you want to take a peek.

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  9. oops! My 3rd-5th GTi learners are currently working on a PBL to redesign their classroom environment. One of the scaffolding activities asks them to take pics of "a place they want to learn", "a place you want to hang out", and "a place you just think looks cool". They'll be able to focus their ideas for redesign after identifying patterns in their pics using pollev.com

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    1. This sounds so exciting! I can't wait to see what your learners come up with in their re-design!

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    2. Lisa - I love that you asked the learners what they want to do, where they want to learn! As we are designing learning for our learners, shouldn't we get their input? I can't wait to see what they come up with!

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  10. I love the way Pinkerton is being creative. I was blessed the year before last with alternative seating in my room. It is flexible and is conducive to collaborative learning. I've added floor pillows and individual seating if wanted in the lab area of my science classroom. The students really enjoy it. I also painted last year one focal wall green. I get a lot of feedback that the classroom is welcoming and comfortable. Here is a link to Edutopia's 8 tips for redesigning your space! http://www.edutopia.org/blog/8-tips-redesign-your-classroom-david-bill?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=blog-remake-repost

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    1. Thank you for sharing the Edutopia link! It definitely had some great tips to consider when redesigning your space. Sounds like you have already started making some great changes!

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  11. I love having different learning spaces in my classroom. Many kids love the couch, pillows, cafe table, rocking chairs, and saucer chairs that we have in our room. There are areas for both collaboration and independent learning. But, one lesson I have learned is the importance of keeping a traditional space for my formal learners. When given a choice, there are still some students who learn best at tables and desks. Some learning styles crave that structure. Digital learning can take place in any of the spaces. Now that we have ipads, they aren't bound to the desktop computer area. Unless of course, they want to be! :)

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  12. The flexible learning environment has been a passion for me for years. In the last 3 years I have added to my flexible seating areas in my classroom from cozy window seats, pillows, carpets, and a couch to multiple Big Joe chairs. I have heard my learners make comments about how it feels so cozy in our classroom and that it really feels like HOME. That's my goal. Whether students are together reading in a bean bag to sitting on the window seat with a laptop table, they are free to find an area that is comfortable for them for that task. Having the different work surfaces and seating blends together to enhance our digital learning atmosphere...My desire and I believe the desire of my learners is to be able to move out a few more tables to make more space in other ways. It's taking time and determination, but we are committed to the task...

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    1. Nancy-Thank you for your commitment. IT is amazing how space and environment impacts the brain and the way we process information. I can't wait to see what is next in your journey of a transformed environment.

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    2. Just today I walked up to Nancy's room and tweeted out how her learning space "bleeds" out into the hallway. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BVgALduCcAAdA0c.jpg:large I think this is a perfect way to problem solve a small place with big bodies.

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  13. As an administrator at CCE, I am proud of the spaces our educators have created for our learners. Most rooms visitors walk into have bright pillows and chairs, collaborative work spaces, and mood lighting.

    I LOVE that Pinkerton has inspired me to look at more of our hallway spaces to see how we could create nooks or areas for learners. Next stop...cbay to look for a couch someone is getting rid of. :)

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  14. Alan November says it all in the following article.
    http://novemberlearning.com/educational-resources-for-educators/teaching-and-learning-articles/designing-libraries/

    I LOVE how he looks at libraries, accepting what is already here, but moving the space forward, reaching learners and educators of today and beyond. He does not throw out what is already working -- that wonderful tactile relationship that people have with their reading material, but he looks critically at how libraries are changing in positive ways -- addressing personalized education, places for students to create their own meaning and content -- and suggests some alternate ways to structure your space to make that happen. Even though this article is about libraries specifically, I think classroom teachers could gain from reading it. Love the whole idea of looking at physical space and how it impacts learning. The high school library is in need of some TLC in this area.

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  15. I love that the learners are enjoying the new learning environments. Thank you Shari for sharing.

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