I recently attended an edweb.net webinar entitled “Agile Learning Spaces” that focused on the redesign of learning spaces. By having a changeable classroom in your school, you…
- invite different thinking and behaviors. (We want students to be content creators, critical thinkers.)
- create space that INVITES that. For example, rooms could have…
- rolling white board tables to move around for each situation (to use as tables or partitions)
- chairs that roll too, and yoga balls, bean bag chairs, and carpeted areas
- partitions to separate areas
- no “front” of the room
- tubs for making things
These would be rooms to use for the things that you can’t do easily in your regular classroom. You could move the furniture around to make it work for a class of students, a staff meeting, or a whole grade level of students.
It was reported that students LOVE this. Why?
- Student Choice–They get to set up the room. They have control. This creates lifelong independent learners.
- Movement–It allows movement of students.
- Ownership–It encourages the ownership of maintaining the room, it pushes the ownership of learning onto the students. How much of the room is messaged around the teacher? Can the teacher make it a jointly held learning experience?
- Inclusion–By inviting all students to be a part of this, it allows students to move, stand, etc.
The presenters describe students drawing ideas on white board tables during or after a story is read. This gives all students a voice–even the ones who might not feel comfortable speaking. When 8th grade English students set up their own space, they WROTE MORE, AND HAD HIGHER QUALITY RESPONSES. They had a 10 minute writing block, and everyone stayed on task. Just the act of asking the students to set up the classroom gave them buy-in. When a 2nd grade math class used the room, they used wiggle bar stools instead of rigid wooden or plastic seats. Their accuracy didn’t change but they finished significantly more problems when allowed to use wiggle seats. Student productivity went up.
What does this mean for us? In this age of budget cuts, it might not mean a whole lot, but maybe, just maybe some of you may incorporate some agile learning spaces into your classrooms somehow, improving the education of your students one little corner at a time.