Written by: Marcia Kish with DSD Professional Development
"Change the Space to Change their Mindset" Marcia Kish
Once a classroom teacher decides to change the learning space, the mindset of the learner changes. Flexible seating is one way to change the learning space. What does flexible seating mean? Different learning environments where students have the ability to work in a mini lesson with the teacher, by themselves, in a small group, standing up, sitting down, and a space to explore/create. To create flexible learning areas, a school and/or classroom teacher does not need to buy expense furniture to develop flexible learning environments he/she needs the ability to group the students in different learning areas. Some of the best learning spaces have come from free or found furniture.
How can we change learning mindset? The first thing a teacher needs to do is get rid of the rows. If the classroom is set up in rows facing the front of the classroom, the learner automatically assumes that they will be watching a slide show while the teacher delivers the information. The learner will take notes, sit quietly, and raise their hand when called upon. The photo below is a classic case of setting up a classroom in rows. Even though the school purchased high end flexible chairs the teacher has still aligned them into direct instruction grouping facing the front of the classroom. Take a moment to examine the photo and look at the tape marks on the floor. The tape marks indicate how far the student can travel while sitting in their chairs.
Generating Flexible Classroom Environments
I want to take a moment and restate that, "Changing the space does not mean spending thousands of dollars on furniture". The video below showcases how middle school teachers transformed a classroom with traditional desk into flexible learning spaces. When we entered the classroom all of the desk were facing forward but with team work and group discussion, we developed learning spaces that would meet the needs of a blended learning classroom. What are the learning spaces need for a blended learning classroom? In designing a blended learning environment, a classroom should have at least four designated areas for students to work and learn.
Creativity and Use of Space
When designing your space, be creative and think outside of the box. What once was five gallon buckets can now become stools and storage. What was once a plank of wood, can now become a digital content bar. What was once T.V. trays can now be an independent work area. There is no right or wrong way to set up the classroom as long as the students have the ability to learn in flexible seating and learning options. The video below showcases a 1st grade classroom. See if you can spot at least four different learning areas.
Steps to change your space
Do you want to change your classroom to a flexible learning environment? Then follow the steps below and before you know it, you will have a space where students can meet in a mini lesson, work independently, explore digital content, and work collaboratively while being creative, communicating, using critical thinking skills, and becoming globally connected
Classroom Design Challenge
The DSD Professional Development Team will be giving away a $100 dollar gift card to IKEA to one lucky classroom teacher. In order to win, send us a photo of your current classroom and tell us how you would like to change your learning environment. On September 25th, we will pick one lucky winner to receive the $100 dollars and a visit from the DSD PD team to help them redesign their classroom. Send your photos and classroom design ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org by September 24th.
Marcia Kish - Blended and Personalized Learning coach that designed the Three Phases of Blended Learning