Trying to create a diverse learning environment

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With the beginning of a new year and 80% of my students moving onto the next year I have decided that the learning space of Room 6 needs a drastic change.  The two catalysts for this change were the Central Lakes ICT Cluster visit to schools in Auckland last year and ICOT thinking from last week. Stonefields, Summerlands and Albany Senior College use their space in such a way that students get to take ownership of the learning and also find a space that fits their learning need whether it is collaborative, paired, whole class of independent.

Professor Peter Barrett of Salford Universities research paper on the analysis of the impact of classroom design on students learning identifies the learning environment as a huge part of a student’s ability to succeed or struggle.

The paper claims that various built environment factors have a significant impact on the learning progress of a pupil. Comparing the worst and best designed classrooms in their sample of 34 classrooms across 7 different UK schools, differences in learning progression are 25% on average. Or in short: well-designed classrooms can increase the learning progression of a pupil by 25%.

Taking this into account and looking at the theory of ‘Caves, Campfires and Watering Holes‘I have tried to make the classroom as accommodating for every child.  Although restricted by fixed items such as walls, IWB and wet area I have attempted to add various spaces within the classroom as interesting as possible.

Several trips to the local Wanaka Wastebusters has gained me some inexpensive furniture of an armchair, couch and library corner.

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By getting the handy caretaker to modify some soon to be scrapped pin boards I have created some study booth type ‘Caves’.

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And then the rest of the class has been laid out into cafe tables with stools, kneeling tables, group tables and collections of desks.
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In conclusion, there are a few other small differences this year in comparison to previous years… there is not enough desks for each child. Yes there are enough working spaces within the classroom and there are actually 33 spaces for 25 children not including couches, the floor or outside, but there are not enough physical desks.  This came about by reading Stephanie’s blog post about initial classroom set-up where she pointed out that when space was a premium there was not need for all to have a desk, as rarely do they all use them at the same time, and that by not all having a desk the students must actually share and co-operate together to decide who works where and in what learning area.

But now the classroom is set, the first day is ready to begin and I look forward to trying to articulate to my students why there is not a desk with their name on it.

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12 thoughts on “Trying to create a diverse learning environment

  1. Great to have you in the blogging world – I look forward to keeping up with your posts. A great way to start the year with a physical learning space change. Will be great to hear the great things and challenges you find working in your new space. It’s great to get the kids involved in moving the furniture and deciding where they need their spaces to be. It takes a while for them to understand that it is flexible and can be moved where they need it to be!

    1. Most of the motivation came from visiting you and K’s classes last year and seeing the impact that the environment had on the child, not the only impact, but it was a noticeable positive.
      Will need to be unpacking of each space, then the kids will be able to take ownership of the design.
      Thanks for commenting and inspiring me with what you do 😉

  2. Hi Luke, Woohoo, welcome to the world of blogging! What an awesome start for your learners. I think flexible learning spaces was the single greatest change to my teaching and learning last year. The learners own the spaces, the learning, the sharing, the journey. We had days where we woiuld empty the entire class and re-organise!
    Good luck with the first day and the year!!! I look forward to following the journey and would love to visit sometime too!
    Anne K

    1. After ICOT I am mentally charged and after summer I am physically charged for an awesome year. Love to have you up our way some time this year and you always have a welcome in Room 6 🙂

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