A learning space must coax learners to be active. Every day at about 2:00PM, I hit it - the afternoon plunge into slumber. Our students hit it too. I had a class one year that I asked to do jumping jacks every 15 minutes because they also fell victim to this slumber attack. Looking back at that classroom, it was collaborative in that I had the class positioned in tables. I changed up the layout of my room often. However, I can say it was still a classroom that did not call learners to be active. There was not a space for students to be independent - to be different.
Oftentimes, we, as teachers, try to differentiate learning by giving students options. And, that is a step. However, we can differentiate further by adjusting our learning spaces. Recently, I walked into a classroom. Some students were sitting on medicine-like balls. Others were sitting on a carpet space. One was sitting in a desk. Another group was sitting in the corner in stools. Everyone had their space. Everyone had their tool. The class was not working on the same thing. In fact, within a group, there were a variety of different tasks being completed. The end goal was the same, though. They were working to create a better school-wide recycling program.
Does this teacher's method require a lot of planning? Yes. Does it require a lot of management? Yes - initially. When I entered the classroom, however, students were managing themselves. The teacher was assisting students as they needed help. And, that's the beauty of designing a classroom that promotes active learners.
What are some steps to get your classroom more active?
- Mix up your furniture.
- Teach around big concepts. Let the students find their niche within that concept.
- Encourage creativity & cultivate that.
- Don't worry about the device. Allow for student choice. You don't need a class set. You really don't.
- Be passionate. It goes a long way.
Think about what makes you most creative. Think about what makes your peers most creative and design to that. I feel most creative in either silence or music of my choice. I like to be where there are windows. I like to be alone. Some of my friends like to be surrounded by others in a loud space. Others feel most creative in an organized environment. Design based upon creativity.
What makes you feel most creative? What makes your students feel creative?