With today’s education including catch phrases like problem based learning, maker spaces and play learning, the classrooms of today look very different to the old and stale classrooms we remember. In this article I look at some practical ways to make the classroom a better place to be and encourage self-learning by students.
Just like modern home design, the trend for classrooms is to break up the space into more defined zones rather than one large space. It’s a good idea to make a plan on paper first so you can nut out all the zones and how they will interact with each other. A whole-group gathering zone is a good place to start, as this will generally be the main area the class is held. A good way to define this zone is to use large rug that everyone can fit on, standing or sitting.
The student work zones are another key area to consider. Think about creating flexible desk arrangements that allow students to work on their own, in pairs or in groups. You can also create more relaxed learning zones with bean bags or cushions on the ground – these can work great for reading based exercises and makes kids more relaxed.
Generally all the zones should be loosely defined within the main space, however in some larger classrooms or multiple ages in a combined classroom, creating more solid division between zones can work well. For example, using large sliding doors to define zones for learning and zones for research/reading etc is a great option. Use door hardware that can be completely opened up to create one large space or closed when smaller spaces are needed. The hardware is important to consider also, as it will see a lot use from teachers and students and inferior hardware will soon cause all sorts of headaches. Brio make some of the best hardware for sliding doors and sliding door tracks that will take years of rough treatment. The hardware is all made from quality materials and conforms to the highest industry standards. You should also use a professional builder to install the doors, for everyone’s piece of mind.
Remember also that you need to cater to all kinds of learners from extroverts, solo investigators, writers, dreamers and introverts. Aim to create a flexible space that caters to all. A tech station is also a good idea to limit the use of screens to one area and maximise the effectiveness of the technology. There are a host of excellent learning apps out there, so be sure to integrate some into your lessons.