Posts Tagged learning_design

Preservice students’ ultimate classroom design

In most English Curriculum units I run an activity where students work in groups to design their ultimate English classroom.

Here are some of the elements that come up in many of the designs:

  • Really big bookshelf
  • Reading area/chill out zone with bean bags
  • Lots of windows
  • Blackout curtains around the room for cinema viewing & drama background
  • ‘Drama blocks’ that can be used as seating or a stage (or a dedicated stage area)
  • An indoor plant
  • Projector and screen
  • Moveable tables (though note often teacher-centric as default)

Some groups, but not too many, also include:

  • Interactive whiteboard/s
  • Posters on the wall
  • iPad/laptop chargers
  • Student work display board
  • Different ‘zones’ in one big room
  • Coffee/tea making area
  • An outdoor area e.g. verandah

The inclusion of a coffee/tea area is slightly worrying, given the adolescent age range of the students in mind!

Other than that though, I can see very good reasons for most of these design elements.

The only problems is…I know that these aspiring teachers have buckleys of fitting all this in to a traditional school classroom space. Until we knock down the walls and invest in new, flexible, comfortable furnishings, these dream rooms will stay just that. A dream.

What do you do to make your classroom more like your ‘ultimate room’? What else would you include in your ultimate classroom design?

IMG_0803

A circular, two-level design

Indoor and outdoor space use

Indoor and outdoor space use

Multi-zone room with coloured carpets

Multi-zone room with coloured carpets

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Making content posters for my classroom walls

Over the years I have seen many creative and high utility wall displays in other people’s classrooms. Imelda Judge for example is wizard with cardboard and hot glue – sharing a classroom with her in 2009 was a wild apprenticeship in classroom decoration!

I say ‘other people’s classrooms’ because I haven’t had a lot of success with this kind of thing!

2008: One time, I thought I had made a pretty successful poster of quotes from King Lear for my Year 12s…but they never seemed to look at it:

king lear quotes

2009: Far more successful displays have tended to come out of students’ own work being put up, such as this display of lines of poetry after a lesson with Year 10:

10G epic poetry

2011: And the ‘tree of knowledge’ inspired display I’ve had in my uni teaching for the past 18 months was wrongly positioned at the back of the room, and a little haphazard to boot:

learning environment - blender board IMAG0501

Today: When I saw Bianca’s tweet today with a picture of her classroom wall painted with blackboard paint, I thought ‘how cool is that!?’

…which motivated me to start designing some posters to add to my classroom this semester.

I’m going for a digital look, rather than getting all crafty with the glitter and paint. I plan to print them out in colour A3 and get the students to decide where they think they should be put up in the room. Here is the first one – two of the key concepts I focus on in my English Curriculum Studies unit:

by me, Kelli McGraw (CC-BY-SA) free-to-use

by me, Kelli McGraw (CC-BY-SA) free-to-use

Mind you, the room I teach in has been a blu-tak free zone for the past two years, because it got a new paint job. This has been severely limiting. While it’s lovely on one hand to teach in a clean and modern space, it’s hard to use a room when you can’t put things up where you want. Teachers who don’t have a ‘home room’ will know the feeling!

The display I have been using so far, however, has been taking up one of the big green write-on groupwork boards in the room (to avoid having to blu-tak the wall). I don’t think I can keep using that board – I need it in my class, and other teachers must too.

So walls, you’ve had two years…the blu-tak is now a-comin 😉

If anyone else has electronic copies of pedagogy-inspired posters that they would be happy to share, I would love to see some more designs. And if you have any ideas for what else you think I should be flagging for 2nd year preservice English teachers, tell me all about that too!

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