Posts Tagged The_Blender

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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The Blender

‘The Blender’ is the nickname for the Faculty of Education’s blended learning room at QUT, B.240

Our blended learning space is designed with six movable group hubs, each with an egg shaped table (really great design imo), movable chairs and a digital electronic workstation.  There is also a store room containing a trolley of 20 laptops.  Yesterday I went in to take some snaps:

The question is: Will it Blend?

One of the features of blended learning is that it uses a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous instruction.  To this end I have already created a unit blog and twitter account that will be used by activity groups in all lessons.  Now comes the hard bit – how to change my pedagogy so that more than one thing can be going on in this room at once.  This will involve considering:

  • how I position myself in the room (which table do I sit at?)
  • how to control group work noise (a struggle with year 9 anyway)
  • how to create discrete ‘learning spaces’ (I want a cave and a campfire, but will work in a room shared by other teachers?)
  • whether this room is as massive as it seems (the tables and chairs aren’t easily removed making the table/group setting an unavoidable focus).

My ideas so far include:

  1. students starting each tutorial at a table with their ‘reading group’ to reflect on the scholarly materials set for the week
  2. moving to whole class activity or teacher-lead discussion/screening (we could all come sit on the floor/roll our chairs into a theatre style for this)
  3. students all breaking away at some point into ‘activity groups’ (different to their ‘reading groups’) to engage in collaborative and connected learning activities
  4. having at all times a range of individual tasks (housed on the blog?) for students to work independently on (so no-one ends up sitting around doing nothing while one group member writes discussion notes on a blog etc.)

I love this room so much, and can see so much potential in it.  I’d love to hear any ideas that other teachers have for using this space effectively…there’s a movie of the book already, lol: