Designing My Classroom to Promote 21st Century Learning

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classroom 2This week in CEP811 I will be re-designing my classroom to promote learning in the 21st Century using SketchUp.  I am blessed beyond measure to have a classroom equipped with multiple pieces of technology, but the classroom 1classroom’s overall layout is not conducive to 21st Century Learning.  While I do have one of the larger classrooms in my building, it is not near large enough.  Each student has their own computer and students are seated in rows.  There is a SMART Board at the front of the classroom, a large teacher’s desk that takes up a lot of space, three white boards that are placed on the two larger walls, and windows on one side opposite the door.  While my classroom has potential, the computer setup currently is very restrictive to rearranging my classroom to fit my so called “Dream Classroom” design.

After I was hired, like any other educator, I was curious to see where I would be spending the majority of my time molding and shaping young minds.  I was excited when I saw the technology, based on stories from other friends of mine in the teaching profession, who really didn’t have access to the technology like I had in my district.  However, the classroom was built several years ago and was setup by the teachers who vacated the room before I moved in.  Although I noticed the layout in the beginning (not caring much for it), I quickly realized that there wasn’t much I could do to alter it.  I had to “make it work” for my teaching style, the students, and for the general makeup of the room.  Getting to play around with the layout using SketchUp not only piqued my interests, but sent my brain into storm mode.

The biggest supporting factor for changing the way schools and classrooms are designed is backed by Howard Gardner’s research on the Multiple Intelligences.  In a nutshell, his research states that we all have strengths and weaknesses.  The best way for each student to learn is by allowing them to use their strengths to solve a problem, learn, and create.  By creating a learning space that incorporates the learning styles of all learners rather than an “all size fits all” method, more learning is allowed to take place.

During the stages of imagining the redesign of my classroom, I really wanted to start from scratch.  From my research of Howard Gardner’s learning theories and Experience Design from the perspective of David Kelley and Tedde van Gelderen, I had so many ideas in mind.  My creative juices began to erupt when I read a chapter from The Third Teacher entitled, “Minds At Work” and several other articles via The Third Teacher+.  I was amazed at the changes to learning spaces across the world.  I began relating them to my classroom and began brainstorming.  In my classroom I wanted collaboration, experience, individual learning, and enjoyment.  With those things in mind, I began sketching my classroom on paper (I had to see my illustration before I attempted SketchUp due to the fact that I am not spatial at all) including a collaborative team space, an area for brainstorming/play, a lecture area for large group instruction, a large reading area along with individual nooks, computer/research lab, and individualized learning cubicles.  That would be but just a start with the interior of the classroom.  I would really like to incorporate an outdoor classroom, although it would be different than the traditional thought of an outdoor classroom found in science classrooms.  Students should still be allowed to enjoy the outdoors and beauties of nature in English Language Arts too.  Nature is inspirational and has been proven to aid in brain functioning.  Hey, dream big, right?!

My best attempt at my SketchUp is found below.  I found that, in researching the Multiple Intelligences, as well as playing with SketchUp that I am definitely NOT a spatial learner whatsoever!  The struggle was real when developing my classroom layout.  Also, during my research of SketchUp and 21st Century classroom design, I came across a former student of CEP811 that designed his own learning space.  I was extremely impressed by his blog post and classroom design using SketchUp and wanted to share.  Obviously I have some work to do playing around with SketchUp to catch up!

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21st Century Classroom Design By Ray Stuckey

In order implement my dream classroom for the best possible learning experience for my students, it would involve several factors; from monetary resources to a small army of people including architects, engineers, school officials, teacher committees, parents, the community, and most importantly, the students.  Funding would be made available by writing grants, donations, and potential state funding for classroom upgrades.  Placing a price tag on the learning space that I have created is nearly impossible in that there are several factors that would play into estimations such as using computers from my current classroom, buying all new, or allowing students to bring their own devices.  Also, if we could use extra tables that are not being used in the building as well as other classroom furniture, this would cut down on cost as well.

For this project to begin, proper planning and funding would have to be in place.  For such a large project that incorporates so many factors, it may be best to implement a few things at a time.  For example, implementing two of the areas per year over the next four years may be a more feasible, gradual process allowing for the funding to be planned on a smaller scale rather than from a large perspective.  However, with this kind of design format for a school to transition into, sometimes it’s best to take the leap!

References:

Big Thinkers: Howard Gardner on Multiple Intelligences. (n.d.). Edutopia. Retrieved November 24, 2013, from http://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-howard-gardner-video

Howard Gardner | Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education / Harvard Graduate School of Education. (n.d.). Howard Gardner. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://howardgardner.com/

Kelly, David. How to Build Your Creative Confidence. Retrieved Nov. 22, 2013 from http://www.ted.com/talks/david_kelley_how_to_build_your_creative_confidence.html?awesm=on.ted.com_Kelley&utm_campaign=&utm_medium=on.ted.com-static&utm_source=direct-on.ted.com&utm_content=awesm-publisher

raystuckey. (n.d.). raystuckey. Retrieved November 24, 2013, from http://raystuckey.wordpress.com/tag/sketchup/

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