For the past two years, I taught in a large classroom that was in the shape of a rectangle and was almost too big (unbelievable that I am actually using those words – but it’s the truth). This year, I was placed into a classroom that is an odd setup. It’s still in the shape of a rectangle, however has a smaller rectangle attached to it with room for a bathroom and a computer lab. In my classroom, there are five doors (YES – FIVE!). I think this has been the biggest inconvenience in that I cannot have anything covering those doors and it takes away from the learning spaces that could potentially be built within the classroom.
This project has helped me to think outside the box, generate new ideas of what I would want, what I would add/change to fit the needs of my 21st century learners.
Here are pictures of what my classroom currently looks like:
I love the hexagon shaped tables in the room because it gives the students their own individual space, but I feel like there is not enough room. I love having computers in the classroom and am thankful that I have them, however, I wish they were more visible and accessible to the students, rather than being in it’s own room.
As Trung Le stated in his article A 21st Century School on the Cutting Edge of Learning, the classroom setups of today are for the 19th century learner, it’s “what academics call age-specific grouping, contain and control, didactic instruction, prescribed knowledge, uniformed progression, fixed schedules, and standardized assessment through memorization” (2105). As the Maker Movement becomes more prominent and the main focus in the 21st century, our classrooms should start reflecting it as well. Keeping that in mind, I wanted to create more space, color, comfortable spots in the room and accessibility to resources (ex: computers, whiteboards, etc.) for the students. As stated by The Third Teacher (2010) we need to cherish children’s spaces, make peace with fidgeting, swivel to attention, think hands-on, and let the students lead.
I spread out the tables so there was plenty of room between them and changed the chairs to swivel chairs so it would allow students the ability to move around. I added yoga balls for students to sit at, bean bags, comfortable chairs, as well as taller tables where they could stand and work. Each child learns differently and having the opportunity to move about and find a comfortable place to learn, I believe it will help students to focus better, be more engaged and involved in their own learning.
I have envisioned a 21st century classroom to better fit the needs of all my students. It allows them the chance to move, collaborate with their peers, use their resources and most of all – build a sense of community.
With renovations, comes an expense. The swivel chairs are a cost of $1,900 with each chair costing around $70 each. Bean bags can be purchased from Meijer or Target for $20 each, so for 4 bean bags that’s $80. Child size yoga balls run about $25 a piece so for 10 balls, that would be $250. The standing tables are about $50 a piece, for 3 tables that’s $150. Lastly, for the comfortable chairs in the room, it is about $30 (staying on the cheaper side) so another $90. Plus the paint for the walls and the carpeting. I am looking at a remodel of about $3,000 total.
With funding constantly being cut in schools, I find that I am only dreaming when it comes to recreating my classroom. This revision would not have to happen all at once. It could be a progression with reaching out to other resources like applying for a grant or go on Donorschoose.org. I am going to start small, with the yoga balls for instance, and see if I can slowly add to my classroom each year, hoping to create the best learning environment for my 21st century learners.
Kolk, M. (2011). The 21st century classroom – where the 3 R’s meet the 4 C’s! [Online Image] Retrieved from: http://web.tech4learning.com/blog-0/bid/45149/The-21st-century-classroom-where-the-3-R-s-meet-the-4-C-s
Le, T. (2015). A 21st Century School on the Cutting Edge of Learning [Slideshow]. Retrieved from: http://www.fastcodesign.com/1662762/a-21st-century-school-on-the-cutting-edge-of-learning-slideshow
OWP/P Architects, VS Furniture, & Bruce Mau Design. (2010). The third teacher: 79 ways you can use design to transform teaching & learning. Retrieved from: http://thethirdteacherplus.com/s/Ch2-TTT-for-Web-0y6k.pdf