Bringing It All Together: Classroom Design

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_MG_2577It has been a whirlwind six week experience in the MAET program at Michigan State University!  I have learned a great deal while making lasting connections with some tremendous educators.  Throughout the past month and a half, I have stretched myself outside of my comfort zone, and you know what?  I like it.  I feel re-energized and excited to put all that I’ve learned thus far into my current teaching practice.

Recently, I read an article by Thomas L. Friedman called, “It’s the P.Q. and C.Q. as Much as I.Q.”. He discusses how there has been a shift in the skills necessary to succeed.  Specifically, he writes that it’s no longer enough to have a high I.Q.  In addition, one must have a strong Passion Quotient (P.Q.) that drives you and a powerful Curiosity Quotient (C.Q.) which propels you forward.  “The winners won’t just be those with more I.Q. It will also be those with more P.Q. (passion quotient) and C.Q. (curiosity quotient)…” (Friedman, 2013).  This article has prompted me to think about how my ideal classroom design supports my own P.Q. and C.Q. and how it encourages the development of my students’ passion and curiosity.

Passion Quotient (P.Q)

Passion plays a vital role in my work as an educator.  I am passionate about allowing opportunities for students to collaborate and improve their teamwork skills.  When my students leave my classroom, not only do I want them to have learned the content, but I also want them to feel confident in their ability to work constructively with others and be passionate about it as well.  They will not learn this lifelong skill if they are never afforded the opportunity to practice it.   

desksFor this reason, my classroom design must be a space in which collaboration is made easy. I want students to be able to move around and regroup themselves when necessary.  This is why I’d like individual tables and chairs that can easily be manipulated.  This allows students to shift into different sized groups when necessary, a large semi circle for discussion, or pairs for more one on one conversation.  Why confine them to the groups I set?  Learning is flexible and so should the space it takes place in.  

comfortable learning spaceI am also very passionate about making sure students are working in a comfortable space.  I always say that our class is a family and I want our classroom to feel like home.  Should I make students stay in their desk all day because that’s the way it’s always been? No.  I am passionate about offering different spaces for students to work.  This allows for even more collaboration and greater productivity.  Therefore, along with desks, I have incorporated different sized tables, stools, a couch and carpet area, cushions, exercise balls for students who prefer to sit on those, and soft lighting by adding lamps around the room. 

laptop stationTechnology is also a huge passion of mine.  In my ideal classroom each student would have an iPad.  Since iPads are so mobile, this seamlessly fits with my desire to have students work in a variety of spaces at any given time. I would also like there to be several screens around the room that students and I can share information on.  This way, not all students are struggling to see just one screen.  I have also included two movable laptop stations for students to use if their content will not load on an iPad.  These can also be cleared of the laptops and used as collaboration stations too.  To me, versatility is key.  

Curiosity Quotient (C.Q.)

By having iPads available to students at all times, I will be able to do continuous whole group digital activities, have students share findings with others, as well as delve into individual projects to fulfill their curiosity.  They will be able to reach out to their PLN and work on refining their internet navigation skills.  I want students to take ownership of their learning.  With this type of purposeful classroom setup, it shifts the focus from the teacher to the students.  I am not the center of attention, but rather a guide on the side.  With this inquiry approach, students are learning to question, try, fail, revise, and try again.  TPACK suggests that the sweet spot of learning is where technology, pedagogy, and content overlap (Mishra & Koehler, 2009).  By having these technological resources easily accessible and this classroom set-up, I will be able to focus on the content and integrate appropriate modes of technology meaningfully.

makerspaceIf students feel comfortable, they are often more willing to take risks.  Risk-taking is key in being curious and curiosity drives the learning process.  When students are interested in what they’re learning, they’re more willing to persist.   I want to afford my students the opportunity to create, explore, and discover in a safe environment.  This is why I would also include a small makerspace in my classroom.  

I am always curious about my students’ learning styles and what type of learning environment works best for them.  By offering these diverse types of work spaces and opportunities for collaboration, my own curiosity is being satisfied.  I am able to observe how each of my students learn best and ultimately use that knowledge to help them go even farther in their learning.  As Loris Malaguzzi said, ““There are three teachers of children: adults, other children, and their physical environment” (79 Flashcards).  Through this classroom arrangement, I believe you could walk in and see all three of these teachers at work.

classroom sketch 2

References:

Friedman, T. L. (2013) It’s P.Q. and C.Q as much as I.Q. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/opinion/friedman-its-pq-and-cq-as-much-as-iq.html?_r=0

Malaguzzi, L. 79 Flashcards. The Third Teacher. Retrieved from https://missbwhitaker.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/7376f-tttideasflashcards.pdf

Mishra, P. & Koehler. M. J. (2009). Too cool for school? No way! Using the TPACK framework: You can have your hot tools and teach with them, too. Learning & Leading with Technology, 36(7), 14-18

Classroom images created using SketchUp Make

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