After having talked to a lot of people about the way we approach teaching and learning in my department, I thought it would be useful to put up some photos of the learning spaces which are built with the core concepts of collaboration, technology and thinking in mind. Our new build was constructed out of a necessity as the local middle schools closed and we moved from a three to two tier system in Northumberland. Luckily, the school had been developing our thinking around learning spaces for a number of years and have been refurbishing rooms in the older building for several years, thus honing the design for the new build. So, are these rooms classrooms or learning spaces? I always think one sounds a bit too much of an edugeek when one talks about learning spaces but lets face it, I am an edugeek so no apologies. Moreover, a classroom is designed with a class in mind (i.e. the logistical concept of 30 bodies filling a room - as if the whole were more important than the individual). Learning spaces are exactly that - spaces which have been designed to promote good learning and to allow learning to be personalised to each individual student.
Exhibit A - we have round tables - no rows. Why? Very simply it obliges students to work together - there is an Arthurian equality to the tables which encourages students to work as teams. Obviously, this does not always work but it does mean that it is easy to facilitate. Whatsmore, the furniture is around the outside of the room (bar the two moveable central tables) which means that the space can be used flexibly for rehearsal, presentation, role play etc.
As you can see, we have two computers (or two laptops) per table - i.e. a 2:1 student to computer ratio. The fact that we have invested in this ratio across the school rather than having computer suites with 30 computers means that we have been able to integrate technology as a staple in our schemes of learning rather than a bolt on approach when we can access the computer suite.
We have display in the classroom that we constantly refer to - our learning wall, with De Bono's thinking hats, our 5Rs (the attributes we expect our students to demonstrate). We also refer to Anderson's Revised Taxonomy (a 2005 revision of Bloom's taxonomy) and promote progression through higher order thinking skills.
So how would you design your learning space if you could start from scratch? What would your core concepts be? Please comment below!