Are you using your classroom space to full advantage?
In September, we engaged in four demonstration lessons on co-constructing criteria. As we worked alongside the teachers of an elementary and junior high school, we planned the lessons and we considered the physical layout of each classroom. We asked, “How might we best to use the space to meet our instructional goals?”
We all knew we wanted:
- Students to feel our presence with no distractions,
- To feel the presence of our students, so their energy could inspire our teaching,
- Students and teacher to feel part of and to be part of a community of learners,
- No physical barriers between students, so that they could easily and quickly turn and talk and think together,
- No barriers between teacher and learners, so that we could easily listen to their conversations and make moment-by-moment instructional decisions.
We wanted this, both physically and symbolically, in some part of each lesson – no matter the grade level, the subject area, or the specific content.
A meeting or gathering space where learners can come together drives collaboration and ideas in classrooms. It is an essential part of the learning environment from K-12. Tweet this
In many early years classrooms, this was typically accomplished with a brightly coloured carpet in a designated area of the classroom – a place where the whole class could come together.
The carpet works beautifully in this function. So why do carpets disappear in older grades? Are we giving up that gathering place too soon?
After all, as teachers know, it is more than a carpet. It is a way to use the environment to create a learning advantage – a learning advantage that emerges when we build community, inspire each other, and meet instructional goals.
We have learned from teachers how to create a “carpet” wherever we go – K to 12 to adult – so that the environment supports the learning.
You can create the carpet effect in K-12 classrooms in a number of interesting ways. Tweet this
For some spaces, it means having students move their chairs into a part of the room and create an ‘inside-outside’ circle. And for others, it means creating two or three lines of chairs in a semi-circle around an instructional area.
Regardless of the configuration and in spite of the lack of an actual carpet, teachers can gather students away from their desks, in order to create powerful learning-teaching spaces.
Want more ideas on what to do once you and your students have a collaborative space? Check out these resources:
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