Saturday, December 07, 2013

Making Classrooms Work

So here we are in the 21st Century and still stuck with 18th century schoolrooms and 19th century desks.

I've been exploring different seating arrangements for groups, and still like the easy mobility of wheeled chairs, central gathering places, and ways to quickly create breakouts of small groups that can still see the teacher/board and report back without too much furniture noise.

This younger children's class (described by Amy Spies at TeachingChannel  shows a nice option using the furniture at hand:

The groups of four are open-ended at the side facing the teacher/board, and the space between the desks holds a 3-drawer cabinet with supplies like paper, pencils and crayons:

SteelCase offers a much higher tech option, adopted at the U of Oregon's Yamada Language Lab, that is sleek and classy. Three boards/projection screens allow students sitting in any direction to see what is happening. The teacher is no longer fronting the class--at least in theory--though the computer/projector now seems to be the center:

What students have to say about it is very interesting:
From the Steelcase video

With the flipped classroom, the projection multiplication may be a bit of overkill, but at least there is a strong move to put students' heads together.