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A Place for Learning: The Physical Environment of Classrooms

A Place for Learning: The Physical Environment of Classrooms
I was supervising a teacher who was enrolled in our program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst that focused on developing student self-knowledge, ego strength, trust and community in classrooms. We had created a manual with over 50 classroom lessons. She was teaching at a high school in an economically depressed district in northern Appalachia. She called me in a state of frustration. "I've used dozens of the exercises you guys developed, and they're not the least bit interested. There's no sense of community, and the trust level is non-existent. Students Take Ownership So I visited the class. I suggested that she ditch the exercises and work with the class to totally change the physical environment. They spent six weeks doing little else. There are at least two lessons from this story. The physical structure of a classroom is a critical variable in affecting student morale and learning. The Custodian’s Favorite Arrangement Here's a related story. More Ideas, More Resources

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/the-physical-environment-of-classrooms-mark-phillips

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Reasons and Research – Why Schools Need Collaborative Learning Spaces Creative Commons license image source We’ve converted a few classrooms to more collaborative spaces over the last few years at The College of Westchester, and faculty reaction has generally been quite positive. These initial room changes have revolved around modifying the layout of a few classrooms from the row-by-row footprint of the traditional lecture room to a more interactive, group-oriented layout of round tables. We are now looking to move towards the next iteration of this evolution by creating a technologically enabled space for collaborative learning.

Does Your Classroom Tell a Story? Do you have mystery objects that attract the curiosity of students, leading them to ask questions that foster meaningful conversations? Is your classroom visually stimulating for the students? Does it cultivate creativity, and more importantly, is it filled with objects, images, and even props that help your students learn -- even when they think they're not learning? Are You a Teacher-Leader? - Getting Smart by Susan Lucille Davis - edchat, edreform, leadership Teachers are master problem-solvers. They learn quickly to adjust on the fly as they react boldly and deftly in a moment’s response, whether to students’ endless questions about how to and what if, to the numerous disruptions blaring from a PA system, or to adapting their lesson plans because the Internet is down…again. When it comes to their own classrooms, teachers do not hesitate to meet daily obstacles and challenges head-on. It’s their job, after all.

Teach Me: Student-Led Instruction Strategies Teaching tools, tricks, and ideas are an essential component of a teacher’s ‘arsenal’ when it comes to having engaged students and strong teachable moments. The one tool that I rely heavily upon is a concept I termed as ‘Teach Me,’ though you may heard it called by other terms. Simply, the idea behind Teach Me is when the teacher lets the student teach a concept to them. 7 Learning Zones Every Classroom Must Have There are many elements to consider as you plan for the next school year. You always review critical pieces like standards, curriculum, instructional activities, and testing, but you also think about the classroom space and how to arrange desks, set up bulletin boards, and organize materials. You can bring these seemingly disconnected components together in a system of seven learning zones. The discovery, news, supplies, community, quiet, teacher, and subject area zones will help you establish routines, save time, and maintain your sanity from the first through the last days of school. 1.

Standards Increasing the effectiveness of professional learning is the leverage point with the greatest potential for strengthening and refining the day-to-day performance of educators. Standards for Professional Learning is the third iteration of standards outlining the characteristics of professional learning that lead to effective teaching practices, supportive leadership, and improved student results. Learning Forward, with the contribution of 40 professional associations and education organizations, developed the Standards for Professional Learning. (See the Standards Revision Task Force and the Standards Advisory Team.) The standards make explicit that the purpose of professional learning is for educators to develop the knowledge, skills, practices, and dispositions they need to help students perform at higher levels. Watch Stephanie Hirsh give an overview of the standards

Transforming learning with physical spaces Physical environments have a large impact on student learning, research says School leaders implement new technology initiatives and update teaching and learning goals regularly, but sometimes, the actual physical learning spaces in districts are overlooked. Today, more and more research points to the increased student achievement and engagement resulting from redesigning learning spaces to be more flexible and collaborative.

Well-designed classrooms can boost learning progress in primary school pupils by16%, new research reveals Tuesday 24 February 2015 For the first time, clear-evidence has been found that well-designed primary school classrooms can boost learning progress in reading, writing and maths. This is according to the results of the HEAD Project (Holistic Evidence and Design), funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and undertaken by The University of Salford. Published today (Wednesday 25 February 2015) in a new report - ‘Clever Classrooms’ - the research reveals how differences in the physical characteristics of classrooms, such as air quality, colour and light, can together increase the learning progress of primary school pupils by as much as 16% in a single year. Read the 'Clever Classrooms' report here Read the 4 page summary report here

Liberated Spaces: Purposeful School Design Says Goodbye to Cells and Bells After a 30-year career as a design consultant, Ron Christie joined Regina Public Schools in 2004 as the manager of planning and maintenance. His first impressions of the system’s schools took him back in time. “As soon as you walk in the door you think my god, nothing has changed since I went to elementary school and that was a long time ago,” says Mr. Christie, now general manager of educational facilities for the district. Since his first impressions, Regina and other school districts in Canada have joined a growing international movement on school design for 21st century learners. Questioning Toolkit Essential Questions These are questions which touch our hearts and souls. They are central to our lives. They help to define what it means to be human. Most important thought during our lives will center on such essential questions. What does it mean to be a good friend?

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