Classroom Tour 2015

Last summer, I posted a classroom tour. I had all my technology in place, but besides that, the room was quite empty. Since then, the furniture I ordered last year arrived and my space has been transformed. I figured it was high time for an update.

Before picking out anything, I spent a lot of time thinking about the atmosphere I wanted in my room. I wanted students to be comfortable, inspired and productive.

I spoke with a few of my classes and their ideas for the space were very clear. Comfort was incredibly important to them. And why not? I certainly want to be comfortable when I’m working. My discussions with them confirmed that I should trust my gut – a space *I* would want to work in is a space they would want to work in.

I wanted pieces that were functional but flexible. They needed to work with a variety of tech tools, facilitate collaboration, allow for student choice in work space (standing vs sitting vs laying down), and balance comfort with durability and practicality.

I was highly inspired by “library 2.0” learning spaces, what I’d experienced as a student at the post-secondary level, and to some degree, even Starbucks. I drooled for a long time over the EDU 2.0 line from Bretford, but ultimately went for something simpler and less expensive. All products were from our board’s approved vendor listing.

Despite getting out the blueprints and mapping things the best I could, it was challenging to pick out furniture for the space and try to visualize it all in my room.  I was really pleased when it all came together almost exactly as I hoped.

Entrance from the hallway & a display celebrating the views on our YouTube channel:

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Straight ahead immediately inside the door – a storage area, where we keep our sets of mobile technology that classrooms can sign out:
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Turn to the left and you enter the classroom:

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From this angle, a panoramic view of the space:

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Overall, it has a variety of work spaces and a variety of self-serve tools – both low and high tech. Students are free to chose where they work, whether they stand, sit or lay down, and what tools they will use to accomplish their goals. I let them choose whether they will work alone, in pairs or in groups. It is rare that all students are working on the same task at the same time.

Here are some close-ups of some of the details of the space:

Where this space really shines is during nutrition breaks (or energy breaks, as they’re known at our school). Students elect to come to the space to work in one of six main areas: lego robotics, lego mechanics, video production, photography, web development and coding. This was one break today:
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Here are some more pictures of the space in action:

 

EDIT: I could not resist adding a picture from our busiest tech club yet. We had over 60 students across all grade levels working independently on a huge variety of their own initiatives. It looks like chaos, but it was amazing. A quick thumbs up/thumbs down poll at the end told me the students thought so, too!

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7 thoughts on “Classroom Tour 2015

  1. hpennie says:

    Your classroom is exactly what I have been hoping for. I have put in a budgets proposal but am still waiting to hear from our Board…and waiting, and waiting. Love your blog!

    • Ms. Armstrong says:

      Fingers crossed for you! It took a long time to get the space from proposal to finished project – waiting is hard 🙂

  2. kimmeroo says:

    I LOVE this space. I’m a new grade 6 teacher, and just got into my classroom today. Although inspired by your class, I’m limited to what I have to work with. A smaller room with 27 desks, and low shelving around 2 of the walls

    Are there any tips to share, or resources you can point me towards, regarding things like colour scheme (bulletin boards are already blue with colourful borders), seating organization, and key ‘zones’ to include? I definitely want a reading/library nook… also was thinking about a tech centre, but I think most technology is shared throughout the school… space is limited, but what would you suggest prioritizing?

    For what it’s worth I’m teaching French, science, and social studies in grade 6 immersion.

    Thanks!! Learning a lot from your blog!

    • Ms. Armstrong says:

      Thank you 🙂

      If it’s possible, I’d trade in the desks to give you more space and see if you can get tables instead – but that may or may not be possible for you. If you do have to keep them, group them up however you can to maximize the space you have leftover. Creating a variety of workspaces is key. Are there places where it’s easy to work with a group? Places where it’s easy to access supplies? Places where learning materials can be put out in an inviting way? Places to lay down or get comfy? Spaces to stand? If you can work in variety and focus on functionality, you’re on the right track.

      As for colour scheme, I do think that less is more. My goal is to have the space feel like a living room as much as I can. Little lamps, plants, picture frames and a “pulled together” colour scheme (meaning, keep it consistent throughout the space) can go a long way.

      Getting your hands on tech you can have in your room is preferable. Ask your admin what might be possible from the school’s perspective and encourage BYOD from the students’ end. Plan ahead for power needs for students & how charging might work. For me, the tech isn’t confined to any one area (though desktops are) but able to be used flexibly wherever – laptops and iPads easily move around. They do have designated “home bases” though for charging.

      Check out http://manitoulinteacher.blogspot.ca to see another classroom transformation you may get ideas from 🙂 Another really unique space I stumbled across recently is http://pintodiner.homestead.com – a grand theme may not be for everyone but I love how the variety of working spaces (bar, tables, booths, floor) work together.

      • kimmeroo says:

        Thank you! I don’t think that getting rid of the desks is an option, but I will see what I can do about rearranging them to make room for a variety of workspaces. I definitely want my reading zone to have some alternative seating, and would like room for at least one table for collaborative work.

        I agree with you on colour scheme – for simplicity I’m going to stick with the existing blue backgrounds, will reconsider the colourful borders that are currently up, and will look for blues and whites for the innumerable bins I need to get! There are lots of primary coloured coverings on the windows, but I don’t think removing them is really an option (there’s basically a wall of windows, so the upper ones have been covered…). I’ll have to make sure I really think the colour scheme through before going shopping.

        I’ll have to feel out the tech situation. How much there is, how much others use it, whether BYOD is a viable option… (it’s my first year teaching, so I’m a newbie to the school). I think I’m losing my smartboard to another teacher, but I read your post about using an ipad etc essentially as a smartboard so will be looking into that! I don’t want to get rid of paper entirely because I think there’s something unique about physically writing, but I do want to move towards a more paper-free environment, integrating technology,

        And thanks for the links – I look forward to checking them out!

        Cheers,

        Kim

        ps I did actually teach part time for the second half of the year last year – core French! I wish I’d known about your program then 🙂

        • Ms. Armstrong says:

          As techy as I am, I love brainstorming on paper 🙂 I always have low tech supplies available to those who want it in my classroom too. And yeah, don’t stress over the smart board – as long as you have a projector, you’re set! Best of luck with your year. I’m sure your space will evolve over time – it took two years for mine to come together and this upcoming year I’m switching a few things up yet again! Let me know how it goes – would love to see pics at some point 🙂

          • kimmeroo says:

            Yes, paper and pencil will always be an integral part of the creative process for me! Having a mix of materials is definitely a good approach.

            I took some pics of the ‘start,’ but I don’t think I can post them in a comment. Basically the walls have a lot of blue, and then some other bright colours on the windows and borders (quite a bit of red). For all the accessories I need to get I think I’ve narrowed down a colour theme to blue + white + black. This position is a 1 year LTO, so I want the money I invest myself to be on things I can take with me when I leave… Neat ideas I’ve come across like a whiteboard wall will have to either be funded by the school or not happen this year.

            Without the pics you can’t see the desks either… right now they’re arranged in two long ‘pods.’ I’m thinking about rearranging them into 7 groups of 4 and seeing if that can free up some space at the back. I’d like to make room for one reading/working zone with some beanbag chairs, etc., and one table.

            I’ve waffled on how to integrate tech in a meaningful way, and I like how you described having students be creators of content, more so than consumers of content. Verbalized my muddy thoughts well.

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