Learning Spaces

1/2 Orange Learning Space

 

I love getting creative in my classroom and developing a learning space where students feel welcome and inspired.  I always have lots of bright colours and lots of student work on display.  It is, after all, their learning space, and I’d like them to have ownership of it.

My experiences in Early Childhood settings have encouraged me to design a learning space that has lots of smaller spaces or ‘nooks’ where learning can happen.  I worked with two amazing EC teachers who blog over at Inspired EC, and have an incredible learning space.  @neilfara has been one of my inspirations.  His work with secondary students creating working learning spaces where students want to be is just amazing.  I’ve also been doing some reading on learning spaces, inspired by @EduSum.  Today I read about this amazing Swedish classroom.  It would be a dream to teach and learn in.  Unfortunately, I don’t have an endless budget to create my learning space.

In the classroom, I like to have an investigation table with something intriguing on it, usually based on the interests of the students and for independent discovery.  I also like to create a comfy reading corner with lots of cushions.  There’s nothing better than curling up on a cushion with a good book.  The classroom always evolves as the students grow and change throughout the year.

Moving schools this year has been a great opportunity for me to clear out some of the resources I am no longer using and get rid of a lot of junk.  I moved from a classroom with a massive storage cupboard to one with very little storage space, so a clean out was a must!  In my new classroom I faced an even bigger challenge in that none of my storage shelves were movable.  All of the shelves and cupboards are fixed to the walls, making it really difficult for me to make the space my own.

I’m not a fan of clutter in classrooms.  I like things to be put away in their place, preferably where they can’t be seen.  For this reason, I have had to invest in some sparkly fabrics to cover the shelving. There is still a place for everything, but the clutter is hidden.

Uncluttered Storage

I’ve had to be quite creative with the furniture in the room.  I’ve managed to make a small reading area with lots of comfy cushions and a shelf with photo frames.  These will eventually have photos of the students, or photos they have taken.

Reading Corner

 

I am very lucky to have the connected classroom equipment in my learning space.  My students will be able to connect with peers throughout the NSW DEC network.  Such opportunities will continue to broaden their learning experiences and their understanding of their global presence.

Connected Classroom

You’ll notice in this photo that my desk is tucked away in the corner behind the mobile whiteboard.  I very rarely sit at my desk during the day, so it’s not important for the room to be visible from it.

 

 

I’m looking forward to seeing how the children work in this space, whether they fit comfortably, or whether we need to make changes.

What does your learning space look like?  How do you organise it to work with your students?

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12 thoughts on “Learning Spaces

  1. Just love the name of your Blog Sarah ! What a great description for a learners “thinking face”. Your new space looks wonderful and reminds me of how much I will actually miss having my own space this year. I really like your reading corner.High school classrooms are interesting because you have to think of ways to make the space inviting to a range of classes ! In my room we didn’t have as much space and we just moved the tables and sat on the floor when we wanted to read. I had lots of moveable storage, a whiteboard, IWB, fixed to the wall, with little choice to configure. Desks were in groups but students would move to anywhere that suited their purpose e.g IWB, corner, floor,power supply, outside. We had designated wall space for each class and displayed work, art, scaffolds, metalanguage/ Key vocab or the class individual goal board for the term- usually student organised. I love colour. Each year I liked to save a favourite representation from English and hang it on the wall, these had been getting higher and higher 🙂 up the walls but usually sparked curiosity. Photocopy paper boxes were my best friend :), labelled for different class topic resources or student gear. One feature I loved were the bi-fold doors that separated the classroom next door because you could open it up for different learning experiences if needed. I team taught lots with a colleague and it was not unusual for students to move between rooms across the corridor during lessons. Have fun in your new space , it sure looks like you will !

    • Thanks Carla! I always forget how challenging a secondary learning space must be. I have the same kids in the room all day everyday which makes it easy to set routines and systems etc. I admire the way you create a space that belongs to each group who use the room… ownership of the space is so important!!

  2. Great start and lucky students!!

    I just love the cushion corner and idea for nooks in the classroom.

    I have been on a similar journey in regards to classrom design and innovation based on current educational trends and learning theories.

    For me this year, I’m wanting to be bold, out of the box and trial ideas my colleagues are talking about-

    I’m taking out all tables, well perhaps leaving a couple small floor round ones. Instead I’m having collaboration corners, iPads, cushions, notebooks, art spaces, yoga mats, and neutral colours to avoid over stimulation- perhaps colours from the Steiner palate.

    Anyway they are a couple of my ideas tinkering around my head at the moment. I am influenced by the Reggio Emilio philosophy – http://progressiveearlychildhoodeducation.blogspot.com/2010/05/beautiful-learning-spaces-in-reggio.html

    Would love to keep in touch and unpack our #changechallenge project later in the year. What worked/what didn’t/what we learned.

    I’m encouraging my PLN to try and disrupt their own practice to this year. For 365 days I will upload my valued PLN’s most thought prevoking tweets. My aim is to get you all thinking about your own practices, philosophies and pedagogies. By the years end, my hope is that at least one of these tweets have enticed you to action change no matter how small. 

    Follow, join the momentum, hashtag #changechallenge, question, interrogate, agitate, disrupt, discuss, disagree, critique, think or trial.

    Kind regards and keep innovating!

    Jasmine Dwyer

    • It seems we are on a very similar journey. I’m starting to question how and why I do things in the classroom. Whether I’m doing them for some educational purpose, or whether I’m doing them just because that’s what teachers do. Looking forward to keeping in touch with your journey as well.

  3. I love your reading space with all the bright cushions etc. You’ve motivated me! I’m heading into school today to start setting up my learning space.

    Well done on your blog – I found it on Maang this morning and I really like what you are doing here. I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops over time.

  4. Great use of space! I especially love your reading corner – mine has some small beanbags that kids love to share while reading, but you could almost lose yourself in that cushion pile!

    Tell us about your investigation table – what kinds of things have you put on it in the past? When do kids get to go and investigate?

    • The investigation table has interest-based items on it. In the past I have had insects, dinosaurs and zoo animals on it. Usually I create a bit of a playscape with the animals and a piece of fabric, crepe paper or similar. I always put some related books there as well, either information texts or fictional stories. The children often contribute to what’s on the table with the things they bring from home as well…..

  5. Just a quick drop by!
    Love the reading space. The cushions are great. I have some in my room with all school patterns on the material.
    I want to be in my classroom so very badly right now – Changes will have to wait until early in the term. It will be fun to work on the classroom with the students already using the space.

    Great work on the Blog – I found it on Twitter and will continue to pop by …. and maybe even one day bet started on my own……

    Thank you for sharing!

  6. Love the responses to this post Sarah, it lets you know that you are not alone and there is a ‘educational value’ to your actions. Hope i get to visit your ‘house’ one day! Where did the letters come from? and how much? Thinking of getting my students to identify 6 key words and gluing them all over our ‘house’.

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