If I could design every detail of my ideal classroom, this is how it might look!
Versatile Furniture – desks and chairs that can be rolled around the classroom to make different configurations. Separate desks for individual work, two at a table for partner work, groups of four or six for collaboration, semi-circle shape for presentations and lectures, full circle shape for class discussions, and desks at the sides of the room for large demos or activities. I would also like to have tables with adjustable heights and tables where students can stand at to do their work.
Comfortable Furniture – education is one of the last industries that doesn’t seem to care enough about the physical comfort of their “customers”. I hope to have my students up and active in my classroom, but when it’s time to sit down my students should be comfortable. As a tall student myself, the classic plastic chair-desk combo was a major source of discomfort that distracted me from learning. I think comfortable chairs (I know they exist, because I am sitting on one right now) in the classroom are a way of saying, “I respect you as humans and I understand the need to feel comfortable in my class as you learn”. I also would have a reading area with a comfortable couch and science magazines.
Technology Connection – I would like to have a classroom that has access to a computer network with a large bandwidth. I plan to use school computers/laptops/iPads/etc. from time to time, but mostly I would encourage students to bring and use their own devices. I would want a large bandwidth so that we would be able to use the Internet throughout the whole day without the typical wait time you expect with school networks. In my experience, the wait time can effectively render the Internet and tech devices useless!
Technology – I hope to use a Smart board (or equivalent) and an iPad (or equivalent) as a remote way for the class to interact with the Smart board. I plan to bring and use my own technology as well (smart phone, iPad, etc.) to demonstrate how to use this technology to learn. I also want to get a good quality slow motion camera for my physics classes, so that we can observe quick phenomena in science (vibration of guitar strings, projectile motion, etc.)
Things on the wall and in the class – I plan to put my student’s work on the wall. I really would like to have a showcase display (maybe a full wall’s worth) for projects that the students do throughout the semester. If this showcase could be in the hallway or the cafeteria where more students could view it, that would be even better. I would also like to steal the idea of the POE (Predict Observe Explain) that we did in ESCI350. These are small displays with experiments that students can follow to discover cool scientific concepts. As mentioned above, I would also have a reading area with science magazines, puzzles, gyroscopes, etc.
Blogging – I plan to create a class blog for each class (maybe just one for my first year) that I teach. This blog will be used to document student learning and to showcase student achievements. In future years, I would like to have each of my students create their own blog to document and showcase their own learning.
Others – There are many other parts of the classroom environment and philosophy of teaching that I have opinions on. 🙂 But I would like people to actually read what I post, so I will stop here. In future posts I hope to share my thoughts on lighting, acoustics, HVAC issues, student involvement in choosing indicators, project-based learning, inquiry learning, formative and summative assessments, grading, use of rubrics, interaction with other classes, independent study, the new Saskatchewan curriculum, differentiated instruction, etc. Stay tuned.