Remake Your Class Part 1: Planning for a Collaborative Learning Environment


>>Steve: My name is Steve Mattice,
I’m a math and science teacher here at Roosevelt Middle School. I have been teaching for
about seven years now.>>Narrator: Steve had a problem. His classroom was too
small for the 36 students who poured in and out every period. And too cramped to accommodate the
student-to-student collaboration he knew encouraged deeper learning.>>Steve: They’re extending
this knowledge when they’re working together,
they’re happier and more positive and more likely to participate. I’ve got a lot of kids
and a lot of desks. Things pile up very quickly, kids
can sort of pile up quickly in here. And the maneuverability of this
room is not always fantastic.>>Narrator: Then he met the folks
at the “Third Teacher Plus,” whose job it is to help educators
re-imagine their learning spaces. See how they all took
on the challenge of remaking Steve’s classroom to be
a home for exploration, creativity and better communication.>>Christian: Teachers around the
country will totally identify with this classroom, an incredible
number of kids and limited space. So one of the things
we’re going to be looking at is how does Steve move
around the classroom.>>I’m Christian Long, and I was
a high school English teacher for about 15 years. As a member of the “Third Teacher
Plus,” our job is to create spaces that allow the people to be remarkable students,
remarkable educators.>>Melanie: When people
think design a lot of times, they think veneer,
they think decorating. Yeah, we want it to look
better, but unless we can change and facilitate a really
productive classroom, then we’re not really
making a difference.>>I’m Melanie Kale, and I’m a
Design and Learning Strategist at the “Third Teacher Plus.” We’re going into a classroom
identifying things that work, and things that could work better. Taking a thousand dollars,
a designer’s eye, a lot of community resources. We try to match the physical
classroom environment to teaching and learning goals. In one weekend, we
hopefully realize them.>>Christian: So, Steven, tell us
a little about this classroom, how it works, how it’s laid out.>>Steve: There’s very little room
to sort of move through the middle, so I kind of stay on the outskirts
when I do have to move around. I’ve got 36 kids, plus
backpacks, books, jackets. There’s so much stuff
just within the aisles. Just trying to get through is almost
like trying to get through rush hour.>>Melanie: In your world here, what
is crucial that you have up here to be successful in class?>>Steve: I use the ELMO
or the overhead a lot. Just for more direct teaching. The ELMO is a document camera
that connects to a projector and projects anything that I’m
writing up onto the screen. It’s not a big workspace. Like obviously, I’ve got a
stool here to sort of make-do. I do “McGuiver” this stuff.>>Christian: What we’re hoping
to do here with Steven’s class is to really support this
idea of collaboration. He’s got to focus on teams, so
you see these groupings of four. But at the same time,
there’s very little room from grouping to grouping.>>Melanie: So the workshop
we ran on Monday, the goal is to get a
pulse on the students. See how they collaborate
with one another, see how they interact
with other adults. A lot of times words don’t
encapsulate what we’re thinking. So we created a gallery wall for
them to facilitate visual listening. The visual listening wall
has hundreds of photos. It can be any size, and we
give them dots to vote with. It allows us to quickly take the
pulse of what their eye is drawn to, place they want to learn in, a
place they want to hang out in, a place that just looks cool.>>Let’s hear about it.>>Student: We’d be like
learning from each other, or as like not just learning based
on one thing like from a book.>>Melanie: And what we noticed
with them is they like sitting in their groups of four,
but they want to feel like they’re a part of a whole. So in this class, we’re
considering the perimeter, we’re considering how we
can add more mobility. While we might not have a plan right
this moment, we know our priorities. To help make teachers better
designers, we ask teachers to invite critical
friends into their room. That might mean another teacher in
the same department, another teacher in a different department,
or their architect friend from down the street. We do this thing called
a solution session to create really concrete areas that
we can prioritize and make happen. This session is really
about putting some specifics on what we think can really make a
difference for your everyday life. And on Monday morning, you have
to have a classroom to teach in. We set up a big board. It kind of becomes our shared brain. It’s a place where we can visualize
all the things that we’re thinking. We identified a handful of key areas
that we were going to focus on: Display; Storage; Furniture;
Teaching Zone; Personality. And we picked those spatial areas so that we can create
concrete solutions around them. We asked Steven to
help us identify things that he thinks are going
to make a big impact.>>Student: First things that kind of caught my eye were the
teacher desk as a DJ Dashboard. The positioning of the desks,
I think, could be re-imagined. Pull the doors off the cabinets. Activate the back wall. The things that the
designers are going to do in this class have
sort of opened my eyes. The insights that they’ve
shared have made me think about things I wouldn’t
ever have thought about.

Comments 7

  • I go to this school it's still in construction

  • This looks great. I would really like this for my own classroom.

  • I"m glad to see the large TV and overhead projector are gone. I wonder why the LCD projector wasn't mounted from the ceiling to free up space for the teacher. Love the changed learning space; i can't believe the amount of natural light coming into his new classroom:)

  • I love the pictures and the students voting!

  • Collaborative group works for every subject (even physical education could use this instructional strategy

  • A lot of teachers don't believe that classroom design or set up plays a big role in educating students inside the classroom. Whether for classroom management or making the atmosphere condusive for learning, this video has proven that indeed setting up your classroom the right way will make teaching & learning effective.

  • I like the idea of a classroom which supports collaboration!

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