Wednesday, March 31, 2010

This is Our Classroom

Welcome to our classroom. Pardon the mess... we've been busy.















Our room is a large semi-industrial studio. The students in the foreground are sitting in our Blogger's Lounge while in the distance, two students are projecting student work and leading a peer review session, and to the right a cluster of students have a chat session around a table to plan for their presentation; two more groups hang in our mini Mac lab just to the left of where this picture is cropped.

We're a 1:1 school and all of the students have Tablet PCs. You'll notice the two cameras as well in the picture below; that's because we share this room with @schickbob and his fantastic TV and Film students; this area doubles as a soundstage for student-directed video and TV as well as a blackbox theatre during in-class student productions and performances. We've also got exposed rafters and a nice semi-mobile mounted lighting system that we use to give productions that authentic feel.











Here's our larger than life-sized class Twitter feed projected up on the wall. Students use this for everything from chatting and sharing ideas and links to organizing bibliographies and resources via hashtags.

During the class session when we shot these pics, the students were peer reviewing outlines and rough drafts of academic essays. Each group rotated into the middle of the room at some point during the class to post their work on the big screen and present their arguments. They used Twitter to organize their group efforts and they presented all of their work via Blogger.

Each student has his or her own Blogger account. The students keep all classwork as well as all notes and long-term assignments on their blogs, so by the end of a semester they have a complete portfolio of work. Students write daily blogposts on questions gathered from our crowdsourced wiki-syllabus; the best writing goes up on our public class blog.


With the exception of the sofa, everything in our room is either on wheels or light enough to easily move around. As a teacher, I've found that to be key. The more flexible your space, the more engaging your classroom.

And there's the authenticity piece. Life isn't an orderly row of desks. I want my students to own their room and be able to adapt it to their needs.

23 comments:

  1. What a great room for doing interactive, collaborative, interesting work!

    I love it.

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  2. Brilliant.

    As someone who spends time both as a HS English teacher (constantly pushing the boundaries of what a traditional classroom 'space' will allow) and someone who works professionally with architects around the world to design schools, I can tell you that you've inspired me.

    And you've given me a lovely case study to share with both clients and colleagues alike.

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  3. I'm presently reading Disrupting Class by Clayton M. Christensen and I think that your classroom fits his idea of what most classrooms in the future will look like.

    Maryanne Burgos
    http://eduwebtools.blogspot.com

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  4. The key is that you are all connected and could be anywhere and still do this....learning is meant to be free....stop calling is a "classroom"!!

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  5. This is my favorite post on Teach Paperless. The room that you have been given, share and invented is truly inspiring. Thank you for posting pictures.

    I just found out that I am moving rooms next year into a room that is half room, half science lab. I've been brainstorming was to make it effective. I'm seeing the lab as a lounge. Bar stools, pillows on the bar/lab/counter thing. Lots of lamps. True work spaces.

    Again, thanks!

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  6. This is a dream room. I teach in an old, old school building--BUT--we're "getting" a new school in about four years. I will keep your classroom design/ set-up in mind as I think about how to best structure my future classroom. I want a space that encourages creativity and collaboration. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Call it a classroom, its not just semantics to me. A classroom is a place where a community gathers for the purpose of learning. It is a classroom instead of something else because it is specifically structured to facilitate learning. There are certainly good classrooms and bad classrooms, traditional classrooms and innovative classrooms. Just because this is an innovative space with "thin walls" does not make it any less a classroom. This is not reinventing education, this is an exemplar of what an effective classroom environment can be if the tools and facility are provided.

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  8. Just found this and it looks absolutely fantastic to me... can you contextualise it though? Where are you? Who are your students? What are they trying to learn? Cheers, though, and I really admire what you are doing.

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  9. This is an incredible classroom you have set up. How have you gathered all of the special furniture in your room?
    I teach in a classroom that is separated from the next room by a thin partition wall, so it would be hard to set up something like you have here (noise, lack of a real wall, etc.). But I can dream, can't I? Oh, what I could do with your setup and a one to one classroom. Thanks for inspiring me!

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  10. Wow!! Thank you for sharing.. you have inspired me to think more about how I will set up my classroom at my new school next year. Wonderful!

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  11. What an amazing environment for your students. Does the Twitter feed generally stay on topic of what's being studied?

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  12. @Rob

    We are actually using it right now as I comment to check work from a translation quiz. Students are helping one another and we're creating a collection of common mistakes, questions, and solutions.

    Generally, the kids are really good about staying on topic on the feed. But they've been using it since day one and are used to it.

    Shelly

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  13. @Chad

    The couch was a hand-me-down. Most of the tables and chairs were things other people didn't want.

    We also have a studio control room full of hand-me-down and second-hand electronics that @schickbob uses with kids to produce the news and that I use with my Fine Arts kids to produce audio.

    Shelly

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  14. Love your space. It is so homey and full of learning and socializing. It is amazing what you have done and how the class must benefit from this type of learning experience that is authentic and purposeful

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  15. Very impressive! Wish every school district had the funds to have something similar to this!

    Its great that the kids have the opp to develop an online portfolio, which is so easily accessible.

    Great Job!

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  16. Wow. I'm teaching in Ireland - I don't even have a computer in the classroom and am just at the start of trying to use a data projector in the classroom! I feel gloomy but inspired by the distance between where I'm at and what you've achieved. Great stuff.

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  17. Very cool classroom! I wish I could study in a place like this, not on the "ordinary row of desks".

    Great Job!

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  18. Wow thats a dream classroom. The schools in my community are just learning how to use smart boards effectively. Do you have any resources that you could suggest?

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  19. I'm curious if you have any ideas or resources for how to go paperless when not every student has a computer to use (some not at school or at home). In this situation, I can see reducing paper, but I can't visualize how a paperless classroom would work.

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  20. This is the coolest thing I have ever seen..

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