Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Classroom Set-up

By Kim Miklusak

I've been thinking lately about classroom design and instructional technology space: white board walls, multiple projectors, maker spaces, etc.  For example, now with 1:1 instruction and Apple TV, there is no reason for my desk to be at the front of the room.  There is no need to be tethered to a projector.  And there is no need for my students to sit in any traditional set-up.  Right now my AP English classes are set up in 6 pods of 4-5 desk, so they can collaborate.  My American Literature class is a modified U-shape, so all students can communicate with each other.

Out of curiosity today I asked my students "How should we arrange the desks in order to maximize your learning in this class."  The diversity of their answers says a lot about how they think they learn best and makes me think I need to rephrase my question based on what I think my purpose is for class.  The answers fell into three major categories: 1) some variation of rows, 2) some variation of a U-shape, and 3) some variation of pods. 

None of that is surprising.  But what did surprise me was how evenly split their answers were.  When I asked them why, they each had a reason for their design and even suggested other teachers who have a similar set-up.  They were surprised to hear that I may try out one or two of their designs (shown above).  I think too often we still arrange our classrooms the way they have always been arranged.  With 1:1 instruction, I think we need to ask ourselves the purpose of our classes and the purpose of our instruction and analyze our design (given the constraints of our space, of course) to maximize learning.

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