Skip to main content

Spaces and Places for Learning

"There is an opportunity to use design to craft a new invitation and journey for education and for learning." - David Jakes

It seems like yesterday, but it was actually two years ago when educator-now-consultant, David Jakes, led our district level workshop about designing meaningful spaces for the modern learner. After considering school climate and culture, Mr. Jakes's driving questions were, "What types of learning experiences do you want for your students? Can you design spaces that serve as invitations to inquiry and learning?" Those early conversations sparked discussions with faculty and staff, with students and their parents, and with members of our communities. In our high schools, the fruits of those conversations are becoming realities.



"Make it new - look at your space with 21st-century eyes: Does it work for what we know about learning today, or just for what we knew about learning in the past?"

Nearly a year after breaking ground, our remodeled media center opened today to the "oohs and aahs" from our students and staff. Bright colors, comfortable seating and flexible spaces invite interaction, collaboration, tinkering, and quiet reading. My new office is located in our media center, thankfully, it is also a brand new space inviting collaborative work. Still a work in progress, I've added a few touches to make my office space more inviting and interactive.

I have a mini-fridge stocked with bottled water and fresh fruit. The candy dish is out and is always filled with treats. Nothing says, "let's sit and chat" quite as well as chocolate. When I don't need razor-sharp focus, I like to listen to music. I have a Bluetooth speaker tuned to my favorite playlists; yes, I take requests. I keep puzzles and handheld games out so passers-by will stop to try the Rubik's Cube, or Ozobot. The lava lamp, well, just because it makes a cool red glow. 


These additions may seem insignificant, but I've found that touches like these make my office an inviting place to hang out. Since my current job doesn't allow me to get into classrooms with daily regularity, I consider my office like a third place, a space that influences school climate and helps build learning relationships.


I appreciate that my district has the skilled manpower and financial resources to support the creation of innovative learning spaces. I'm glad our leadership teams sought input from the variety of groups who will be using this beautiful place. I'm proud to have been a part of the planning and design of this amazing project. The results speak for themselves, our new media center is the talk of the town and will quickly become a favorite assemblage of learning spaces for our students.

Comments

Aaron Davis said…
Well done Bob on the new space. I really respect that you recognise the leadership involved in making it possible for the opportunity to occur.
penny said…
I would sit in that office with you and eat some candy at ease! I love the idea of a "third place."

Thank you also for your first post in this #Edublogs challenge which introduced me to the challenge - I am delighted with prompts like this weeks!
Sue Waters said…
Hi Robert

I like the idea of the candy dish in the office space and you must have considerably more control than me? My work colleague had a Candy Jar on her desk (next to me) that she continually replenished. Drove me crazy :( (no self control).

And you are probably saying -- Sue I raised so many important things and you got distracted by the Candy! See what I mean?

Sue
Unknown said…
Great space Robert! Loved the comment about taking requests for music played on your speaker. When I was in the classroom I ALWAYS used my speaker and played music for the kids. They always wanted to make requests and sometimes I would indulge them, but it was pretty challenging to please 30+ students with diverse musical tastes! :)
Unknown said…
Wow what a great space! I love the mini-fridge and fruit idea, also love that you take requests from students. I love to play music too, maybe that is an addition I need to make to my classroom!

Popular posts from this blog

Self-Directed vs. Self-Determined Learning; What's the Difference?

"We need to move beyond the idea that an education is something that is provided for us, and toward the idea that an education is something that we create for ourselves." - Stephen Downes In this age of abundance of information, shifting classroom pedagogy isn't nearly enough to make learning in school more relevant and authentic for the learner. Self-directed learning ( andragogy ), and self-determined learning ( heutagogy ) are the ideals necessary in making students " future ready " to live and learn in a web-connected world. While original research applied these concepts to mature learners, it has become apparent that even young children have an abundant capacity for recognizing and directing their learning. Anyone who has observed toddlers learning how to walk and talk understand the motivation and skill development that quickly develops during these processes. Considered by some to be on a learning continuum, self-directed learning, and self-determined

Board Games in the School Library: 3 Reasons Why It's a Winning Play

"Play is the highest form of research."  - Albert Einstein “Play is the work of the child.”  – Maria Montessori In our recently remodeled school media center, we have a space dedicated to active engagement in fun learning activities. Part maker space, part literacy lounge, board games are being incorporated to promote a culture of joyful learning. Whether it's a game of Rummy , Yahtzee , or Scrabble , family game night serves as a communication elixir and solidifies our domestic climate of togetherness. Shouldn't similar opportunities for interaction, challenge, and fun exist somewhere in our schools? Broken families, cultural fragmentation, and poverty are impacting opportunities for children to play. As we unpacked and tagged our new media center games, I was more disappointed than shocked by the number of students who had never played Monopoly , Boggle , or Sorry . One skeptical teacher commented, "Oh great, now we're letting students pl

The Classroom Experiment - Strategies to Promote Engagement and Learning

Dylan Wiliam is a prominent educator in the United Kingdom. His ideas and strategies are consistently mentioned in education reform circles. On an uncharacteristically quiet evening at home, I stumbled across these BBC videos, The Classroom Experiment . Although it took nearly two hours to get through the videos, I came away thinking that the teacher is certainly the most important factor in student learning, and that student learning can be improved with persistence and a willingness to become better at failure. For those folks that feel that teachers can be replaced by technology, these videos suggest otherwise. The Classroom Experiment - part 1 (58:00) The Classroom Experiment - part 2 (59:00) Dylan Wiliam at The Schools Network Conference (38:00) Here is a summary of the strategies and changes that Dylan Wiliam instituted to increase student engagement and advance student learning. No raising of hands - use Popsicle sticks, or some other mechanism to randomize th