Make Prototyping the Norm in Every Classroom

Using a domino effect, growing from one room to the entire school, teachers and students can change their physical learning spaces.

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Reading this article about classrooms at the Hillbrook School, I started to think about whether every school could implement something similar. Like Hillbrook, each school could start with just one room (check out their iLab), one space that is already conducive to flexibility and ideally has moveable furniture. By allowing both students and teachers to use the room and test different ways to arrange the space and conduct a class, they could become more comfortable with changing the learning environment and allowing students to take ownership of the space. Their experiences and discoveries could be documented in a digital portfolio or blog, including teacher, student, and administrative observations and contributions, allowing for more dialogue and reflection about how changing the space can also affect teaching and learning and the mindsets and culture of the classroom. 

Then, mid-year or to launch the next school year, teachers could be encouraged to volunteer to turn their own classrooms into more flexible spaces that serve as prototypes for the year of how to use different materials (e.g., writable tables and walls) and furniture (e.g., soft seating, wobble seats) with different ages and subject areas. Similar to the first room, the experiences of each volunteer teacher and their students could be documented in a blog/portfolio and used as a prompt for further reflection and change the next year, eventually leading to each room of the school becoming a more dynamic, agile, and responsive learning environment. This shift could create a change in the entire culture of the school to be more biased towards action (from phsycially changing rooms to changing pedagogy) and towards student-driven learning and empowered teachers who seek to better understand students and innovate in response. 

I think this model could scale to a district level as schools that have already piloted it could share their documentation portfolios and learnings and over time, be combined with other schools' learnings and then a district could share their learnings and advice with another district, ideally creating a domino effect. 

Current survey to collect data about what teachers would want in this space and how it would be used:


Evaluation results

7 evaluations so far

1. Potential for Impact: Imagine this solution had near perfect implementation. To what extent would this solution bring about a culture of innovation within a school or classroom?

A lot! This solution would greatly bring about a culture of innovation in schools or classrooms. - 85.7%

Somewhat. This solution would somewhat bring about a culture of innovation in schools or classrooms. - 14.3%

Not much. This solution might help with other things, but I don't see it really bringing about a culture of innovation within schools or classrooms. - 0%

2. Feasibility and Fit: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: If this solution were available to me right now, I would be able to use it with relatively low investment. (i.e. money, time, or skills).

Strongly agree (this solution strongly aligns to my/my school's current capacities). - 57.1%

Agree. - 14.3%

Neutral. - 0%

Disagree. - 28.6%

Strongly disagree (this solution would take a big lift in resources to pull off). - 0%

3. Adaptability: I could imagine this solution working well in a variety of school and classroom contexts across a diverse set of needs.

Absolutely! I could see this working for a variety of schools and classrooms with different or unique needs. - 57.1%

Somewhat. I could see this working for many schools and classrooms, but it might need some adjusting to fit a broad diversity of contexts. - 42.9%

Not a lot. This seems like it might be better suited to only a few contexts. - 0%

4. Scalability: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: This idea could be adopted by an ever-growing number of teachers or students without requiring significant changes.

Strongly agree (this solution could easily scale without any significant changes). - 42.9%

Agree. - 14.3%

Neutral. - 14.3%

Disagree. - 14.3%

Strongly disagree (this solution would require significant changes in order to properly scale). - 14.3%

5. Desirability: Do you wish this solution were available to you right now?

1 - Not a lot. There's not a big need for this right now and/or we use something already that fulfills a similar purpose in my school or classroom. - 0%

2 - 0%

3 - 42.9%

4 - 14.3%

5 - A lot! There's nothing like this already and I'd love to have it in my school or classroom. - 42.9%


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Photo of Cynthia Blair Tognotti

Check out our new school at Oracle
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: View "A campus within Oracle’s campus?" article at

Photo of Margaret Powers

Wow, that looks like an amazing school Cynthia Blair Tognotti Thanks for sharing! 

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