Pop Up Classroom (What if?)

only when the students arrived class set up happened!!!

Photo of Paula Marra
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Update 2/21/17 

on  10/14/16  Pop Up Classroom was included in the Google for Education Transformation Center

https://edutransformationcenter.withgoogle.com/resource/5741673409675264

Update 3/23/16

Kalley Hoke has joined our team. She is a 1st Grade Teacher from ZIS (Zurich International School)

From Kalley:

"I began looking into engaging the students fully in setting up classroom spaces by moving (most of) the furniture to the center of our classroom after Student Led Conferences. As part of our morning routine, students shared their responses to What should we do now? Overwhelmingly, their ideas were to tidy it up or put it back. We dove into building empathy for what we need and want through a few flat chat questions and then a photo walk around the school for spaces that were of interest. Each student was limited to 15 photos. Of those 15, they chose two to share on a digital bulletin board and explain why it appealed to them. From those photos, we collected data on students top five spaces. Once we defined our priorities, students prototyped their ideas with a range of medium. After sharing and critiquing prototypes, we chose two areas to test immediately- a quiet reading area and a blocks and game zone. In an impressive amount of time for 6-7 year olds, we moved furniture and materials around to set up those two areas. After our Spring Break, we will continue a new cycle focusing on spaces for writing, and another to address the idea of "bringing the outside in" that attracted many students."

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Video Pitch

https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B7xmi5U2GtInNzA1SnhrempkTWM&usp=sharing

Update 9/5/15

Classroom waiting for the students::


Before the Students!
JAM (name of my classroom)

I prototyped today to see how to proceed with the students. I wanted to figure out how the moving of the furniture would work! My suggestion is to have everything you need readily available and to have someone with you to move the furniture around. The students can place the materials inside the shelves. We also realized that they will remember better were things go as they are the one who will place.  Next week we start all over.

Update 9/1/15

Team member Robin U describes how she implemented in Middle School, scroll down and check it out, we also have just updated the Pop Up Classroom PDF.

Update 8/31/15

If you have been wondering how to implement Pop Up Classroom in High School team member Lisa Yokana shares how she would. Scroll down and check it out, we also have just- updated the Pop Up Classroom PDF.

Update 8/30/15

Scroll down to see how Michael would implement Pop Up Classroom in his classroom and look at just-updated Pop Up Classroom PDF.

Update 8/29/15 

See below PDF of step by step Pop Up Classroom

working on video pitch

Update 8/23/15 by NYC Design Team

We decided that for the evolve phase each one of us would describe how we would proceed with our specific grades! We will be updating this post often. 

How to get this idea off the ground?

Kinder by Paula Marra:

Asking children how to lay out the classroom only makes sense if the children have a clear idea of what goes on in a classroom - and for kindergarten children, classrooms are a new experience they know very little about, at first. So, the pop-up classroom discussion needs some context. That context will come with time, but we can accelerate things by using a goal-setting exercise that gets the children thinking about why they are in a classroom and what they hope to achieve there.

The teacher should first ask the students why they think they are at school. There will be many different answers: 'because my sister comes to this school"; "because now I am a big boy"; "I don't know". At some point someone will say, “to learn to write”, and the teacher can start  to focus them on learning things at school, and on what they might learn. On a big sheet of paper, posted on the wall, the teacher should break down what learning to write involves (the separate skills - letter formation, left to right...), and do the same with the other (major) subjects. This results in a kind of timeline plan for learning through the year - a work plan or list of goals (see prototype picture).

Timeline
Timeline

With that discussion having happened first (at least, the first phase of it), we involve the children in designing the classroom layout: what areas the room should be divided into, the furniture and wall posters/active boards/etc. required in each, accommodations to the needs of the children in general (e.g., heights of the wall posters) and of particular children (e.g., standing desks, quiet/focus spaces - for example, kindergarten students said they would like a “Flow Area” for students who don’t want to be interrupted in their work for snack/break time, and a “Chill Area” for when they just need a minute.

The layout conversation may need quite a bit of teacher guidance in kindergarten, and may need to happen more than once during the year. For example, the teacher may humor a not-entirely-practical idea the students have (especially in kindergarten, where imaginations are vivid and practical experience limited), then later ask them to discuss whether that idea is really working.

By the way, the “why are we here” discussion can also be revisited. In the middle of the year the teacher and students can review the goals and tick off what they have achieved, and they can do it again toward the end of the year, by which time nearly everything can be checked. Then, the teacher can turn the page around and show that the name of the next grade (J1, in this case) is written there - the students are all ready to move on!  (I have done this over the years.)

3rd Grade by Michael Schurr

By third grade, students have already experienced, on average, five years of school and are beginning to truly view their role at school as a learner. For some this happens earlier, for some a bit later, but the average student understands that they come to school to learn.  In many cases, students view the teacher as the holder of all knowledge. Why wouldn’t they. Teachers traditionally set up the classroom in advance of students arrival, making the assumption that “teacher knows best.”

But what if the year started with students deciding what they feel is needed to be successful:

Start with “What if” questions. “What do you like/dislike  about school? What do you like/dislike about previous classrooms? What do you think you will need to feel comfortable and confident when learning new material?

Next, use student feedback to create teams of students to sketch or build prototypes of what the classroom could look like. Everything from placement of furniture, class library, art supplies, teacher desk, etc..  Using the prototypes, students will provide feedback  using the “I like, I wish, What if” protocol.

Then vote on the best ideas which will lead to a prototype classroom. As a class, set up the classroom based off of favorite ideas.

After a few weeks of living in the space, conduct another feedback session where students discuss what is working, what isn’t, what they would change and what they would keep the same. Again use the, “I like, I wish, What if” protocol.  This process will continue throughout the year as the demands of the third grade curriculum change and evolve.

4th Grade by Richard Brehl

Start with a discussion about why we come to school (similar to Kinder, above). Brainstorm about ways we learn. Try to lead them to key ideas such as: learning is about what we don’t know, experimenting and trying new things, making mistakes are how we learn. Getting out of our comfort zone. Learning alone and with others. Where do we learn? How does the classroom affect how we learn?

Brainstorm list of learning activities we do in the classroom. (group work, presenting, circle time, independent work at desks, etc).

Review area, perimeter and measurement.

Students could be asked to measure the room and all the objects in it, then submit ideas for a room redesign, with their proposals documented on graph paper. The students could be asked to make a poster and present their ideas to their peers verbally, and could be asked to explain their thinking in a writing exercise, describing why and how their plan would enhance/support teaching and learning in the room.

Lastly, we go through a feedback phase where students offer at least one thing they like about every other proposal, and one thing about each proposal that they think might present a challenge.

Using that feedback data, we could compile the most popular design ideas into a final design for the classroom.

While we have traditionally done this at the end of the year, I think we could move this to the beginning of the year. They come to us with a sense of area and perimeter, and this exercise is just an extension.

5th Grade by Meg Krause

5th graders have lots of experience in classrooms, and as the oldest students in the Lower School they think they know a lot!

Begin by asking students what they need to learn. Then have the students ask the teachers(s) what they need to be able to teach. (I’m thinking here about things like student engagement/curiosity.)

Then move on to some kind of visual inspiration activity. Students could look through magazines and make sketches. They should include places that stand out for them- so they need to be encouraged to look for images beyond schools. For example, libraries, offices, gymnasiums, zoos, etc. All these images could become a huge collage on one wall of the classroom. Then students use sticky dots to indicate the places that stand out and why.

Next, students could share whatever they find unsatisfying about the present setup. Ask students to draw a map of their current classroom, in as much detail as possible.  Then students use sticky notes to write a word or two that shows how they feel in each section of the classroom.

Once students have identified some wishes for a future classroom and some problems with the present classroom, direct them to work with a partner to identify a need. (Example, HMW create quiet places for reading? HMW design a classroom for more movement?) 

Middle School by Robin U

At our school I was lucky enough to be able to pilot certain types of furniture.  I teach Grade 7 Humanities and I was always moving my classroom set up around (at least three times a week).  For Socratic seminars we needed tables facing each other in a square or rectangle, for a video or pecha kucha we needed all the desks facing forward, for small group projects we sat in table groups of 4 -6 and for whole class simulations we sometimes didn’t want any desks at all.  

Our school ordered 8 tables for me - each one was on wheels and each one had a lever where you could flip the table top and push the tables against the wall or to make almost a wall of their own.  They also put whiteboards on almost all the walls (some teachers in the HS were lucky enough to have the kind of walls that you can write on) so we had great opportunities to arrange the classroom to suit the students and/or our learning needs on a daily basis.  It was so fantastic - so I LOVE your idea and I think it will definitely work.

We made a video of all the different classroom set-ups if you want me to try to find it.  We were also lucky enough to have a few big beanbag chairs which made an amazing reading space for students and we could move that space whenever we wanted.

The kids really liked the flexibility of the classroom space because they had ownership of it but also because I did.  When they came in and saw a certain set-up, they would get excited about what we were doing.  They also came up with their own ideas when they saw what we could do.  I think that MS aged students can clearly see the relationship that Paula is articulating between learning spaces, knowledge, creativity, process and innovation.  

If you don’t have money for these types of tables - you could do the same with other furniture - but with these tables, it’s really amazing.

Introducing the idea at the beginning of the year could be really cool with students writing about what they notice with the different spaces ie. it’s hard to actively listen to others when you have to twist your head around to focus on someone three rows behind you.

High School by Lisa Yokana

I am planning to do this on day one with my architecture I class. I will put all the furniture in the middle of the room and ask them to lay it out so that it works for our class. I will tell them that they can throw anything out or discard for later use. They will be confused. I will then ask them what they think they need to know and how they think they should proceed?

Instead of asking them about the learning first, since it’s high school, I want to have the shock value of coming into a room that’s not prepped for them. I want them to work through the problem. It may take more than one day for them to do this. And I will also tell them, after they start asking questions, that it doesn’t have to stay this way for the whole year but just for the first activity. I want them to be totally confused and then have to dig their way out.

After they actually figure something out, we will process like crazy. We will talk about how they worked, what role they took, how they felt and then about the process that they chose to follow. Then we will talk about what they would do differently next time they are faced with an open-ended problem like this.

I will document like crazy, taking photos along the way that I can post and record some of their responses in the reflection part.

Updated 8/14/15 by NYC Design Team

Class Set Up /Pop Up classroom

Overview: 

The basic idea is to start the year with an empty classroom, and involve the children in designing the classroom layout: what areas the room should be divided into, the furniture and wall posters/active boards/etc. required in each, accommodations to the needs of the children in general (e.g., heights of the wall posters) and of particular children (e.g., standing desks, quiet/focus spaces - for example, kindergarten students said they would like a “Flow Area” for students who don’t want to be interrupted in their work for snack/break time, and a “Chill Area” for when they just need a minute.

This idea could be adapted in a number of ways. Most obviously, the classroom could be redesigned throughout the course of the year, as needs change and/or better ideas emerge. Also, the classroom need not necessarily be empty on the first day: it could have some basic “default” layout that then would be redesigned early in the year – possibly in the first few days.

The conversation can be tackled in an age-appropriate way: with younger students, we can talk about what they will need to be able to do to go on to First Grade at the end of the year, so that they can think of having goals for their year. A simple tool for these children is a list of skills and knowledge, organized by topic, that they should have mastered by year’s end. The children can then check off their progress against the list as they go, helping them to see that they are progressing toward their own goals and take ownership of their own learning. With older students, we might spend less time on the content, and more on process: on what they need when working individually, versus in small or large teams, and how we might structure the environment to support these different types of work, for example.

Of course, the exercise can also be used to help bring relevance to classroom learnings: for example, 4th grade students could be asked to measure the room and all the objects in it, then submit ideas for a room redesign, with their proposals documented on graph paper. The students could be asked to present their ideas to their peers verbally, and could be asked to explain their thinking in a writing exercise, describing why and how their plan would enhance/support teaching and learning in the room. For younger, or older students, the type and scope of exercise could be adapted to a developmentally appropriate level.

Now, when schools lay out classrooms, they know what the rooms will be used for, and they intend their layouts to be useful and functional. And yet, how many of us have not wished, at least now and then, that the tables and chairs had wheels? How many of us have asked ourselves, why are the active boards on adult sight lines, even in the junior school? When we involve the children in classroom design, we see these questions everywhere. Why, when the children’s work covers the walls, is it put high up, for adults to see? Why, when adults now have standing desks in their offices, do children always have to sit while they work? And… why IS there a teacher’s desk?

Potential For Impact: 

It is empowering to the students, it makes it clear to them from the beginning that they have the authority to do things differently if they wish. It kicks off the year with a discussion of needs and solutions based on what is going to be taught. They decide what should be in the classroom, where and when.

In fact, we can think of this as going even beyond finding solutions based on what is going to be taught, and instead think of it as finding solutions based on how we (teachers and students) are going to work together to learn the things the students will need to learn – design for process, rather than content. The challenge for the students is to understand how they learn best, how they best address new challenges, and how to design their space and tools accordingly.

Value Prop/Pitch: 

We would tell the principal that it empowers the students. It is a good way to start a conversation about innovative solutions. The ideas the students come up with might be better than the ones we would have come up with, and it is a low-risk thing to do, since we can change anything that doesn’t work. It also help creates ownership of their learning because they are designing their own instruction from the beginning.

How’d I get this idea off the ground?

In many schools, the teacher has a great deal of discretion when it comes to classroom layout, and can just do it!

However, there will also be rules and regulations affecting classrooms, from (often very flexible) health/safety regulations to possibly quite prescriptive rules in some schools. In more-prescriptive schools there would be a need to get the school’s permission to redesign the classroom.

A question that comes up in this context is, “how will this get scaled?” or, “how will we roll out this new classroom design?” We think these questions can be answered at two levels. On one level, there is no need to scale, or roll out a particular classroom design. Each classroom is being designed – and redesigned, possibly several times a year – by its own students. So, each classroom designed this way may look different to the others (although the students are likely to learn from each other, and over time we are likely to see common themes emerge). But, at another level, there is the question of how to scale the idea of letting the children design their own learning spaces. This is a matter of gaining acceptance for the idea: it must get permission, and it must be adopted. We believe that, beyond the initial “leap of faith” required to test the idea in a few classrooms, it will be the positive feedback from the students themselves that will be the most powerful tool in gaining acceptance.

That said, we think it could be helpful to have a guide, or booklet, offering ideas and suggestions for layout ideas that have been successful in other schools, perhaps by subject and by grade, possibly including purchasing guides for the materials, equipment and furniture (ideally, with prices). Initially this could just be a short slide deck with some example layouts, interviews with students, and teacher notes on the thinking behind each layout. Over time it could evolve into a more detailed “how-to” booklet. Of course, either format could include video: interviews with the students about the process and their reaction to it; images/videos of the layouts in action; teachers talking about the features in their layouts, such as quiet space, collaborative space, etc.

Extensions of a “how-to” could also be possible. One idea is a “furniture exchange” that would list unused furniture available for use in classrooms following this process. It would require some dedicated storage, but perhaps if it was distributed amongst a group of schools it would be worth it to enable more frequent redesign of spaces by students. There could be a web site documenting the available inventory, where student-designers could "shop". This might also really help schools with less money to engage in this kind of flexible thinking about spaces and setup. This might be a way for schools with more money that are able to purchase new furniture more frequently to support schools that are less financially well off in this area. Personally we harvest other classroom's "leftovers" all the time. When someone is getting rid of something, an email goes out and someone usually takes it. But what if no one at that school takes it? This also supports the idea of reusing/recycling.  

How you can get started:

One way to get started would simply be by stacking all the furniture in one side of the room or even outside the room, then hold a circle with the students and discuss what they think they will learn this year and what tools and environments they might need for that. The conversation could then move to a conversation about the layout of the classroom, what it will need to have in it, where those things should go and how the needs and layout might change during the course of the year.

One challenge would lie in how to inform parents about this. Parents are accustomed to seeing classrooms laid out and ready to go when they bring the students to school on the first day. If the classroom was going to be essentially empty on the first day, the parents could be informed of this in the welcome letter sent out at the start of the year. Once the classroom had been laid out by the students, there could be an email sent out to the parents by the teacher with a photo of the new arrangement, and some commentary from the teacher explaining the thinking behind the layout and expressing excitement about trying it out.

Metrics:

Metrics could include feedback from student surveys, and even feedback from parents, in addition to more classic metrics of student performance.

Also, schools could measure how many classrooms were using this process: if many, it would suggest that there is a high degree of teacher buy-in; if few, it would suggest a need to ask why teachers are not buying in, to understand whether they do not see the value, or do see the value but believe it is too difficult, for example.

Materials to get this idea off the ground:

Tables for who liked to work standing up, tables with wheels, pods for who does not want to be interrupted, soft seating, tables you can write on….

Original Post

I have been re-designing my class over the years, according to what I see as my students' needs. By the time they arrive, the class is always already set up for them.

But - what if, when they arrived, there was NOTHING in the classroom? What if, through discussion, we discovered what we would need and where? I  can tell you right now that I would love if my tables/chairs had wheels, if my boards were lower, if the kids could write on the tables, if somehow I had moveable walls and I had higher tables for those who prefer to work standing up.

I always wondered, who are the boards decorated for? Yes, they're full of the kids' work, but are not on their line of sight! The same goes for the active board, and tall teachers often don't lower the active board for the kids to see better... And, why IS there a teacher's desk? 

We all know budget and space can be big issues, of course.

I would love to have a flow area in my class, an area where the kids could work when they do not want to be interrupted while deep in thought, and I would know to let them finish even if it was snack time or playground time. The kids have told me they would like an area where they could chill out when they felt the need. It may not be possible to have these all be separate spaces - I have been able to find ways to work with what I have - but in a perfect world, perhaps they could be :-)

This coming year that is what I plan to do (flow area/ chill out area yeah!) - to talk to the kids about where to place things and we will move them around until we believe we have a basic setup that we like. Of course, it will be a starting point only - we already move the furniture around as necessary, and we will again! 

53 comments

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Photo of John Faig
Team

Love the popup classroom idea. I was thinking about a micro-school and one of the ideas is to align the curriculum with real-world jobs (e.g., newspaper, architect, software developer, restaurant, etc.). The work environment would switch every few weeks.

Photo of Sanny
Team

Hi Paula,
Excited about your idea and interested to hear feedback from your students! Did you consider using research that has been done in office design? If employees were to design their offices it might look al lot like your class room?! For inspiration: https://hbr.org/2014/10/workspaces-that-move-people
You rock!

Photo of Paula Marra
Team

Thank you for the article. Will look into it. We have written a step by step pdf guide thinking about schools. It is attached to the doc. x

Photo of Sanny
Team

You wrote "We all know budget and space can be big issues, of course."
What about time? Will all school/teacher types have time to do this? How long could it take? Can it be integrated in other topics that have to get attention (and will be tested more)? Can't stop thinking about it :-)

Photo of Paula Marra
Team

Budget won't be a problem because the teacher will use material she already has. When I thought about budget the process had not evolved yet. Also a teacher can do this on the first day of school. It is a homeroom initiative that can be applied in other environments. We have some teachers thinking about prototyping :-).

Photo of Su Solano
Team

Great Ideas as always my dear Paula!!

Photo of Paula Marra
Team

Su , wonderful to see you here!!!! :-))))))))))

Photo of Jessica Lura
Team

Love the pdf-- a couple of comments/questions.

for "why are we here" conversation, you mention that a simple tool is a skills/expectation chart. Could you mock up an example chart so that teachers can visualize what a K or 1st grade student might say? I find that having chart examples in my curriculum helps me visualize how it might play out in my classroom.

Is the conversation all verbal or do you have the students sketch out ideas? Do you have photo copied pictures of the furniture that the students can manipulate to "see" how it looks when they put some where? Not that you have to, just curious :)

Photo of Paula Marra
Team

Hi Jessica, thank you for your feedback! I will post tomorrow an example of the chart. I will do a mock up on a standard sheet of paper and scan it. Usually this would be done on a big sheet of paper like butcher paper.

On the sketching ideas, I have asked the kids to do so. If you look at the JAM kids classroom pdf you will see drawings they made that I took for the architects. I wrote a bit about it during the Discovery Phase. The Pop Up Classroom idea came up because of my conversations with my students about those drawings.

I would think that it is a verbal conversation followed by sketches. I tried to describe that during step 4. I LOVE the idea of having copies of the pictures available for the students to use in laying out the classroom.

cheers,Paula

Photo of Moss Pike
Team

I second Jess: I love how far this idea has come, and the pdf is a fantastic resource! Would love to see it in action, as the new year begins. Great work on the part of you and your team, Paula!

Photo of Paula Marra
Team

Hi Moss,
We are planning to prototype when back at school! We will keep you all posted :-)
It is funny to think that the original post at the Discover phase was 6 lines long...... Cheers, Paula

Photo of Paula Marra
Team

Hi Jessica,
I added a couple of photograph to the description that I think will help to illustrate the idea of the timeline. Cheers, Paula

Photo of Jessica Lura
Team

Paula,
Thanks for the timeline!

Photo of Paula Marra
Team

I plan to video the chat with the kids next!

Photo of Emma Scripps
Team

Paula,

Needless to say - you have taken this idea to the next level! This is amazing. I have some thoughts about ways to make this idea even more transferrable. A couple of thoughts:

1) What if you created a downloadable PDF/resource that teachers could use to help them get started. Design it as you would a lesson plan. Lay out objectives/materials and then spell out the steps to implementing this. You have so many great questions you ask throughout the post - what if you added in those in as "key questions" so teachers could see what they should be asking along the way.

2) I would love to hear directly from you about why this creates a culture of innovation. What if you created a 2 minute "video pitch" - and uploaded it to your post? We could then hear from you directly about why you think this idea has potential for impact.

Let me know what you think!

Photo of Paula Marra
Team

Hi Emma,

Thank you for your thoughts on how to make this idea more transferrable. I will share your comments with the NYC Design Team and we will refine the post and make as a PDF/resource guide. I will also make a video pitch and will upload to this post.
I must add that all updates are a team effort. The kinder suggestion is mine, the 4th grade is by Richard Brehl and the 5th grade is by Meg Krause and we have other team members thinking about their respective grades. Michael Schurr will write about 3rd grade for example. Cheers, and thanks again, Paula

Photo of Paula Marra
Team

Hi Emma,

I started working on the PDF/resource guide, planning to add to Gdoc for NYC Design Team feedback and input. Should I also add a session on suggested furniture?Will record video pitch this Saturday. Cheers

Photo of Tom Sayer
Team

I'm not Emma but love the idea!

I think any resource / guide has to have two levels. One for the teacher in a resource constrained, and potentially freedom constrained school. A second, which can have equipment or furniture guides etc...for those with more budget / freedom. Of course this doesn't need to be presented as two options, but just needs to be accessible to a wide range of classrooms.

Photo of Garth Nichols
Team

I agree that for this one you need more than one guide. What are your thoughts on the guide that I've produced for my Inquiry and Design Lab: https://goo.gl/ukI1cl

It is intended for teachers and admin, and I've positioned it as a high-level guide. Should there be one for students as well? What would it look like? What information would be different than, excluded from, or added to the current guidebook I've put together?

Thanks!
garth.

Photo of Tom Sayer
Team

I love the inquiry / design lab. I think its gets at different elements and in different ways than the idea here though. My view only, but the idea here can create a culture of innovation without changing the curriculum at all. The inquiry / design lab goes much further; it shifts the whole learning process. I think potentially that would have a more far reaching impact, but would be much harder to implement in your 'average' school. As I read all of these, I try to read them through a number of lenses, one of which is 'if I had 15 minutes to persuade the principal of an inner-city Oakland school to do this, could I and how would I?'

Photo of Paula Marra
Team

Hi Tom,

I will be adding equipment and furniture suggestions as well so people can see what is available out there. I truly believe that Pop Up Classroom is feasible and by adopting this simple concept schools/ teachers will see change. I plan to have the pdf sketched out this weekend. Will keep you posted. If you have a chance take a look at Explode the Silos, our idea on how teachers can look at the curriculum they have in a different way. Cheers.

Photo of Garth Nichols
Team

There is a very healthy conversation going on with this idea already! Love it! I would just add a few things:

* There is a lot of purpose-design guides that exist, here is one: http://www.edugains.ca/resourcesLNS/Monographs/CapacityBuildingSeries/CBS_ThirdTeacher.pdf, and if you haven't read 'The Third Teacher', it's a great book about this very topic (http://www.thethirdteacher.com/) The website is very very good for this conversation

* Empathy: I would love to have the students in the design process think about, not only the type of learning they want to do, but also what their classmates NEED to succeed - think beyond themselves and get invovled in a larger, meta view of planning. "I want round tables to talk/discuss, but I now that Brijesh and Ronin need quiet to read...how might this look?"

* Finally, in terms of ownership, it would be great to build in an "exit card" style of feedback about the different room set ups, so that each is logged and rated. That way, at the end of the year, there is a good chunk of data for the students think about not only what they learn, but HOW and WHERE they learn best.

I'm designing a "Design Lab" and would love your feedback on my idea: https://goo.gl/ukI1cl

Thanks,
garth.

Photo of Paula Marra
Team

Hi Garth,

Thank you for the feedback! I read the Third Teacher :-)
This post (idea) originated from a chat that I had with my students last year. I believe that we can and will incorporate a more defined way for the feedback. I have doubts about the designing for their peers but let me think about it more. Have you ever tried that? Cheers, Paula

Photo of Brenna McNeil
Team

Hi Paula!

I love the idea of getting the students involved in setting up their own learning environment- I'm all for student ownership of their learning! :-)

I wonder how play-based learning and emergent curriculum, both important concepts in EY education, could be incorporated?

One thought I had is including your pop-up classroom idea in a unit of inquiry about 'self' including lines of inquiry into how people learn, and people's unique needs and interests. It's quite 'meta' for Kindy kids, but your pop-up classroom idea would be a great provocation for getting your students to start thinking about how they learn, what they need in order to learn, and what they want to learn about, as well as helping you, the teacher, find out what the students already know, what they *think* they know, and what their interests are in order to plan and further student inquiry experiences.

Great idea! :-)

Brenna

Photo of Paula Marra
Team

Great input!

We do explore the why they are there and what they will learn and what they think they will need to do so, but we can also go deeper as you suggested. Let me think about it!

xxpaula

Photo of Margaret Powers
Team

Hi Paula,

I love seeing how this idea has evolved and how many points you have addressed in the latest update! I think the guide or playbook idea is extremely powerful in helping this to be a scalable and shareable idea beyond any one classroom or school.

With a guide, other teachers could have step-by-step instructions for getting started. Here are some more ideas for that specific piece:

Maybe it could include some background reading (links) about why this work would be valuable and how it could empower students and why that is valuable.

While I think it would be great to include prices, I'm guessing that might change too frequently to make it really scalable but maybe the URLs (or direct links if the guide is digital) could be included to furniture and materials instead?

What if the book also had some ideas (or again, a link to a digital library?) for how schools could build their own furniture in a shop class? For K-12 schools or schools with partnership with local high schools, this could potentially make prototyping more affordable and also lay the groundwork for some cross-grade partnerships and design thinking.

Maybe there could be levels of design, to again help make the guidebook accessible to all schools. For example, for a standing desk a "Level 1" prototype might be getting a cardboard box to sit on top of an existing desk so that it could easily be added/removed to make it standing height. Small white boards that many schools use could be taped ontop of the box to make it writable (some teachers in a summer workshop prototyped this - it was awesome!). Then "Level 2" could be building a sturdier box or even full desk with materials in the school (maybe in the makerspace?) and "Level 3" could be buying actual standing desks. Depending on your funding, you could choose which level fit your classroom and potentially level up over time.

I was also wondering about the process students would engage in as they think about how to redesign their room. Would it be framed as a design thinking challenge? If so, it could be a great, concrete way for students to practice both the mindsets and process and also ensure that they include empathy and their peers' (and teacher's) physical/emotional/learning needs when designing the room in addition to just curriculum learning goals.

Can't wait to see this continue to evolve!

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Thank you for the feedback Margaret. Very comprehensive. Thank you! cheers, Paula

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In reference to Alexandrea's comment about scaling this across a district I was thinking about HMW promote this "pop-up classroom / maker space in a box / unclassroom box?"

I can't help but thinking of it as a sales pitch on an infomercial....."The contents of this box will allow you (student/teacher) to ________________________ (help me fill in the blank)

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Love the idea of a Pop-Up classroom ! I can even hear the infomercial :-)

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Hi Paula,

I'm so glad that the team is working together on this idea! When Michael Schurr and I were first getting our toes wet with DT redesigning our classroom spaces was what got of excited about the process. Between our two classes the students came up with many of the things that you identified. (including the possibility of furniture/storage on pulleys as a solution) They didn't see the value in bulletin boards. They could not read their work that was posted and it eventually all just became a back dropped they forget about. This lead to us doing away with the traditional bulletin boards and creating reference boards. This consisted of information that the STUDENTS identified as valuable during each lesson/unit. They were constantly changing. My 5th graders even went as far as to research the psychology of lighting in color after explaining how the florescent lighting and stark white walls were bland and boring. Before looking at furniture that would best fit our needs the students first discussed what they felt their needs where. They interviewed students in our grades so they could tell the story of the student experience throughout the lower school. Michael's class ended up using this information to construct the perfect desk while my 5th graders did multiple sketches of what they wanted.

I'm rattling this all off just to get to the point that the students are going to be such an important part of the process as you imagine your space.

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I agree with you! It is amazing to see that many of us were going through the same thinking process. With Kinder is a bit different, as they will discover what they need for the first time. It is brilliant to hear what your 5th graders did and about their research. I hope that in our team we can design something that will relate to all different grades with a common thread. Looking forward! I was also quite happy when Michael reached out early on to talk collaboration.

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I have another post about creating an Innovation Portfolio using character strengths....I wanted to share something that Cheryl Reynolds-Fefles shared that I thought could help us add to the mind-set that will be needed before opening the ""pop-up classroom / maker space in a box / unclassroom box" I' picturing a warning label that reads, "Before opening this box you are making a commitment to :
http://www.artiseducation.org/sites/default/files/shom.pdf
Develop Craft: Learning to use tools, materials, artistic conventions; and learning to care for tools, materials, and space.

Engage & Persist: Learning to embrace problems of relevance within the art world and/or of personal importance, to develop
focus conducive to working and persevering at tasks.

Envision: Learning to picture mentally what cannot be directly observed and imagine possible next steps in making a piece.

Express: Learning to create works that convey an idea, a feeling, or a personal meaning.

Observe: Learning to attend to visual contexts more closely than ordinary “looking” requires, and thereby to see things that
otherwise might not be seen.

Reflect: Learning to think and talk with others about an aspect of one’s work or working process, and, learning to judge one’s
own work and working process and the work of others.

Stretch & Explore: Learning to reach beyond one’s capacities, to explore playfully without a preconceived plan, and to embrace
the opportunity to learn from mistakes.

Understand Arts Community: Learning to interact as an artist with other artists i.e., in classrooms, in local arts organizations,
and across the art field) and within the broader society.

(SOME EDITS OF COURSE, AS IT IS DIRECTED TOWARD THE ARTS)

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Awesome to see a team collaborating on this idea! A few thoughts come to mind: What resources / support would you need to spread this idea across a district? On the Google for Education team, we always talk about scale. How do you envision scaling this to other districts? Is there a "un-classroom" in box solution that can be easily replicated? What would a "how to" guide look like?

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You could create a "catalogue" of spaces and furnishings so that other teachers could see different set ups and types of space that could be created with different types of furnishings. Not everyone can envision what to do with the flexibility. Or you could have a PD with staff to encourage them to rearrange the furnishings so that they could get comfortable with the idea of changing the space.

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Great idea! It is a must, some teachers might not know all the possibilities (e.g tables for who prefers to works standing up and so on, tables you can write on).
The big challenge in my head is how would we educate parents as they expect the classroom to be ready first day of school.

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Alexandra, this is great feedback. Definitely something this team needs to keep in mind as we frame this idea out in more detail. We will be updating this post as we work through some ideas together. Keep an eye out! Thanks again.

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Hi Alexandrea,

Thank you for the feedback! We started working together and we are looking at scaling, resources and how to spread the idea. Pop up classrooms or as Lisa Y says "makerspace in a box", classrooms in a box? As Michael said we will be updating the post as we work on it. cheers,paula

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Lisa, I love the idea of having teachers experiencing / envisioning flexible space. Think about how attached some teachers get to their space. Year in/out their rooms always look the same. Time to shake it up!!

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Even worse than not refreshing their room some teachers make their children sit at least 3 months with the same people at the same table!

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Very cool idea! When studying area and perimeter my co-teacher and I put students in groups and ask them to measure the room and all objects in it, then submit ideas for a room redesign. We ask them to document their plan on graph paper, then present it to the class. They are asked to support their idea with their thoughts on why and how their plan would enhance/support teaching and learning in the room. BUT we do this at the end of the year. They are inspired by the thought that we might use some of their ideas for the following year (and we have), but how much more inspiring would it be if they were designing their own learning environment, as your idea suggests!

Perhaps a school or a group of schools might start a furniture exchange that lists unused furniture available for use by classrooms undergoing this process. It would require some dedicated storage, which we all know is at a premium, but perhaps if it was distributed amongst a group of schools it would be worth it to enable more frequent redesign of spaces by students? Building on Lisa's catalog idea we might document the inventory on a website that designers could "shop". This might also really help schools with less money to engage in this kind of flexible thinking about spaces and setup. This might be a way for schools with more money that are able to purchase new furniture more frequently to support schools that are less financially well off in this area. Personally we harvest other classroom's "leftovers" all the time. When someone is getting rid of something, an email goes out and someone usually takes it. But what if no one at that school takes it? This also supports the idea of reusing/recycling.

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How old are you students? Mine are Kinder. It is also a fun way to discuss what will be taught. Really cool idea to have something like a school consortium for furniture exchange or even bulk orders! Like also the catalogue idea that Lisa mentioned and even more the idea of sending something as simple as an email with inventory for people to "shop". We create as you say a way to school less fortunate to also benefit! Michael created a gfolder for us to contribute and I already added this doc using the the example he gave. Shall we add this there? Looking forward to take this idea to the next step! FUN!

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Hi Paula - my kids are 4th graders. The exact procedure could be tweaked to be developmentally appropriate for any set of learners. I think that's part of what makes it such a compelling idea - it can be applied in so many ways and at pretty much any age. BTW I added my feedback as two separate comments in the gDoc.

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Awesome! We should build our idea to be used with any grade! Saw that on the doc! Psyched about the collaboration!

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OMG so many like minded people! It's soooo awesome!!! I've been asking my high school architecture students to redesign various aspects of THEIR school for the past seven years and they LOVE it! It gives them agency over their world. HMW scale this out? HMW scale this for schools that don't have a huge budget? HMW empower ALL our students? From the youngest to the oldest? Can you imagine what their mindset would be if they ALWAYS got to design their learning spaces? If the expectation was that they redesigned every space they inhabited so that it better facilitated their learning? I always ask my students to think about how they physically sit, lie, stand as they work? What does it feel and look like? Have you guys heard the term "embodied cognition?" We talk about it-it's high school-and then they re intact a body position that would facilitate a certain kind of learning.... Then they design furniture and spaces to facilitate that learning. What if we designed a system of modular furnishings that could be used to reimagine any common space in a school or a classroom? What would that look like? Should we consider the ceiling? HMW use pulleys to enable storage of projects? Think stage design.... I'm imagining a system that we could create and prototype that any school could use to reimagine a common space.... Any one out there with me on this???

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That would be great! I like the idea of multi purpose classes, so the kids wouldn't need to go to a maker space! our class is set up in a way that can be the makerspace. There is a school that has moveable walls and garage doors as doors in their classroom. Can you imagine how awesome? ypu can adapt your space according to your need!

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OMG AWESOME. Kindergarten, I have always said, is my favorite age student to teach. They have NO CONCEPT OF FAILURE. What? Something didn't work? Try something else. I know that's a generalization and therefore not always true but in my 12 years in the classroom, it's been more true than not...

That said, and knowing that for many Kinders, the first day of school can be tough, separation anxiety, etc. perhaps an indirect approach would work ... example ... making it into a game of sorts ... a design challenge, yes, but in their eyes ... a game?

I am getting delirious at the mental image of Kinders interviewing each other and 'sharing out', and seeing how their input could inform the arrangement of the room.

Crap. I miss elementary already. (I am teaching Middle School starting in ... uh ... a few weeks. YIKES!)

-kj-

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Hey thanks for adding me on this team!

Tell me again about your class(es) - how many students? Grade level(s)? Subject?

TIA!

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Hi Kevin,

I teach Kinder :-) 20 students! We are in two teams together. I believe that the collaboration will be insanely good! Looking froward :-)

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Love the blueprint for the room; thanks for sharing it, Paula! And I'm very interested in the idea of a "flow space" for kids that's also designed by kids. I wonder what they would want to see in it. Excited to see this project develop!

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Hi Moss,

The first time I thought about a Flow area was when I read the following article (looking for it) but then it did slip out of my mind until the day I was interviewing my kids (because architects were visiting and the kids designed their dream classroom for them) and one of them said they would like an area where they would not be interrupeted when working, because sometimes I stop then and they forget what they were thinking. I still must ask them what the space should look like.

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Paula,
Great thinking, I like how you're questioning basic assumptions about the way a classroom should run.
I recently read something that was interesting, and that was that no one ever asks students what they want to learn. We ask kids what stuff they want for their birthday, and they come up with a huge list, but we never ask them what they want to learn!
I think designing their own space is a great place to start!

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Hi Gavin,

n the first day of school I actually ask my five and a half years old why do you think you are here? I get many different answers: 'because my sister comes to this school" "because now I am a big boy" "I don't know" then after a while of this brainstorming someone always says to learn to write, then on a big white paper we break what does learn to write means...(letter formation, left to right...) we do that with all subjects. We end up with a kind of time line, middle of the year we go back to this paper and we tick what we achieved, at the end of the year we usually ticked everything then I turn the page around and I have the name of the next grade written J1 (in this case) and I tell them you are all ready to move on! Doing this has been great, they own their school experience!

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Paula,
I like the idea of starting with a blank canvas and then bringing in the room design as needs arise for the students.