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Process for Identifying and Converting Underused Learning Spaces into Beehives of Activity.

Step 1: Hold a contest or host a nomination process for "Tired Space Transformation" that works with your school calendar.

Step 2: Create a Google forms to have simple submission of a photograph of the current space and paragraph or two of what could be imagined in that space.

Step 3: Promote the contest (school newspaper, social media, backpacks, whatever works).

Step 4: Host a design charrette shortly after the deadline and invite a variety of students (all that submitted ideas), faculty, staff, parents and community partners to participate. (Can a local business or PTO sponsor this?)
1. Have each idea on a separate large pad and allow open comments for first hour.
2. Give everyone in attendance 3 Avery dots and have them vote on their top ideas.
3. Select top 3 ideas, based on top vote getters (most Avery dots).
4. Break participants into 3 teams and have them do a short brainstorming session on their topic with a trained facilitator.
5. Pizza break.
6. Have each team develop a rapid prototype of their idea (to scale) and begin to price out items (research).
7. Come together and each team pitches concept to the entire group (including decision-makers).

One idea (minimum) is selected to move forward for development.
The community may be invited in to the school over the summer to help transform the space (including a mini grant from PTO or foundation to provide curriculum development or needed inservice, depending on type of space).
Do a big reveal just before school starts and thank volunteers and contributors (ask PTO for help here).


P.S. If a school doesn't have space to transform, perhaps it can get nominations for reusing existing spaces after school for the community to use (gym, art room, computers etc.) to extend tax payers investment in their schools and benefit to the community.

Step 5:

Christina, thanks for the feedback. Remember that 20% time is not pushing the "easy button" for teachers, it rather makes them help students explore the areas they'd like to explore within education and coach them to find the best resources. When students prescribe their own learning, they are much more diligent in their work and teachers need to stand back and get out of their way in many cases (from past experience). I find that I don't have to be the SME, but rather one step ahead of the student, helping find the needed resources within my network.

I've taken some of these ideas and pushed the thinking into what a day or hour with a substitute could look like (create these types of conditions on a day when the regular teacher is absent). It could turn a sub day into an innovation day if set up properly.

Thanks for the lead to visit Garth's page. We are in the final stages of designing the operation of our innovation hub and have both a learning lab and maker space and idea bar. I love Garth's idea of "thought books" and need to figure out how to issue everyone who comes to IN2 (our Innovation Hub name) their own thought book. I'll think about what the process might look like for repurposing tired spaces. I think some sort of application and nomination system during the year (nominate your favorite worn out space for a facelift) might generate some great things to consider - both from the student perspective and adults. Then the top choices could be selected and a design session held to co-create what that future space could look and act like. IMSA converted a storage space to a student lounge area that has board games, comfortable furniture and space to study in-between classes and after school. We recently also took a corner of the cafeteria that was just walk through dead space and made it into the Titan Cafe - an trendy Starbucks feel to lounging space to grab a cup of coffee, soft drink and chat with friends. The process for both projects was different - one initiated by students and one was staff driven. The one initiated by the students is more used (since they had the vision and worked hard to get it) rather than the space designed by adults for the students (that is the wrong approach in my opinion). We'll keep thinking about it.