Tag Archives: group

Classroom Design: A Different Theory and Approach

Learning Space

Learning Space

Again, during another session of browsing, I came across something interesting and intriguing. Throughout our course, we have been exposed to particular theories of classroom design and what works. I’m sure that everyone doing our course would agree totally (or mostly) that what we have seen and read is very practical and logical and would be something that we would love to have in our own classrooms given the budget to redesign. This article, however, takes us through the classroom of a teacher who has been inspired by the Reggio Emilia theories of classroom design which, while not being radically different from our own learning, opens up some questions for classroom designs of the future.

Reggio Emilia discourages bright colours and replaces them with more neutral, natural tones. Are these colour palettes more, or less inspiring to the minds of children? The design also removes as much plastic as possible from the learning environment, replacing it with natural products wherever this can be done. The above picture is typical of a Reggio Emilia learning space. Many of the features we would identify with being a good learning space are visible. I would love to see more curves in their designs myself, as I believe that more curves would better compliment the organic feel of the learning spaces.

On a personal level, I love the effort to reduce the usage of plastics in the learning environment, as I believe that we can all do with more natural substances around us. However, to my way of thinking, the colour scheme is just too bland to be inspiring. Is this because I have a preconceived notion of what a classroom should be like, or am I just trying to cater to my own personal needs through a subconscious application of the 8 Ways of Learning?

I think that as teachers we must avail ourselves to all relevant theories of learning spaces and pick and choose the elements that work best for our students. I believe it’s not so much about the theories and the names behind them, but rather the students who will develop and be inspired within these spaces now and into the future.

I have to admit that some elements of the classroom design are impressive and a lot of time and effort has gone into their construction and organisation. I like the inclusion of the children’s work in the spaces as well. The usage of natural lighting and refractive crystals is also a nice touch, something that I always like to have in my own classroom.

This is a space for 2 and 3 year olds, not primary age students, so it is intended to be a busy space for children with shorter (and developing) attention spans. The staff have taken an educational design theory and used it to suit the needs of their students, which is what we, as students )and as teachers) have been encouraged (required) to do as well. I’m a bit intrigued by the Fairy Dust Teaching. Do I have an inner Tinkerbell waiting to be released?

The inner Tinkerbell

The inner Tinkerbell

 

I would love to know your thoughts on the Reggio Emilia learning space design. Please leave a comment.

 

References:

http://8ways.wikispaces.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reggio_Emilia_approach

http://fairydustteaching.com/

http://imgarcade.com/1/original-tinkerbell-flying/ (image)

http://teaching2and3yearolds.com/preschool-classroom-design-ideas/

http://www.letthechildrenplay.net/2010/05/beautiful-learning-spaces-in-reggio.html (image)

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Filed under Arts and crafts, Course Work, EDFD459, Maths, Phonics, Reading, Technology, Young Learners

Group Learning Spaces

team_work

One thing about group learning spaces that we, as teachers must remember, is that they are not set in stone. A teacher’s learning space is the curriculum, and this is something we manipulate and change to suit the needs of our students. When we see the curriculum as such, we can focus more on the importance of such things as co-operation and collaboration. My understanding of the distinction is that co-operation assumes that there is already a pre-determined goal, while collaborative there seems to less of a fixed goal, with more emphasis on the process and the direction that the learning takes. Correct me if I’m wrong, its just my interpretation.
With the vast array of technology available to us, group learning has fewer borders than ever before. We can co-operate and collaborate on projects with people who may be far from where we are today. Learning has exponentially more potential than ever before. Our classrooms may therefore become far more self-motivated and purposeful than ever before.

Image retrieved from: jademoule.blogspot.com

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Collaborative, Cooperative and Group Learning Spaces

Collaboration image_0

Collaborative Learning

A collaborative learning space is one where specific tasks are completed by children who are working in small groups. Each child typically has few roles to undertake, but learns the significance of their role and its importance to the overall functioning of the group. It is believed that the knowledge gained by the group is generally socially constructed. The task is usually a closed topic with specific answers required to complete the task. The teacher is most usually the centre of authority in this model. Students usually receive the same mark for this model.

 

Co-operative Learning

The children work in small groups but each child will be given multiple roles to carry out. The activities are generally well structured with children learning the roles within group work as well as learning how to work as a team and to help each other.  The students will be working together and will take more responsibility to help in each others’ learning with more opportunity to practice relevant skills and to discuss the information. There is a specific task to be completed, but this task is generally open ended and complex. The children in the group are the centre of authority in this model, with the teacher generally acting as an observer. Students usually receive an individual mark based on participation. There are usually team rewards, but individuals are accountable for their share of the task. Children should be given equal opportunities to succeed at the tasks given.

 

Group Learning Space

A Group Learning Space is the space in which a group learns, which means, by definition, this is the space where both Collaborative and Co-operative learning can take place. Different Learning spaces are suited to different learning tasks and it should be the teacher, in general, who decides upon the learning space. However, children often see beyond and innovate to use spaces in ways that teachers cannot predict.

 

Educational

Each learning space will have its strengths as well as its weaknesses. The appropriateness depends upon the task given as well as on the nature of the children making use of the space. Also to take into account is the fact that some children don’t like and don’t function well in group situations, preferring to work as individuals, and vice versa. It is important that teachers are knowledgeable, if not practiced, in aspects of group work, in order to provide a beneficial learning experience for the children.

 

Slavin, R. (2010). Co-operative learning: what makes group-work work? The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice, OECD Publishing.

Image: https://nzfvc.org.nz/?q=node/1797

 

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