Tag Archives: planning

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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Using the 8 Ways in Planning Lessons

Learning-Map.1

At first glance my reaction to this was, “Oh no! How am I going to incorporate this?” After sitting back and thinking about it, I realised that it’s not imperative to incorporate every single one of the 8 ways, but rather to use them as a guide for overall planning. If used judiciously, and wisely, these 8 ways give the teacher the opportunity to plan effectively for all learning styles within the class. My realisation was that this is not something onerous, rather it simplifies the planning process. Instead of scratching my head and staring blankly wondering how to cater for the different ways of learning that there most definitely will be in an average class, I can now plan with a purpose, knowing that I can spread my lessons over the learning areas that cater not only to Aboriginal students, but to ALL students that I teach.

8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning. (2009). Retrieved from http://8ways.wikispaces.com/

Image retrieved from: http://www.asthmaaustralia.org.au

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My Self-Directed Learning Journey

sdl-students

Being self-directed is something I don’t think I have ever consciously thought about. I think I have usually tended to be a ‘go with the flow’ kind of personality, until I started doing this 4th year upgrade course.

Previously I had always been ‘directed’ or ‘guided’ into appropriate subjects at school. The one time I ever remember objecting and wanting to do my own choice I was told quite matter-of-factly that “Boys don’t do Home Economics in Queensland schools”. So much for my idea of becoming a chef!

Even the courses in this online platform don’t allow for choice. We have to do 8 units and there are 8 units available online. Hmmmmm!

Of course, I’m a little bolder now than I was in 1980. I’m trying to break the 8 unit mould and do 2 units on campus in Summer School in Brisbane after completing this unit. It’s a bit of a waiting game at the moment, but if I do get in, it means no Summer holiday break between semesters, but I will be finished by June. I don’t know how Pam can do 4 subjects at once, which I though about attempting. I’m struggling to keep up with 2 subjects.

One thing I have found with the subjects I have done as part of the 4th year upgrade, they tend to assume that you are teaching in a class and that you have access to technology. There seems to be a universal assumption that we are all starting from ‘the same square’. But it is good to see that some lecturers actively work to see us as individuals on our own learning continuums! Also, I have spent an extraordinary amount of money on technology (apps from iTunes and various programmes for my Mac, and now a new iPad) that I really can’t afford, but I need them to complete my work.

But, for the first time, I feel that I am doing something that I want to do because I want to do it.

It has meant sacrifice. It has meant losing a lot. But it also means that I will be able to teach again while at present I cannot (except in NSW – where no-one will employ you because you are over 40 anyway)

This course is a means to an end. I have become much more calendar conscious and much more aware of deadlines. I know my body can’t pull all-nighters and keep going the next day. I’m more conscious of study techniques and funnily enough, after all these years, I know what I’m like!

I avoid triggers of procrastination (impossible to avoid them all though). I set mini goals. I reward myself for accomplishments. I post things on Facebook when I achieve them (so I can get a like or two!). I take pride in my work and no longer see it as a chore. I now feel as if I really am learning something. I get excited about assignments (yes, I dread them) and look forward to applying what I have learnt to them. I have self-discipline. I never had that before when it came to study, ever!

I don’t fear failing, as I know I’m giving my work everything I can to succeed.

Like Justine, I do feel that “life can get in the way” at times, and that has been amply demonstrated this week with assignment work piling up and a pet family dog on the operating table for a freak leg injury. I’m at home alone, having to take care of everything and still keep up my work. I’ll get there. I might cut a few corners, but I will manage everything.

What I think I’m saying is that with age comes not just experience and knowledge, but also resilience. We know how to roll with things, we pick ourselves up to shake the dust off, and we get right back in there. How much more self-directed can we be than that?

 

Image source:

http://ictconnection.edumail.sg

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