This week in CEP 811 we learned about the impact of learning spaces on student achievement. Often we see classrooms as static spaces that students where students are the element of change. Researchers and educators are beginning to change the way we view our spaces – encouraging creative thought and reimagining the role that the classroom can play in learning. In the spirit of Dr. Ken Robinson (2010), we must change our paradigm and dream of the many functions of a classroom. This week, I did just that.
My Current Space
The space I teach in is a typical band room. A large space with no windows, tile floors, tall ceilings, wall storage, and far too many items. From percussion instruments, student instrument storage, chairs, pianos, sheet music cabinets – it is a significant challenge at times to create a space that is organizing and inviting for student learning.
I have spent over 30 hours removing broken instruments, organizing instruments, recycling and organizing music, yet I still have a long ways to go!
Unlike many instrumental music teachers I love moving students in various arrangement throughout the learning process to increase engagement and assist in meeting performance goals. The large space in the center allows me to have rows, arcs, circles, pods and other arrangements as I desire. However, I wish my room had more character and life. Time for a ReDesign!
Using a computer program imaging program called SketchUp I was able to create and re envision my classroom through 3D computer design. The results are below:
In this redesign project, I I focused on elements highlighted as having significant effect on student achievement: lighting, color, and flexibility/arrangement ( Barrett, Zhang, Moffat & Kobbacy, 2013). Color and complexity add visual stimulation to the physical environment. The current wall color of white with dark blue tiles is boring and sterile in nature. Adding pops of color of the front wall as well as the practice room adds visual interest while simultaneously playing to the creative nature of the subjects being taught.
A positive element of my room is the ability to easily change the arrangement of the room. TheThirdTeacher, a resource on design and structure of educational spaces for educators recommends that spaces be created in a manner that allows for change, which is one of the factors recommended by Barrett et. al (2013). However, to make the space more usable, I suggest moving all instrument storage to the former instrument storage room which has been taken over for theater storage. In the place of the cabinetry, I added the resource of moveable tables. These can be used to create workspaces for student projects, tables for when utilizing chromebooks, organizing fundraising materials, and even simply setting out food for the many performing events we have throughout the year. Flexibility is key – and this is greatly enhanced through the addition of moveable tables.
The final element of my design that I am excited about is the addition of technology. Currently I am using my personal large flatscreen TV to display information for the students. I would love to create an information hub at the front of the room that will allow me to utilize and adapt technology in a way that is authentic to my needs, a staple of the TPACK framework (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). This means replacing my TV with a SmartBoard/Promethean Board as well as a large data projector screen. My needs span both interactive elements and the ability to project data to large group of students. A large projector screen allows me to project music such as sight reading materials onto a screen in a manner that is large enough to students to view from any seat in the room. As a bonus, it works as an AWESOME screen for skyping with other ensembles, conductors, and composers from around the world – a favorite activity of mine.
The practice rooms in the back are currently used as storage. In this design they become multi-purpose, collaborative spaces. They can be a practice room or can serve as an area for students to collaborate, or even serve as a recording studio! Connecting the two spaces is a student info center where students can post events, photos, and simply have a place of their own. I tend to be controlling of my spaces, so the collaborative board in the back is the perfect student centered space. I think it would be a great planning area for student projects and events!
Implementing the Vision
The most expensive part of the redesign is the technology.
Data Projector – $380
Projector Screen – $1080
Smartboard – $4,099 (Motorized is necessary due to the ceiling height)
Install & Installation Components – $1,000 (Estimate by district technology director)
Changing the esthetics of the room is much less costly.
Tables – 6 @ $182.88
Paint – 3 Gallons @ $32.98
Moving the instrument storage cabinets, music library filing cabinets, and relocating the theater materials is a large task. This project would take multiple full days to implement and with the assistance of 8 – 12 people. It will need to be a collaborative venture, as it would be advantageous to liquidate unused/broken/old instruments during this process and reassess the current and future needs of the ensembles in regards to equipment. Furthermore, storage is highly coveted – it may be that the theater equipment will need to be moved to the basement of the building, requiring coordination with the building engineer and staff.
Though the man hours are great, it is a change that is totally possible and is worth discussing with the various stakeholders in the district. Currently the district is focusing on updating building technology. As such it is the perfect time to apply for funding to make the full redesign a ReDesign a reality. Thank you to SketchUp and the MAET program for helping to inspire Round 2 of room organization!
Barrett, P., Zhang, Y., Moffat, J., & Kobbacy, K. (2013). A holistic, multi-level analysis identifying the impact of classroom design on on pupils’ learning. Building and Environment, 59, 678-689. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2012.09.016
Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054. Retrieved from http://punya.educ.msu.edu/publications/journal_articles/mishra-koehler-tcr2006.pdf
Robinson, K., (2010). Changing education paradigms [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U