I have been looking forward to this assignment all semester! I love to design and organize things…I’m definitely in the right profession! This week I used a free downloadable program called Sketchup Make to design my ideal, 21st century classroom. It was a lot of fun! A lot of work and time to figure out the program and create my design, but it was an engaging and fun project. I’m looking forward to playing around more with this program. It’s also always fun to create an “ideal” – budget was not a factor, although I will give an estimate for how much it would cost to actually implement my design.
Since I’m not teaching in my own classroom right now, I redesigned my old classroom (pictures below). It was a decent sized room, with a window into the hallway. There were windows in the hall so I got some natural light in my room that way, but I covered the bottom portion of the windows so that my students wouldn’t be distracted by things going on in the hallway. On the wall opposite the entryway, there were two doors for storage closets. On the front wall was a large whiteboard, which I used for teaching. There was second whiteboard on the same wall as the door/window that I used to write daily schedules. I also had a table in the corner between those walls for handouts. My desk was in the corner diagonal from the door (so I could see the door). On the back wall were 2 file cabinets, a large storage cabinet and a table with students supplies (stapler, tape, absent work, etc.). I taught Spanish and U.S. History, so I had posters for both subjects around the room. It was colorful and bright. I’ve never been a fan of the desks arranged all in straight rows, and the way we taught Spanish was by storytelling so I needed to be able to get around the room easily and see everyone. There were 30 desks in the room and I had 12 in the front, 2 rows of 3 desks on each side and they faced each other. In the back were 6 rows of 3 desks facing the front of the room. I liked this set up because no student was further than 3 desks away from the front, so they weren’t peering around each other to see. They could see me easily and I could see them. There was a lot of open space in the middle of the room so I could walk around while I was teaching or students were working. The desks were the tippy kind that students have to slide in and out of, so they weren’t the greatest for grouping but students would put them together when they needed to collaborate. The only technology I had in my room was a projector with a screen in the front. I used it A LOT – I prepared a lot of my teaching materials ahead of time (lots of PowerPoint) to save time. It was also great to be able to show movies and videos on the large screen. I loved my classroom and I was proud if it — seeing these pictures really makes me miss it (and teaching)! I taught from 2008 – 2010, so there have been lots of changes in technology since then, and my former school is very innovative. They are 1:1 with iPads (which I factored into my new design) and doing lots of great things with 21st century learning models!
I think the easiest way to explain my redesigned classroom is to show the image first and then go through it and explain why I chose the elements that I chose. I was not sure of the dimensions of my original room so I kind of guessed and the redesigned classroom is 30′ x 40′. After putting all the furniture in, I think my actual room may have been a little smaller but there was some extra space, so I think I could still implement this same (or similar) design in a smaller space. Here is the overhead view:
As I thought about the elements that I wanted in my ideal classroom, I knew that I wanted it to be comfortable, stimulating (to an appropriate degree) and easily allow for students to collaborate as well as work at their own pace, in a way that is comfortable for them. I found this list of “10 Signs of a 21st Century Classroom,” which was very helpful as I thought about what instructional elements would be important to include. I also found the image at the top of this article, called “Top 10 Characteristics of a 21st Century Classroom” inspiring. It got me thinking about alternative seating options in my classroom – hence the corner couch! I also chose warm colors for the walls, as I teach older (high school) students and research has shown that warm colors seem to support better learning for older students (Barrett et al., 2013). The primary student seating is tables of two that can be arranged in many ways, depending on the instructional and learning goals. They can be grouped into tables of 4 for collaboration, arranged in a large square for group discussion, just to name a couple. There are many possibilities! The chairs are comfortable, lightly padded with a back so students can be comfortable. There are white boards on two of the walls and students’ seats face different directions, so there is no clear “front” of the room. Learning happens in all directions, at all times!
I will show an image of each wall as well and explain the features of the classroom more in depth. Here is the entry wall. The color is a soft, light orange (warm but not too bright). There is a SMARTboard 6065 (the smaller of the two boards), which is the latest model. It is intuitive, interactive, multimodal, high-definition and would be an amazing tool to enhance learning and instruction. Students can work on it, I can teach on it, and we can use it to experience content in new and innovative ways. Next to that is a regular white board that could be used for teaching, writing daily schedules/tasks, or for students to work on. The windows would be covered halfway just as they were in my original classroom (not pictured), and there is shelf underneath the windows for storage and student supplies. In the right corner is a couch with a small round table. Students could sit there to work individually or collaborate. It is a different seating option that will allow students to just be comfortable while they learn. There are also upward facing light fixtures on all of the walls for a different lighting option — dimmer, less bright lights make the environment more comfortable as well. Ideally these would be individually controlled (on/off) and the brightness would be adjustable so they could be dimmed.
Next is the former “front” wall. The color is a soft yellow. Again, there is the couch and the same light fixtures for a different lighting option. This wall has a large whiteboard for instruction. Students may also use this board when they collaborate. In the right corner are 4 tall desks. Students can use these if they prefer to work individually, uninterrupted. They are also tall so students can stand to work if they prefer. Some students have difficulty sitting all day; they are fidgety and/or uncomfortable, so if they can stand up or sit on a couch, that is one less thing to interfere with their learning. My husband works an office job and he has a tall desk. He shares a tall chair with two of his co-workers and spends the better part of his day standing up to work. It’s great for him and I wanted my students to have the same option.
The wall opposite the entryway is painted a soft, light red. The main feature of this wall is classroom storage. There are several cabinets and closets, including a set of overhead cabinets. Extra copies of students handouts would be on the counter, along with boxes to turn in any paper work. In the right corner is my desk area. It is L-shaped, with a desk along the side where students can sit for individual or group conferences.
The room would be decorated with posters and examples of student work. The wall behind my desk has a display case for student work.
Students would be 1:1 with iPads, so there really isn’t a need for a computer station in the room, but there would be charging stations available around the room.
Cost of Implementation
Below is a list of the items I would need to purchase for my redesigned classroom. I could use storage cabinets and teacher desk that are available in the school – no need to purchase new items for those.
SMARTBoard 6065 – $5999.00 (www.techedu.com)
Corner couch – $899.00 (www.ikea.com)
Round coffee table – $89.00 (www.ikea.com)
Standing desks (4) – $1132.00 total (www.google.com)
Tall desk chairs (4) – $352.00 total (www.google.com)
Student tables (17) – $1700.00 total (www.schooloutfitters.com)
Student chairs (34) – $1088.00 total (www.google.com)
Storage shelves – $195.00 (www.google.com)
Conference desk – $630.00 (www.google.com)
Total – $12,084 (!!!)
Resources and Implementation
In order to implement this design plan, I would need about $12,000. I could probably get some of the items for less if I researched a bit more. I could also definitely do the implementation in stages, which would stretch the cost out over time. The first change I would make would be to switch the desks out for tables. Next I would want to add the SMARTBoard, then the standing desks and finally the couch. Depending on student needs, I may opt for the couch first and then the standing desks. I could use any table for the conference portion of my desk; it does not need to be the fancy round conference desk.
Doing the implementation in stages would spread the cost out over time, but it would also allow me and my students to transition gradually into a new model of teaching and learning. In my opinion, the quicker the better, as the world is moving forward whether we do or not!
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
Goertz, Patrick. (2015, February). 10 signs of a 21st century classroom. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/discussion/10-signs-21st-century-classroom
Le, Trung. (2010, May). Redesigning education: why can’t we be in kindergarten for life? Retrieved from http://www.fastcodesign.com/1637619/redesigning-education-why-cant-we-be-in-kindergarten-for-life
Le, Trung. (2011, March). Teaching kids design thinking, so they can solve the world’s biggest problems. Retrieved from http://www.fastcodesign.com/1663416/teaching-kids-design-thinking-so-they-can-solve-the-worlds-biggest-problems
Saxena, Saomya. (2013, December). Top 10 characteristics of a 21st century classroom. Retrieved from http://edtechreview.in/news/862-top-10-characteristics-of-a-21st-century-classroom