This week in my Adapting Innovative Technology Class, I was asked to re create my classroom. Integrating learning theories and Sketch up, an internet based sketching program, I am to create a 21st learning space. I am always thinking of how I can update my classroom, but it always comes down to money. This was an assignment where I could imagine what I wanted for an educational space without having to worry about cost. Of course in the real world the cost of something is very real, so I am unsure as to whether or not this ideal space would be possible. As technology around us continues to change and evolve, so must the classroom. I understand this is hard, but I feel if I want my students to be equipped to be 21st century learners, they need to have the 21st century tools to prepare them.
The space that I would like to update would be my personal classroom space and our resource room space. I’ll start with my room. The current building I am working in opened in the fall of 2007. Construction started on the building long before I was hired and before we moved in, the building was deemed too small to fit grades 9-12, so it became a 10-12 building. The first thing I would like to do is make my room bigger as it was previously office space. My room jets out from the rest of the building and would be able to added on to. The extra space would allow mobility in my room without students having to trip over desks, chairs or each other. I would like to add more whiteboard space in my room as well. I would remove the current giant whiteboard and replace with three smaller whiteboards. This allows space for students to work on the whiteboard either alone, together in pairs or groups. There is no shortage of plug ins-why is this important one might say? I love my technology, so the availability of plug ins would help me increase the number of computers and other pieces of technology I’d like to integrate into my room. I would like to integrate the use of ipads. I would utilize some of the plug ins to form docking stations for Ipads. In order to effectively use the ipads, the wifi in my room would have to be updated and expanded as right now the wifi throughout the high school cannot support the number of people in the building so it kicks users off.
After describing my current space, I went to Sketch up to design my ideal learning space. This is a rough sketch of what I came up with:
There are student workstations that allow for individual student computers and space to complete work. These stations would be able to be moved so groups rather then pairs could be used to enhance the learning process. I would also have a SMART board to use during classroom activities. Two white boards are on either side of the SMART board to be able to utilize white board space while the SMART board is in use and also to allow more students to work together. The three boards also allow different activities to be going on as I teach an Academic Strategy class using student’s current classrooms. My thought would be to group students according to what subject they are working on and then pair/group them off according to their subject area to allow small group learning. The goal of pairs/small groups would be to encourage collaborative learning amongst my students and encourage them to critical think about what they are learning (Gokhale). The smaller the group the better for my students as they feel more comfortable asking questions when they feel their question won’t be looked at as dumb. The goal of collaborative learning in my classroom is to create an environment in which students are not afraid to take risks.
The goal of my ideal room is not simply for put as much technology in my room as possible. The goal is to create a classroom that is interact and can play to the different types of intelligences each of my students display. In doing research on multiple intelligences I found an interesting statement from an article-“Applications of the new technologies should provide ways for a variety of minds to gain access to knowledge” (Veenema & Gardner). This is so true, even today, for the technology experience I attempt to give my students whether it is in my special education classroom or in my general education classroom.
To say the design process was easy would be an understatement-this assignment was more frustrating to me then the Mozilla Popcorn assignment. I was able to work through the issues I had with the video. This assignment had its own set of challenges that made me walk away and not want to work on it. This is a program that I would not use in my room and trying to see how it would fit in a room other then an engineering or construction program. It was an ok experience using this program, but I would not use it again unless I needed to.
Gokhale, A. A. (1995). Collaborative learning enhances critical thinking.
Veenema, S., & Gardner, H. (1996). Multimedia and multiple intelligences.American Prospect, 69-76.