#ISTE18 Session: From Research to Practice, Designing the Spaces Kids Need

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

No presenter names listed on the web site. No session resources posted.

**Note: I don’t proofread live blogs due to the intensity of these conferences. So, apologies in advance for typos or ramblings!! Just trying to capture the learning here, people! This one is especially rambly because the presenter talked REALLY fast and had so much info!

Learning Space Design

When you think about learning space design, think about MINDSET. Most people think about furniture, but really think about mindset. Build a designer’s mindset.

Nothing you are doing with your learning space is wrong if you are doing it with intention and the research behind it.

Is it bad to have a teacher’s desk? No. If you’re doing it with intention.

Is it bad to have desks and chairs? No. If you’re doing it with intention.

Often times we don’t actually know our intention. So much of edu is inertia, momentum, and tradition. We just keep doing things that we’ve always done. Tons of rules that we have that are just there because they’ve always been there. Sometimes we think we know, but just ask one more time. Maybe the rules have changed.

As soon as you know the verbs that are essential to your instruction, you can then design your space.

We have to get people in more spaces so we know what’s possible. Have your faculty meeting in someone else’s school, even if you do it virtually. Give teachers free afternoon for PD and make them visit someone else’s school. This will help people break out of setup mindset. But then it might turn into a decorator’s mindset (the pinterest teachers). The decorator’s mindset is cute, but it’s not intentional. It’s not about design.

If your space doesn’t contribute to the instructional vision/intention of the school, what’s the point? You can match the space to the mindset/vision on the cheap. You don’t need to buy all new furniture. You can do it without spending money.

Spaces = everything from where you walk into the building to each individual classroom.

Idea: Use old books to make a mosaic like this one of the Boston skyline at the Boston Public Library.

There isn’t a playbook. You have to study what you have, get continual feedback, and <<<something that I forget what he said>>>.

Research tells us that visual noise has to be dealt with intentionally. Kids get visually exhausted and have nothing left to give you anything intellectually. Ask kids every two weeks: What about this room promotes learning? What about this room prohibits your learning?

So much of what we do is FOR students. Let’s shift to doing things WITH students.

25 of anything is the wrong answer. 25 yoga balls is the wrong answer. 25 standing desks is the wrong answer. It’s about flexibility. Need to make sure we are doing things WITH kids and getting what’s right for them.

Be sure to have space for quiet. Kids need to be able to slow down, process, and reflect. Even if it’s just a “leave me the eff alone” desk. 50% of MS and HS kids who go to the bathroom don’t even go to the bathroom. They go just to have a moment. We need to give them a space to have the moments.

Think about the learning space as a nest. It’s where we support kids, help them belong, feed them what they need and prepare them to fly.

It’s really hard to see the space differently until it looks different. Take stuff out and envision what the space can be. Why are we sold that we have to have a 1:1 butts to seats ratio?? Do you really need one desk per kid? REALLY? The kids will figure it out- give it 72 hours.

Add writable space. It’s part of the thinking and learning process. Don’t put bookshelves right underneath the whiteboard. It’s not only about adding new space. It’s about recovering teh sapce we have. Don’t take up the whole whiteboard by the teacher. We tend to think vertically, but about about horizontally? The teacher can use the top of the white board and the kids can use the bottom.

Expiration date: Everything in your room should have an expiration date. Put something on every visual thing in your room and reconsider it by the date. Maybe it still needs to be there, but probably not.

“There are anchor charts all over America that kids stopped looking at months ago.” Stop wasting space if you aren’t using it with intention.

Signage matters! Change your signage- keep it updated. If you don’t change the signs, it means nothing new is happening. Best school sign ever: “We love visitors! Our secretary loves them the most! Please see her to check in!” Lololol.

How many square feet into the school do you have to walk in until you see a picture of learning? Sometimes that’s by design, but we can do better than that in our entryways. There is a story that is told by your entryway. When we get rid of books, take the jackets off and make art with them.

Do you have a place in your classroom where it feels like kids can tell a story? Why are we not doing everything we can to make our spaces engaging? Use the first 3-5 minutes to stand- why do we force them to be in their seats right away?

What other intangibles matter?

The leading indicators for space design are engagement and joy. And by the way, engagement and joy advance student achievement. Better learning happens. And engagement and joy goes up when a learning space is well designed.

And it’s not like kids just come in and do whatever you want. You can still have control. Just like with laptops, there is “close your lids” time.

When kids walk into the classroom, what’s the first thing they get? How is your space idea rich and question rich?

We have a responsibility to use all of our square feet to support learning. ALL SPACES are learning spaces. It’s a process, but how can we get to the point where every space is a learning space? Redesign hallways, open spaces, etc.

Are we in sync with nature? Interaction geograpy (Vanderbilt U currently researching). When we design spaces, do we understand how people move throughout the space? Take video and watch how kids move throughout the classroom. Where do kids move? Why are they over there but not over there? And then ask kids. Learn the movement and flow to help with design.

Where is the oxygen in the room? What’s the oxygen flow? Oxygen feeds fire- what feeds kids? And how can we use design to feed them?

Use visual displays for images of the community. Every 3 min, have a new image. Or just use it like a screensaver with 50 images of amazing artwork. Or pics of our kids. Let kids curate it. Don’t waste the space, even on our screens. (Could be a good suggestion for Junior/Drew since they have those TVs in their rooms- how are they being used?).

Put kids in work environments. They feel empowered.

Remember that collaboration goes well beyond “hey stand up and talk to each other.” Why do we always rush to erase stuff on the board? Why do we take the wisdom away from them- why does each class need to re-create the wisdom themselves?

Remember that learning spaces don’t only have to be in the classroom. Use a park, use the trees. They are learning spaces, too!!

Also have space for creation. More than ever, kids need to create content. Everyone needs content. Stuff for web sites, videos, etc. Where are we giving kids an opportunity to create? Hallway? Classroom? Make a hood that kids can stick their computer into and it’ll be a quiet space for creation.

$40 writeable tables from Ikea. I wish we had Ikea in CR!! 😦

Space for showcase- remember that part of the process is showcasing. Showcase process, not just product. How can we show that learning happens over time?

To wrap up:

It’s not really about the furniture. It’s the mindset. Perimeter- not just where the desks go. The floor plan- use the research to design intentionally.

Great session! My head is swimming- sooo much info, very overwhelming, but also validating because we are moving in this direction. Yay!!

Random idea from a different session that I don’t want to forget: paint green screen walls and get that green screen app!! (link to resources here)

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