Have you ever intentionally designed your classroom learning space?
After revisiting Dean Shareski's interview with Clarence Fisher, I've found myself thinking about how the layout of a classroom speaks loudly about the types of learning activities that take place within the space. Just as a restaurant has tables arranged for intimate conversation; a doctor's office has chairs arranged for private contemplation; and an auditorium focuses attention on a public performance; your classroom is arranged for.... what?
While we may be stuck with the rigidity of the desk, the layout of a classroom is largely left up to the inspiration of the teacher. In organizing their classroom furniture, I wonder how many teachers consider arranging their desks to maximize the effectiveness of collaborative experiences. My suspicion is that many teachers, in the name of 'classroom management' arrange their rooms to minimize opportunities for interaction.
With that, I'm venturing to share two distinct desk layouts that I use in my own teaching:
The first is the adaptable, double horse-shoe: The inner circle and outer circle allow students to participate in discussions with the entire class, or to focus on a large group activity/speaker/presentation. When the inner desks are rotated 180 degrees to face the outer horseshoe, you have instant tables formed that can be used for partner work, or small group activities.
The second simple group organizer I've used I call the 'awk-quad': Each quad is comprised of four desks, clustered, with two desks facing one another, and the other two facing in a common direction, but sandwiched onto the side of the opposing desks. Though awkward, this grouping allows for group discussion or partner work and with limited stress on student necks, provides a clear line of sight to centralized classroom activities.
Care to share your desk/classroom arrangement?
Although I feel guilty about asking the audience to participate... I think that learning should be conversational, so I'm inviting educators to share photos and rationale for the arrangement of their classrooms. Simply post a sketch or photo of your learning space on Flickr, or on your blog, and give an explanation of why your learning space is so designed.
In sharing your 'intentional workspace arrangement', you can link back to this post; or you can use the comment space below to link out to your photo and explanation. Who knows? This could be even become a meme of sorts...
Sue Tapp's response to the interview noted above, reminds me that VoiceThread offers an effective way to share a classroom story:
The Teacher 2.0 Podcast that spawned this idea is now available.
Photo credits: Piero Sierra; dc John