It’s taken almost half of the school year for me to get here, but I’m finally ready to post a tour of my classroom for this school year.
I like to see inside of other people’s classrooms. Pictures posted on blogs and on twitter. Short videos on Youtube, or wherever else the inside of someone else’s space is showcased is always interesting to me. As teachers, we tend not to get around much. We don’t get the opportunity to talk about space and classroom design that often. Design is becoming ever more important, especially with studies like this one being released that show design to be an important factor in learning.
A bit of context about my space. My classroom is on the second floor of a two storey building. I have two large windows that face southwest. I am almost a neat freak in my classroom. I can’t work in a messy classroom. I think it serves as a distraction to a lot of kids. Now, that doesn’t mean that in the middle of projects that we don’t have a mess (I’m sure the janitors here curse me sometimes), but overall, I want things to be tidy.
Entering from the hallway, these shots are of my entire classroom:
I currently have 26 students in my class and try to support kids as many ways as possible. Some students prefer desks, others like tables. Some students want to work with others, others want to have their own space and prefer to work alone. I like to have “home” spaces such as desks and chairs, but I also like to have a few tables for small group work or other spaces (such as the green chair above) where a student can get away from their regular space and work somewhere else if they need to.
A few of my favourite things about my classroom are the couch and the huge National Geographic world map that I bought a couple of years ago. I also love the huge dragon mural on my wall. I teach middle school; who wouldn’t want a massive painting of a dragon?
I’m fortunate these days to have a large stable of technology in my classroom. I have two desktop imacs that are used mostly by the students in my video editing class but are open to anyone who wants to use them. I’ve just managed to acquire twenty new Dell laptops which we are putting to good use. I also have five Lenovo tablets which are used by my students for all sorts of things from basic research to serving as calculators when someone forgets theirs at home to being used as cameras, for playing math games, recording reflective videos, etc. At $200 each (bought before the Nexus 7 was available….) they were a good buy. About half of the kids in my classroom bring their own devices from home to use in class for different things. Ipods serve as ereaders and calculators, a few kids have tablets and about 10 of them bring laptops from home. All of this runs through the wireless network that is set up in my classroom.
My latest acquisition has been a 42 inch TV which I’ve had the maintenance staff at my school mount on the wall. This has quickly become part of a lot of things. I simply have an old laptop hooked up to it and I run a Powerpoint show on it all day in the classroom with all sorts of information on it. For example, we are currently studying structures in science class so I’ve uploaded a bunch of pictures or different structures that I’ve taken on my travels. I had a consultant bring me some new books so I’ve taken a picture of them and uploaded it to the TV to promote these books. I have slides of current homework assignments, sports practice times in the school and other things. I have Scratch installed on my new laptops and some kids are beginning to play with it a bit. To promote this, and before we really get in to using it in the classroom, I’ve put a slide up for it, as many kids had never heard about it or used it before.
All of these things make for a full classroom so one decision I’ve made is to not really have a teacher’s desk. It simply takes us too much room and I’ve always found that I don’t sit down much during the school day anyway. I do have a shelf with a couple of drawers in it and this holds my laptop and other papers I need during the day.
So that’s a full tour of my classroom. It is a busy place filled with kids and their stuff and with plenty of different things going on. 26 kids + me + a full time education assistant + all sorts of technology = a busy, (hopefully) engaging place.