Thursday, April 26, 2018

New Furniture Leads to Rethinking the Classroom and Teaching

Thanks to a generous WPSF grant one fifth grade room will be renovated to be a co-lab, a laboratory for collaborative learning. As we move towards the end weeks of the year, I'll be thinking about how this new furniture will inspire a new classroom set-up and new teaching.

As I set up the new room, I want to do as much of the following as possible:
  1. Store student tools and resources in easy-to-access and easy-to-put away places (everything in its place and a place for everything)
  2. Purchase common supply caddies to place on each table. 
  3. Create a "sunlight lab area" near the windows--this is a good place to watch plants grow, let water evaporate, and more.
  4. Place math/science books in a specific, easy to access area.
  5. Order the kinds of consumables that will support the program, consumables such as vinegar, baking soda, dirt pots, glue, sponges, teaspoons, plastic cups, pizza boxes, and more. 
As I think about the curriculum and new teaching, I want this new furniture to forward the following teaching/learning events:
  1. Significant attention to attributes of effective collaboration and teamwork upfront at the start of the school year
  2. More project/problem solving learning
  3. Greater attention to classroom routines and protocols to create a positive environment for teamwork, and an environment where there is plenty of time for meaningful teaching
  4. Plan the messiest activities for times when we can work outdoors as well as indoors
  5. Building good flexible teamwork structure so students get to work with a variety of classmates and so that teams are filled with students who encourage and inspire one another's best learning
During the testing days ahead, I'll spend a bit of time each day preparing for next year. I want to get this work done before the typical very hot days in late June--days when the students need you a lot and the room is simply too hot for thoughtful prep and paperwork.