Classroom environments

Some time ago I blogged about the class room environment and the great work of Dr Kenn Fisher, international guru of learning space design. Today, as a federation we discussed the notion of classroom display and soon found ourselves pulled into consideration of furniture, children’s pathways through their environment and the learning experiences that our classrooms support. In a brief reflection prior to rushing off to a local authority meeting, here are my thoughts about some of the issues that we might consider:

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3 thoughts on “Classroom environments

  1. Thanks for sharing this Neil, I hope the new role is going well.

    I find your points very interesting, especially the notion of ‘distractions’ as a child moves around the environment contributing positively to their learning. This is one of those things that seems to against the grain of what most teachers desire in their classrooms (distraction free and focused), yet when you think about it chimes so well with genuine learning experiences.

    I certainly agree with the idea of ‘messy displays’ reflecting learning in progress. I remember having a vague notion of that sort of idea in my interview with you and I had really put it on the back burner- you’ve spurred me to really think about that one again in my own classroom, thanks!

    The biggest challenge for me with all of this has to be space, it’s one of those issues you really have to double think. First what do you really want the environment to achieve, then how on earth are you going to achieve it with the limitations of the space you have!

    On a vaguely related note, I posted the interview with Stephen Heppell year 5 did up (http://rhsradio.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/stephen-heppell-interview/) thought you might be interested to hear it.

  2. Neil, an official welcome to the ‘region’ from the SSAT, and I hope all is going well. As I’ve started to visit more primary schools in particular I’ve been struck how some of the more striking learning environments seem to have adopt an ‘immersive’ approach. Whilst some very impressive buildings have emerged through bsf and pfi arrangements, some of the work that seems to have had noticeable impact is that related to celebrating and stimulating learning activity through having a multiplicity of ‘reminders’ all around. “Distractions” I don’t think so. I was struck for example, on a recent visit to Alexandra Infants in Bromley where the ‘global’ and ‘creative’ curriculum are very much in evidence from the moment you enter the school. I learnt a lot just by ‘looking around’. The notion of a ‘learning environment’ is just that – not just a classroom. Interestingly, Yong Zhao refers to (new) technologies not as a system of ‘tools’ but an ‘environment’ in which (and through which) to learn. I wonder if there are parallels here?

  3. Hi Neil,

    Enjoyed your thoughts on the classroom environment. Our situation with displays is in transition from a working walls approach, which in my experience can become a giant pinboard without coherence or meaning for children, to something that is more structured yet dynamic and interactive. We are also setting space aside for celebratory displays.

    Just this week in fact I have been developing concept mapping skills with year 4 and have used a display board to reflect the progress of our thinking.

    In respect, of zoning rooms to create different kinds of spaces within a space this is something I read an awful lot about whilst training (Barbara Prashnig’s work principally). However, it is frustratingly harder to develop in school due to space and fixed furntiure constraints. Which is why I think the notion of moving towards more flexible furniture solutions, to actively change the environment to reflect the learning taking place is more achievable in many schools (subject to funding priorities of course).

    Anyway, thanks for a stimulating post.

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