Thursday, April 9, 2020

Learning Environments

There are three teachers of children: adults, other children, and their physical environment.
~ Loris Malaguzzi

Within our District Improvement Plan, a key goal is to support communication, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking skills for our students. As we expand our understanding of the 21st-century learner, we have been addressing the classroom environment as the third teacher to impact learning.

During the 2018-2019 school year, District 35 initiated a strategic process to determine how redesigned learning spaces can support a new type of teaching and learning experience in the district.  The process engaged a variety of stakeholders in an effort to develop an initial view of the future of learning to inform spatial redesign efforts. Specifically, this effort involved the design of a prototype classroom learning space, the development of a classroom pilot program, and the redesign of the Crawford Learning Center. David Jakes Designs LLC, in partnership with Jason Meyering Architecture, was engaged to facilitate the process, while also working with the district’s current architect, Green|Associates, Inc. for the final designs.

On January 23rd, Central School opened the classroom doors of room 141 and welcomed teachers and students into a beautifully redesigned learning environment. The goal of this pilot project is to evaluate a new classroom prototype design and consider the elements of this learning space which most positively impact teaching and learning.

Room 141 currently hosts a variety of furniture items including desks, tables, a variety of chairs, and a range of soft seating items. Certain elements of furniture are height adjustable and all selections are movable to allow for a variety of designs in the classroom based on the learning tasks. Additionally, the room has new lighting (adjustable), flooring, shading, storage, and several writable surfaces. A mobile Smartboard panel display with Apple TV rounds out the prototype classroom resources. Room 141 is currently being used by all grade levels within the Central School; additionally, our professional development sessions and team meetings are being hosted in this new learning environment whenever possible. In addition to gathering anecdotal feedback, we will also gather post-survey data and conduct focus groups with our students. This will inform our next steps as we plan for 4-6 additional classroom updates for the summer months. Our Board of Education has also approved the summer 2020 renovation of the Central School Crawford Learning Center. This will provide a range of updates to the hub of learning for our 5th-8th grade students and teachers.

Please enjoy the photos below as we capture many learners within our new classroom environment.