This is a guest post from Erin Klein, AJ Juliani and Ben Gilpin.
As we look towards the 2014-2015 school year, one question continually jumps out to me as an educator: How do our learning spaces impact our students?
As a new English teacher I remember getting into my classroom for the first time. I set up the space like classrooms I had seen before; I got my lesson plans in order; packed the filing cabinets with resources; started to make copies of overhead slides; put together an area for reading and stacked the shelves with books I had picked up in college or from my parents house.
Then the students arrived, and all my plans went out the window. I realized very quickly that the type of teaching I had been exposed to and grew up with, and the type of teaching taught at many undergraduate programs…was quickly becoming a past practice. That’s not to say many of the pedagogical and instructional strategies I learned don’t stick with me today (the good ones always will) but these students were different learners than I was…and at the time I was only 22 years old.
Flash forward nine years and the classrooms look very different in my same school district. In the two years since my district began a technology initiative our classrooms have evolved once more. Throughout this process I have tried my best to stay on top of where education is headed and what are the emerging “next” practices. Yet, one area that needs to be improved and is often overlooked is our learning space designs.
How We Design Our Classroom Matters
Brain-based learning theory has been around for a long time, and it has been used to improve the classroom experience in many schools around the world. However, I was shocked how hard it was to find great resources on re-designing learning spaces when I started down the path of re-designing my own school’s learning environment.
Luckily, there are a number of creative and inventive teachers and leaders who have designed their spaces with purpose. In order to share our own work with learning spaces, and the awesome work of others in education, we’ve started a new website: ClassroomCribs.com.
Classroom Cribs is our hub for “brain friendly learning spaces”. Our mission at Classroom Cribs is to enhance pedagogy and the learning experience with brain-based classroom designs that students will love. And that is the main point. We can (and should) create better learning environments for our students. Spaces that are centered around research and what works.
We recently launched ClassroomCribs.com and would love for you to visit and join over 1000 educators who are learning more about learning spaces from our newsletter. And to kick things off, we are starting the first ever “Classroom Cribs Challenge” on August 14th.
The Classroom Cribs Challenge
Remember MTV Cribs? We thought, what if that same concept of Cribs…met the classroom! From August 14th to September 14th we’ll be running a challenge that anyone can join. Here’s the details:
1. Rethink your learning space with the student in mind. What changes will enhance the learning experience?
2. Redesign your learning space and show us how you did it: Take pictures and video.
3. Create a 3-min “Cribs” video showing off your new learning space. Include a 250 word (or less) rationale for “why” you made the changes.
4. Submit your video, rationale, and bio to have a chance to be featured on our site and win great prizes!
How to Get Started
Come visit ClassroomCribs.com today and join our newsletter. We’ll keep you updated with new articles, videos, and more free design resources sent straight to your inbox. Then when August 14th rolls around, we’d love to see your learning space transformation as part of the Classroom Cribs challenge!