Monday, April 26, 2010

New project

Welcome to my new old blog.

I've left it dormant for a few years because I had nothing I wanted to say. Now I have this new project that I want to record and track my progress.

Thank you for following my (self-indulgent) journey.

Here is my new project:
How does classroom atmosphere affect children's learning?

The theory:
My goal is for kids to see that learning happens everywhere, not just in their classrooms or at school, but in their lives outside of school. With that goal in mind, I want to de-institutionalize my classroom. Kids see their classrooms and school as they place they go to learn and then they turn that switch off when they leave because their atmospheres change the minute they leave school. So my BIG IDEA is: (Learning can happen anywhere, not just school so...) Take your learning with you, wherever you go.

The how:
I don't want my classroom to look like a typical school classroom, but I don't want it to look like home either. I'm looking to get rid of as many desks as possible. I've made a few structures that look like bleachers (we call them "risers"). I designed them so that students can see the smartboard, me and the class when they face forward. When they face backward, they have a workspace to use. I bought these 9x12 plastic document holders for each student. Each doc holder can carry their planner and a pencil and when the students are facing forward they can use the doc holders as lap desks. They can also take their lap desks outside, to library, in the hall, etc. so that their learning does go with them.

I am also going to remove all of my commercial posters, borders, etc. because you don't see those things anywhere but classrooms. If I could afford it, I would replace everything in my classroom with organic materials. I have some ideas about how to reduce the reliance on fluorescent light, and have bought a few things, but the transformation is going to take time and money. I'm already a bit out of pocket, but the cost has forced me to be creative and look for bargains or create things myself.

The reactions:
This has become an odd pet project for me. Other teachers just kind of shake their heads and wonder what the heck I'm doing. I've received zero feedback from parents. When I explained my idea to my students, I got a really interesting reaction. Not jumping up and down excitement. Not fearful opposition. A quiet and thoughtful curiosity with lots of questions helping to refine my vision and their understanding. I've had the risers about a week as I slowly build them, and I think students like the novelty and the freedom. My teaching partner has been a trooper. He is willing to go with the flow.

I have a vague idea of where I'm going next, but I'll have to see which way the wind blows first.


  1. Anonymous3:49 PM

    This sounds creative and crazy...much like you. Good luck with that!

  2. should be a writer! I really enjoyed reading your thoughts and ideas. Even though I've been listening all along, reading this quietly at home has allowed more think time for me. I can not wait to see how this all works out. As you know, I am ready and willing to jump on the bandwagon!! :)
    Eagerly awaiting your next post....

  3. Lori,

    Thanks for your support. It's not where I want it yet, but it is heading in the right direction though the wall sponge painting may have been a step back.

    This is a bit retrospective so far. The number of posts will reduce when I get caught up to real time.

    I am glad you are enjoying the journey so far.

    If you want to jump on the bandwagon, I'll help you. In fact, your truck may come in handy for picking up plywood.