Classroom and Beyond – engaging the learning

Wherever knowledge, skills etc can be learned, taught or shared learning is possible! This long-held belief of mine is supported in a myriad of research, literature and opportunity.

As a teacher then it is our responsibility to ensure this occurs.

Learning can be greatly influenced by the space, both tangible and intangible, in which it occurs.

Rands & Gansemer-Topf,(2017) suggest classroom design can encourage engagement and student learning. Catering to the varied needs of 21st Century learners requires consideration of flexible furnishing, areas for individual, large and small group learning, digital and hands-on spaces. Biddick’s (2014) guidelines for understanding the open learning space resonates with my experience of how classroom design and use (by educators and students) “can enhance or disadvantage learning” (p.1).

Giving attention to children’s perspectives can assist educators to create successful learning spaces (Read, 2010. Merewether, 2015). For example according to Read’s (2010) research children have an affinity with cylindrical shapes. I found it no surprise that girls and boys differ in their thoughts on what comprises an inviting learning space. When we are aiming to meet the needs of learners, surely their opinions count!

Learning Spaces beyond the classroom, however, are many, and equally as important. Let’s consider some….

I have always valued the outdoors as “integral to young children’s learning environments” (Merewether, 2015, p. 106) and its power to “not only improve academic performance, but also physical activity levels, social interactions and emotional wellbeing” (p.99 in Merewether) is undeniable. Children are naturally active and yet we are in an era where things such as computer games etc are resulting in less physical activity, making embracing the outdoor learning space particularly relevant. I am fascinated and inspired by projects such as the Prahran vertical school (Cook, 2017)

. With its atrium, sporting facilities and rooftop recreation area developers demonstrate innovative ways to combat the challenge for inner city schools to incorporate outdoor learning spaces.

At present I find myself in the robust space of online learning. A computer screen is my classroom but the learning is equally as vibrant and interactive as if I was face to face with fellow learners. The digital learning space never stops. At the click of a button doors open to the world and we can explore to our hearts desire. This space gives rise to global awareness.

Ask children about their favourite school experiences and they will often tell you about an excursion they have enjoyed. The community outside the school grounds is filled with opportunity to expand student’s learning and build global awareness. Museum’s, local businesses, workshops, zoos, animal sanctuaries, the list is endless. Excursions “make a major contribution to the acquisition of knowledge and development of skills”. As a teacher it is rewarding to witness the wonder and learning of children as they make real life connections through such experiences.

Using imagination, creativity & flexibility teachers can create vibrant, engaging learning spaces which have every student excited to engage and learn.

 

Acar, H. (2014). Learning Environments for Children in Outdoor Spaces. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 141, 846-853.

Biddick, N. (2014) Working in open plan learning spaces. Teacher Learning Network Newsletter, 21(1), 23-25.

Cook, H. (2017) Going High. Retrieved from http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/going-high-on-high-street-prahran-with-25m-vertical-school-to-hit-the-heights-20170303-guq22l.html

Merewether, J. (2015). Young children’s perspectives of outdoor learning spaces: What matters? Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 40(1), 99-108.

Rands, Melissa L., & Gansemer-Topf, Ann M. (2017). The Room Itself is Active: How Classroom Design Impacts Student Engagement. Journal of Learning Spaces, 6(1), 26-33.

Read, M. (2010). Contemplating design: listening to children’s preferences about classroom design. Creative Education, 2, 75-80.

 

 

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