Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

March 17, 2010

Making physical changes to schools to improve learning


 3-16-2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST   

Variety, flexibilty and vision for our learning spaces!

Many thanks to Malcolm Bellamy, @malcolmbellamy, for providing the edchat summary this week. Malcolm is a regular ‘#edchatter’ and a very passionate educator. We had a two-hour session yesterday as Malcolm explains ! So, thank you again Malcolm for agreeing to condense two hours of thought and comment! (see bio below)

We live in strange, some might say, interesting times and time was a definite factor in today’s #edchat. The U.S. had gone onto daylight saving last weekend and Europe hasn’t done so yet. There was therefore the interesting situation of the chat starting at the usual 12 noon E.S.T. which would usually have been 5 p.m. G.M.T. in Britain and 6 p.m. C.E.T. but in fact was an hour earlier! Notwithstanding this the intrepid moderators were able to allow the discussion to go from its usual one hour slot to 2 hours to accommodate the Europeans for which we, this side of the pond, were very grateful.

I thought it was a very wide-ranging discussion which brought out some interesting observations on the state of our school buildings, their fitness (or otherwise) for today’s changed educational environment and just what would constitute the type of school environment that would fit our new technological age.

The points that were made by Sean Banville about student participation in school design certainly hit home. There were a number of people who talked about classroom organisation and getting away from the rows and centralised teacher giving out the great wisdom to the pupils.Many people considered the actual design of the buildings, the dark and old ones which many have to contend with and the bright and airy ones which allow for flexibility of grouping and collaboration which many saw as the way forward.

Like every #edchat I have participated in it was full of interesting points and heated debate. I especially liked vanessacassie’s tweet which said: “I’m going to go against the grain & say that sometimes desks need to be in rows-not all kids can handle collaboration w/o direction”.

This is what makes #edchat the joy that it is, a real participatory community with vibrant ideas and opinions which we managed to have for twice as long as usual… how good is that?

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion: 

  • Building adaptable communities in our schools
  • Room for flexibility and grouping
  • The student voice in school design
  • The adaptation of our schools to new technology
  • Environments to promote learning

Here is a selection of some of the comments: 
cybraryman1   We need to build adaptable learning communities within schools. #edchat
MrR0g3rs   schools should invest in scalable and future proof technology infrastructure
colonelb   Flexible learning spaces. Even older buildings can be transformed. Start by getting rid of stuff piled in classrooms.
NMHS_Principal   Need a shift from traditional set-up; desks should not be in rows (not reflective/conducive to collab enviros #edchat
msmithpds    if you look at the Google headquarters – it is a relaxed environment that supports creativity – shouldn’t schools be like that? #edchat
vanessacassie   I’m going to go against the grain & say that sometimes desks need to be in rows-not all kids can handle collaboration w/o direction #edchat
MissCheska  #edchat How does the sitting reflect labs? Mostly large long desks get in the way of collaboration
worsttofirst   RT @ShellTerrell: Look at the differences btwn kindergarten & Univ. Why has classrm environment regressed as we get older? #Edchat
acmcdonaldgp  We used DESIGNSHARE http://bit.ly/9UV9J7 website as a resource for designing school. Some great ideas on this site #edchat
chamada    An interesting video on the “connection between where and how students learn in the 21st century.” http://ow.ly/1mX01 #edchat
ShellTerrell   RT @bethstill: Setting up room to invite students to move around instead of sit passively also good change in my room. #edchat
RonnieGonzalez   Also need to quit changing rooms every 50 min. How would you like to gather all your things & move every hour? #edchat
evmaiden   This really might be one of the areas that needs to be big picture and look at buildings and campuses #edchat
seanbanville   Do any schools ask students what kind of environments they like to learn in? #edchat
BradnDeedo  RT @ShellTerrell Many teachers don’t change the class environment because they are too comfortable. Change = discomfort (& work) #edchat
ToughLoveforX   I bet if the IKEA designers got involved, the could do amazing classrooms within even small budgets. #edchat
Parentella   We need more electrical outlets in classrooms. /via @tomwhitby <– not just on walls but also on floor so students can move about #edchat
Brian_Thomas   TCI Classrooms need to be built for the multiple intelligences #edchat
rliberni    RT @BradnDeedo: @TricomPR cloud computing provides that. It’s time we move teachers and students in that direction. #edchat
pgsimoes   Must read this gr8 article by @gsiemens about Portuguese Technology Plan – http://ow.ly/1lfdn #edchat
k_shelton   Thanks to this #edchat I will have my students design their ideal classroom using Google Sketchup. They’re doing workspace designs right now
RonnieGonzalez   Let’s do it! @tkraz will you take your students suggestion and change their learning environment? <-We might right now! #edchat
lemino  RT @olafelch: Having a groupwork layout is useless if the teacher still does only frontal teaching. #edchat
swalker2 21st Century classrroms don’t look a certain way – it’s about what the students do – not how the room looks! #edchat
marcnelson   So shouldn’t a 21st century classroom look like anywhere you are at? Learning shoudn’t be confined to a classroom. #edchat
colport   BTW My perfect classroom would have toilets near-by, so pupils don’t have to walk 4 miles during teaching and learning sessions 🙂

I would ask that the following question is added to the poll next week:

How can we promote greater internet use whilst keeping our students safe?

To follow the complete discussion see here 

For the stats on #edchat participation see here 

As ever, there were some great links shared: So many this week!!

stevefarber :  @johnccarver and the folks at Van Meter schools are changing the world of #education. Watch this: http://ow.ly/1mWeI

cristinaluminea:  Games and Learning http://bit.ly/1BvM25

cybraryman1:  have to run. On my Architecture pg I have links for redesigning/building schools for future http://bit.ly/a0zI0f

Openstudy: This is why there is confusion in the timing of #edchat today: http://www.timeanddate.com/news/time/ Lol!

mountainteacher: @jpsteltz we have been experimenting with solar tubes http://bit.ly/dpyV90 (just a sample site)

rkiker: @alexgfrancisco Check this video on tweetdeck http://bit.ly/3BSU4

acmcdonaldgp: We used DESIGNSHARE http://bit.ly/9UV9J7  website as a resource for designing school. Some great ideas on this site #edchat

chamada: An interesting video on the “connection between where and how students learn in the 21st century.” http://ow.ly/1mX01

esinglet: @MrR0g3rs: New blog post: More #Edchat Tips: Surviving the Maelstrom http://bit.ly/dx3Ayn

conweb: #edchat about classroom physical environment: links to research VERY important studies http://bit.ly/a00YdG

k_shelton: @ShellTerrell This whole #edchat fits loosely into something I studied in grad school. Human Performance Technology. http://bit.ly/bXSkbB

frankcalberg: I came across an interesting blog posting http://bit.ly/9NzUwh  What are your thoughts?

conweb: dramatic correlation between daylit school environments and student performance http://bit.ly/b5KDFt

pgsimoes: It’s the classroom model that needs rethinking, not computer use in classrooms. @gsiemens – http://ow.ly/1mXsD  #edchat – Last friday in PT

conweb: WINDOWS… daylighting… physical environment of classroom http://bit.ly/df0Y6j

SP24_7:  Two Texas Districts and 1:1 http://vimeo.com/8434559

pgsimoes:  Must read this gr8 article by @gsiemens about Portuguese Technology Plan – http://ow.ly/1lfdn

frankcalberg: The number of ideas increase when people stand up http://bit.ly/19glFz

ESLlibrary:  Good article: Redesigning the classroom environment http://bit.ly/dB7dqa

findingdulcinea:  Forest kindergarten classes spend 3 hrs/day outside, rain or shine. http://bit.ly/5D5wtt

mbteach:  Very conducive to Socratic discussion! RT @paulbogush: @tkraz We use this set-up http://tweetphoto.com/14617279

acmcdonaldgp:  IKEA-esque designs on designshare.com http://www.designshare.com/index.php/home @internet4classr re: write IKEA and ask them f/classroom designs

amghost: Preso on Learning Studios —> http://vimeo.com/5192313

pgsimoes:  Many students are helping teachers with setting up computers, using the whiteboards… @gsiemens – http://ow.ly/1mXRe

ShellTerrell:  Rita Dunn’s work w/ Learning Styles revolutionized the way I thought about classrm design! http://bit.ly/drNvWE

findingdulcinea:  Classrooms that have experimented with adjustable desks, no desks, beanbags, etc. http://bit.ly/a72znR

lemino: Oh, wow! 75 new #edchat twits in half a minute. I can’t hear you when you’re all speaking together 😉

malcolmbellamy:  good blog entry on schools for digital age http://bit.ly/8XfW4c

akenuam:  classroom architect http://classroom.4teachers.org/

pgsimoes: What will we learn in the future is largely irrelevant … How will we learn in the future is critical http://ow.ly/1mY4Z

acmcdonaldgp:  This is the school I was most recently principal of. When I can access portal, will post more pics of rooms http://bit.ly/9WyxTD

acmcdonaldgp:  Note the Learning Street entrance in pictures here http://bit.ly/9WyxTD  great for kids to work in bright day light and so inviting!

ESLlibrary:  Cool elementary classroom designs: http://bit.ly/VK6sE

daveandcori: Student design of dream classroom wins award – http://goo.gl/ywUL

mbteach:  Awesome Bill Maher article: Don’t Fire the Teachers When Students Don’t Learn http://bit.ly/9ih0DI  HE GETS IT!

jdthomas7:  Driveby culture and the endless search for wow ( http://bit.ly/cMfXWB  )

heoj:  here’s a NYT Learning Network lesson plan for students to design a playground: http://nyti.ms/dhxFZv

growupwithbooks:  You CAN #makeadifference with books! http://bit.ly/cobxXq

heoj:  and here’s a lesson plan in which students design their own work spaces: http://nyti.ms/aQiQwf

ShellTerrell: One of the best posts I’ve read on this subj- I’m Getting Rid of My Teacher’s Desk http://bit.ly/9rLv6l via @russgoerend

baldy7:  This is about photography, but it translates to #edreform well, esp. part on innovation http://bit.ly/9pB6yu

olafelch:  @fernandocassola Here http://www.uni-bielefeld.de/LS/laborschule_neu/dieschule_en.htm l they have several classes in the same room.

MZimmer557:  @ShellTerrell I discussed it in a Blog post Most Influential Teacher: http://bit.ly/b3oL6H

ejulez:  this is the kind of seat I’m imagining: http://bit.ly/9oVHXj

KimMcGill:  Do we have to wait 4 the reconstruction of physical space before we change? Moved desks+wireless/mac cart= http://bit.ly/aMGVMT

I am a Teaching and learning Consultant and ex Primary school headteacher. I work for Southend-On-Sea Borough Council, Essex, U.K.  and specialise in Primary mathematics. I have a real interest and concern for the promotion of new technology in education and have recently become a blogger with my site “Malcolm Bellamy’s learning Blog” (www.malbell.wordpress.com) where I have tried to show my own personal journey in learning using the internet. It has been a really intersting one so far and I have been greatly helped by Twitter, The Educators PLN and of course my weekly visits to #edchat.

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 800 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!  

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat.  

What do you think about physical learning spaces? Leave a comment!



  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by ShellTerrell: Making physical changes to schools to improve learning http://bit.ly/9ohYTG #edchat…

    Trackback by uberVU - social comments — March 17, 2010 @ 12:19 pm | Reply

  2. […] Making Physical Changes to School to Improve Learning […]

    Pingback by Welcome Back…To the Same Old Place that You Laughed About… | Brandi Writes Funny! — November 12, 2012 @ 5:47 pm | Reply

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