The Stenhouse Blog

Rethinking the Physical Space in Your Classroom

Posted by admin on Apr 30, 2019 4:33:43 PM

Katherine Mills Hernandez thinks that movement, talk, and physical environment in the classroom all contribute and influence students’ learning. In her book, Activate, she offers many ideas to help you create a classroom that is ideal for deeper engagement and lasting learning. Below is a quick activity you can use right away.

Move your body for three to five minutes with an activity you enjoy, and then stretch gently while breathing deeply. Get your journal, pen, and a glass of water, and settle in for five to ten minutes.

Recall a time in recent days when your classroom activity could’ve benefited from rearranging the physical space. Did you have students working in groups without being able to properly face one another? Were your students particularly energized at any point—or the opposite—and might’ve had deeper engagement in the activity if they had been able to use the room differently? Was there an activity that didn’t go as well as you’d hoped that might’ve benefited from taking just a few minutes to “set the stage” for that work by rearranging the furniture?

Write out your thoughts about this. If you could do that activity again, with the same students, how could you redesign the space for increased engagement?

Next, think about the lessons you have planned for the next few class sessions. Where might the students benefit from a quick furniture change? If you can’t think of a place now, write out a scenario in which you ask your students to help rearrange the room to open up more space and then have everyone stand in a big circle so everyone can see everyone else while having a whole-class discussion for three to five minutes. Write out how your students will return the furniture to its place quickly and safely and continue with the work of the session.

To learn more, get Activate: Deeper Learning Through Movement, Talk and Flexible Classrooms today!

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