Classrooms are not neutral. Indeed, each room “says” something to students as they enter, and recent studies reveal that classroom space can have a tremendous impact on student learning. As ESchoolNews reports, “more and more research points to the increased student achievement and engagement resulting from redesigning learning spaces to be more flexible and collaborative.”
Inspired by this research, as well as by input from students and staff at HHS, we submitted a $17K grant application to the Hopkinton Education Foundation to create an “inspiring student learning space” that will serve as an incubator for more innovative approaches to classroom design for HHS and the District. We are thrilled to announce that the Hopkin Education Foundation (HEF) funded our proposal and awarded us the Stephen Gray Innovation Grant for 2015.
HHS would like to thank the Hopkin Education Foundation, especially Maureen Belger and Tracey Scannevin who helped guide the grant process. We also want to acknowledge the generosity of HEF as well as the wider Hopkinton Community for supporting innovative projects in our schools.
Under the guidance of two parents who are experts in the field of designing work & school spaces, Ken Patrick and Mike MacDonald, this grant will create a vibrant, agile classroom space with a variety of student-friendly mobile furniture, a dynamic design, a flexible layout, and the capacity to seamlessly integrate digital technologies. The “iLab” (innovation lab) will serve two purposes. First, it will function as both a formal and informal learning space for HHS students. Second, it will serve as a design prototype for District teachers, administrators, and staff so that we might test out ways to create dynamic learning spaces where teachers and students can more effectively “learn, create, and achieve together.”
We are so excited to get started on this project and look forward to sharing updates on the iLab and its impact over the next school year.
Here are some articles if you would like to learn more about the research on classroom space:
by Colleen Worrell, PhD|Secondary Technology Integration Coordinator at HHSfirstname.lastname@example.org|Twitter @cdworrell Image credit: James Vaughn, 1962...The Jetsons, High School on Flickr & shared under at CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license
A recent visit to Room 208 revealed Grade 5 students all geared up for engaging literature circles. Mrs. Fumarola expertly integrated technology throughout the process of forming and managing the book groups all the while enhancing the essential soft skills that students need to successfully thrive in the digital world.
After previewing the book options, students were invited to complete a Book Club Preference Form where they were greeted with a picture of the books and asked to rate their first, second, and third choices. Mrs. Fumarola used the survey results gathered in the Google Sheet to place students into groups. Students then teamed up to read, reflect upon, and discuss their novels using technology to facilitate their interactions with the teacher and with each other.
Once students broke the book down into reading assignments, they read independently according to their schedules. At the end of each chapter, each student was required to complete a Thinkmark to stimulate critical thinking and metacognition. A Thinkmark is an interactive bookmark that prompts students to engage in critical thinking as they read. Traditionally students turned in a paper-based Thinkmark, which, as you might imagine, resulted in an onslaught of papers for the teacher to wade through. This time around, Mrs. Fumarola created a Google Form and collected student thoughts on group-based spreadsheet pages. She was thrilled with the paperless solution and the ability to easily see the progression of students’ work throughout the novel. Students overwhelmingly appreciated completing their work online versus on paper.
In addition to communicating with the teacher through Thinkmarks, students met with each other to discuss their weekly reading. Armed with a couple of talking points, students gathered for their meeting. Mrs. Fumarola kicked off each gathering with a recap of whom finished their reading and showed up with their talking points as she initiated the Quick Voice recorder app on an iPod. Recording discussions helped keep the team on track as well as let Mrs. Fumarola evaluate how effectively students were communicating their understanding of the text.
Lastly, students took to the Internet once again to answer a teacher-directed question. Using a discussion wall on Padlet.com created specifically for their group, students posted orginal answers to the teacher question. They also replied to their peers’ posts, generating thoughtful discourse.
While book clubs or literature circles are not new to the classroom scene, Mrs. Fumarola was able to put a new spin on them and reach her students in the comfort of their technology laden realm. Throughout the three-week period, students were engaged far beyond the task of reading a novel. The artfully planned lesson challenged students to think critically, collaborate, and communicate in meaningful ways. As a result, Mrs. Fumarola was rewarded with insight into students’ thinking and evidence of their interactions that would have been difficult to capture within the limited dimensions of the analog classroom.
By: Stephanie Doty