The grammar of the classroom tells us what is possible there, tells the learner what to expect, how to act, how to interact, what is important.
You know those teacher dreams that happen in the last few days of summer where a classroom full of kids just won’t sit and listen no matter what the teacher says or does? Those are the dreams I had the week of the big reveal where we created our room and I knew I was in for something different. Our space now is unlike any space I have taught in before; wholly owned by students. I love that it has truly taken me away from being the centre of attention and creating space for student agency.
This is a space where design follows purpose.
I never would have imagined at the outset what an all encompassing project this would be (but, Tracy, you’d say, didn’t you plan it?) the answer is yes, but it took more effort and more time than I expected, but the payoff was also far greater than I expected.
My students can do math about our space. My students can discuss our space in French. My students plan and own their learning and the products that will be made in our space. My students are excited to be here. My students own this space!
What did they learn?
The students built on the 21st century competencies outlined in the ministerial order on learning in Alberta.
They collaborated, problem solved, researched, and communicated solutions, all in French!
But what would you do differently?
The question was asked by a colleague who appreciated the space but wondered what I learned.
- I would have owned less of it – let the students create more and solve more problems. Want a sofa but have $0? Let’s find a creative way to solve this… make it with cardboard, repurpose old furniture, have a bake sale…
- I would slow down more. I felt pressure to have the space completed, but it was such a rich learning project that it could easily have been given more time.
This is a space that will need to be remade at regular intervals to meet our current needs.
When we have a minute, I will have my students podcast about their learning.
On a related note: one of my students from last year dropped in last week to share his genius hour project where he read a novel, wrote a script, and filmed a stop-motion animation book trailer, and now my new group of students is fired up and ready to start creating!