When I proposed the idea of creating a dream classroom to my sociology students, I had no idea what I would get. They absolutely dreamed big- Virtual Reality, classes of 12, four teachers for a classroom to aid students at different paces- but nothing they dreamed up is completely unbelievable. I want to take a look at some of the stand-out (and maybe surprising) ideas that just might work in your class today. Or at least, maybe someday soon.
Not surprisingly, my students took to the idea of different seating quickly. I have it in my class, but they took it to another level.
Sunken floors. Stadium seating in the round. Bean bag chairs. Chairs with magnets that allow students who need motion to feel they are moving while still seated. A stage in English classes to act out Shakespeare and other plays. Open floorplans for easy motion around the room. Larger classrooms for fewer students.
At the heart of all these ideas was this: student comfort and student needs for learning. They recognized that students have a variety of learning styles, and should be able to choose how they sit, and move, and interact with content.
A couple classes also offered ideas of multi-floored classes. One had a loft and another had an "observation deck" for students in sociology to observe people performing tasks. There are some issues with ADA compliance that needed to be addressed, but there is some value in the idea.
Lots of ideas about 1 to 1 devices. The students spoke about the importance, especially students who do not have their own device or their device was not as up to date. I think providing devices, while costly, does create an equality for all students. It is worth considering. One teacher suggested that the devices could also eliminate any instructional need for cell phones, so that could help reduce misuse of devices.
Several groups talked of the use of Virtual Reality. Now, they went all out and had VR rooms and walls, but I think VR is a conversation schools should have. Already, apps like Aurasma are already being used by teachers. If you are not familiar- think Pokemon Go! with educational application. Check out their site www.aurasma.com/. I have not used it personally, but one of the Biology teachers on my campus uses it, and it is awesome. I would not be surprised to see VR, even VR goggles, become more of a presence in classes in the near future. The application for teaching biology at a molecular level, or history/geography by simulating being in the actual location. Tons of possibilities.
The use of live feed video came up as well. Shooting video of the teacher who was preparing an experiment or going through it, then projecting it on screens so students can see the details. Also mentioned was videoing the lecture and immediately uploading it directly to student devices for playback. You Tube Live essentially provides this, and I would LOVE to do it, but, alas, my classroom is a wi-fi dead zone. Still.
One group suggested having an artifact time line, with actual artifacts for students to work with. Now, obviously, they must be replicas, but the value of the physical object to interact with is huge. Another group proposed a red "help" button that could be pressed discreetly that would alert the teacher on their laptop that a student needed help.
Finally, all classes pointed to interaction with each other and teachers as being the ultimate goal. Student led conversations, student designed project rubrics, students and teachers working together on the class "menu" and schedule, and project based learning were highlights.
I have shared images below of the various physical structures, and I would love feedback on the ideas. I also welcome any questions you have!
I teach Psychology, Sociology, World History Honors and Debate at College Station High School, as well as coach the debate team, sponsor the TED Ed Club, and I am the Lead Innovator for LEADS CSISD (A student leadership empowerment program for 5th-8th graders). I am an aspiring administrator.