Sunday, April 8, 2012

Making Changes

Last week our team noticed that there were areas in our classroom that were not being used to their full potential. We are often changing materials and provocations, but even with these new invitations the children were found learning in different areas. Our book nook was one problem (it is on the left side in the picture). At the beginning of the year it was created as a nook and as the year progressed it turned into a bit of a hideaway and less of a space for the children to explore the instruments and books that were there.

We talked to the students about what we were noticing and it was amazing what they suggested. Their ideas on restructuring their learning space far surpassed any of the ideas that we have played with in our own heads! One student said "it is really hard to do puppet shows because there is not space to set up". Another student suggested that we move the guided reading/small group table to the book area and the puppet theatre closer to the building carpet. They said it would be less noisy for groups and then it would give the puppets way more space. So...with the children we dragged the table and theatre to their new spots.

Another area that was not drawing children the way that it did in the Fall is the nature area. The children suggested that we move nature and drama. One student shared that drama would be better on the floor anyways because kitchens are "not on the carpet".

Here is a photo of the preliminary changes we have made with the children. It is incredible what a difference we have seen in the classroom this week. Children are exploring all of the learning areas more frequently.

In the move, we altered our "math" area. We have been working on "rethinking" things this year as team as well. We talked a lot about the purpose of a math area and what the students were doing there. Many of the children, regardless of the provocation, choose to build in the math area. When 3D objects are put out, they build. When dominoes are out, they build. We have now moved our math manipulatives to the building area. We feel as though math is a concept that is taught in many if not all of the areas in the classroom depending on the provocation and questioning of the teachers in the room.

In place of math, we have set out an inquiry table. We will at time pose a math problem, but we want the kids to look at this space as one of inquiry instead of the restriction of only math. We are unsure if taking out this tradition learning area will hinder or support student learning. I would be interested in others opinions. We will continue to monitor and observe student learning to see if this is a best practice or if a designated math space is something we feel the kids still requires. When I walked around the room on Thursday, there were math concepts being explored at art, nature and in the sand.

After the changes that we made WITH the children we had a community circle to talk about the changes. One of my partners often reminds me that a change in the environment can be very disruptive to students and that involving them is so important as they better understand why things are different when they are involved. I am so impressed with the way the change has come with them being so truly involved.

Kids thoughts on the room change:
"We moved the drama on the floor where there is no carpet, so you have to be extra careful with the glass. If it falls it will break more easily."

"If you go to drama and break something by accident you can still go there. But if you go to drama and break something not by accidnets I don't think you should go there anymore"

"I like the nature is bigger now and there is more space for learning"

"The puppet theatre is very good. We can put rows of chairs for our friends to watch the show. Before there was no room."

I think it is so important to constantly reflect on your learning environment. We really spent a lot of time in the fall setting things up and thought what we had set out was great. When you really watch your children and listen to their ideas the classroom can transform into something that you many never have envisioned, but love more than anything you could dream up!


1 comment:

  1. We are noticing the same problem! What a great idea to throw it back to the children! Love it!