Session 118: How have you modified your learning environment to improve teaching & learning

Thursday 4th October 2012

Session Title: How have you modified your learning environment to improve teaching and learning?

Date: Thursday 4th October 2012

Summary of the Session:
I once had my entire class stand on their heads to see the world from another angle” Ewan McIntosh
This tweet from Ewan McIntosh is a great place to start this ukedchat summary. The idea of session was not necessarily to encourage people to stand on their heads but to look at their learning environment from a different point of view and learn from the suggestions of all that participated. I have selected some of the questions that were posed during the session and picked out the main themes resulting from them.

Do you use a seating plan in your classroom?

We began the session by discussing the classroom environment, specifically seating plans and their impact on student interaction. It was widely acknowledged that seating plans were effective ways of organizing and structuring a lesson to ensure that students were productive from entering the lesson. Some teachers felt that flexible seating could often be disruptive as students can take a long time to settle into their learning. However, on the positive side, flexible seating enables children to have a very different social experience during each and every lesson.

@ukcreativeed – “creative approach to seating plans: we use height/birthday/house number/alphabetical order etc.”

Have you ever allowed children to design the classroom layout?

This question was met with a mixed response. Many teachers had tried it, however not always with successful results. Some said that the children designed the classroom in a very similar way, with desks arranged in groups and children sitting in teams of six facing the front of the class. Other children had been a little more creative and inspired break out zones where they could add to interactive displays and work on laptops independently from the remainder of the class.

@SwayGrantham – “I asked, just got recreations of the same! Chairs and tables in groups!”

Do you have specific areas of your classroom dedicated to technology?

It was clear from the response to this question that more classrooms are becoming equipped with mobile technology. A number of teachers stated that it was no longer necessary to have dedicated tech areas as the students could access tablets and laptops wherever they were in the room. This gives the class teacher the opportunity to embed ICT into all subjects and use every inch of the classroom as a learning space.

@syded06 – “no need as the technology can move with them. Apple TV allows any iPad to be displayed.”

If you could change one thing about your classroom, what would it be?

The resounding answer to this question was SPACE. There was no shortage of ideas for what teachers would like to do with their classrooms, however they feel heavily restricted by the amount of space they have available. There were some creative suggestions for how to solve this issue, such as breaking out into hall space and outdoor areas as much as possible. I was always keen to do this with classes in the past, I believe it is important for them to be active and I tried to include some movement of one shape or form within each lesson.

@jodieworld – “When I need to break out of the confines of the classroom, I take the class outside or into the hall.

Notable Tweets from the Session:
@davidhunter – ‘writing formation’ means I can modelsomething and everyone copies. Saw it on making mathsmatter. It works #ukedchat

@ramsay71 – tables in classrooms. Why have tables, deconstruct traditional classroom organisation and have learning centred approach. #ukedchat

@jivespin – the tables in my classroom centre around one circular space to encourage debate. #ukedchat

@HilaryNunns – add variety by changing the seating layout. No rows. Lots of groups. #ukedchat

@jodieworld – I always go all out on my reading/writing inspiration area. All themed. Themes come from childrens’ interests #ukedchat

Tweet of the Week
@ewanmcintosh – I once had my entire class stand on their heads to see the world from another angle. Amazing impact!

About your Host
Paul Hutson is a primary school teacher who has worked in schools in the Middle East and the UK. He is Co-Founder of Night Zookeeper ( a creative children’s website and school project. Paul currently travels the UK delivering Night Zookeeper experiences, which focus on creativity and improving students Literacy, Art and ICT skills. If your school is planning a theme project you can get in touch with Paul on Twitter @nightzookeeper

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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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