Absolutely - UFM Solutions @ufmsolutions @daviegordon. They have been working with us - very creative and very innovative. Great furniture too.
What if we could bring architects, computer companies, furniture designers, builders, philanthropists, leaders, educators, students, creative thinkers together in one place and time. What if those people could focus their skills and talents on the needs of the developing world. What if we could make a difference!
Can we create an environment where the collision of great ideas shapes a solution?
I have taken on a challenge. How might I contribute to changing the education experience for children in the northern Rwandan region of Musanze - at the foothills of the Volcanoes NP and the home of the mountain gorillas.
How might I place the needs of the schools in this area on to the world map?
It’s early days - but I am thinking of locating an ‘Open Space’ conference in the region - a conference that workshops ideas to help address the challenging needs of the schools.
Thinking a title for the conference might be something along the lines of ‘International partnerships for transforming learning in developing nations’.
I have recently had the great pleasure of visiting Northern Beaches Christian School(NBCS) in Terrey Hills, a northern suburb of Sydney. Under the visionary leadership of Stephen Harris, the change management over the last 6 years has seen an incredible transformation take place in the pedagogic, virtual and physical spaces at the Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning (SCIL), the research based organisation playing out its mission at NBCS. Walking through the school was a refreshing experience full of amazing settings for learning where children of all age groups are engaged, confident with their place and enjoying collaborating with each other.
It’s about integration and opportunity in providing different settings for learning – integration of ubiquitous technology, a myriad of furniture designs focused on various groupings, opportunities for clever design solutions that turn a staircase into a place of creativity, a wall surface into a seamless whiteboard, and a feeling of calm interaction between staff and students. I would challenge everyone with a passion for understanding successful learning environments to visit the school or study the publications or browse the web resources available on this amazing example of a truly 21st century learning environment.
It is wonderful to be stimulated by such a rich experience in visiting Northern Beaches Christian School!
Read the full article in:
There are so many aspects of traditional ‘schooling’ that need re-examination. One of those is the place of desks and chairs in the 21st century classroom. People talk about needing to have furniture (desks and chairs) that have great ergonomics - but as many educators know, students won’t be sitting still in chairs for long and many students find confinement to a set chair and desk as something akin to being in prison.
This scenario creates a great opportunity to re-think what type of furniture could be used in learning spaces. Our experience is that the more a space “feels like their lounge room”, the more students will slide into learning mode as a natural action.
Some excellent resources to spur ‘future’ thinking:
Challenge: how to best use an unexpected space for design and technology classes; a space created when a sport’s hall (BER funded) was raised up a level?
Answer: create a team of thinkers who will inhabit the space and open their thinking to new thoughts - not by visiting other schools, but by visiting converted warehouses, office spaces stripped back to a ‘raw’ feel, a converted printery and converted railway yards.
Result: (a work in progress) some really creative thinking that will involve layers of acoustic control; highly flexible transparent space dividers; the ability to create learning spaces via the use of a ceiling-mounted track system; maintain high visibility so that the space does not lose its ‘spaciousness’ - would like to be able to “see” right through the space still; IDEA paint panels used as flexible whiteboards on tracks; saturation mobile technolgies; an interior timber balcony near the windows … and lots of anticipation … stay tuned … “watch this space”!!
Tomorrow’s School Today is a project of the Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning - www.scil.com.au
The equation for learning has changed:
180 students + 1 classroom + 6 teachers = improved learning + zero behaviour issues + fun
What needs to change so that learning is more relevant to the 21st century context?
It needs to look at every aspect of the learning journey with a different ‘pair of glasses’.
If we want to:
- enable the learning experience to be more independent, self-directed, enjoyable, friendly
- establish lifelong learning patterns
- improve learning outcomes
- support the teachers to be comfortable with new ways of doing things
- provide mobile access to information
- integrate curriculum so that the learners can make new connections
- create a community where all are respected and all contribute
Then we need to:
o alter existing spaces to cater for the new goals
o create collaborative staff teams to share the journey
o think in new ways about class sizes, lesson planning and learning experiences
o saturate the learning environment with digital devices to support the learning
o allow the change to be led by pedagogy, not technology
Tomorrow’s School Today links space and learning so that students are better prepared for a changing world. In practical terms, it has seen the remodelling of an existing space (the old library) into a purpose-created space for 180 students at Stage 3 level (Years 5 & 6). The six teachers have united into one collaborative team and all work is conducted as a cohesive unit.
A typical day will have 4 learning sessions:
Literacy block - Numeracy block - Integrated Studies (The Journey) - Learning Area Studies (e.g. Italian, PDHPE). The students will have different combinations of teachers depending on their current grouping for literacy, numeracy and their home teacher.
Tomorrow’s School Today has embraced thinking skills development in line with the P21 Framework. http://www.p21.org
For education to find its direction in the twenty first century, there has to be a degree of speculative analysis as to likely patterns in global developments, an appreciation for the impact of new technologies on the learning environment, a willingness to lead activity, an awareness of spatial concepts as relevant to learning and an examination of the types of skills required for innovative thinking.
The P21 framework includes a focus on:
Learning and Innovation Skills
· Creativity and innovation
· Critical thinking and problem solving
· Communication and collaboration
Information, Media and Technology Skills
· information literacy
· media literacy
· ICT literacy
“After more than 3 decades in schools, I have finally seen an approach that truly engages students and personalizes and differentiates their learning. Ironically, the answer does not lie in creating smaller classes, but rather in one class of 180 students; 6 teachers; one flexible space; lots of creative, collaborative teamwork and planning. The result - learning in abundance!” Mr. Stephen Harris, Principal NBCS
When creating a new multimodal, multimedia ‘library’, our best decision was not in creating an iconic and distinctive building, but to realistically appraise the ‘book situation’ and decide to create two satellite mini-libraries for K-6 and send about 90% of the Years 7-12 collection to the classrooms. There the books are used. In a library they sit in shelves not borrowed.
This in turn creating an amazing opportunity – to take a flexible open space and turn it into a true playground for learning. The result – our SCIL Building with its interwoven learning spaces led by pedagogy, not technology. The space itself can shape the learning pathway and help teachers make the jump to the 21st century context. And the kids love it!
More and more we see the power of built pedagogy - the ability of space to define how one teaches
Diana Oblinger http://www.educause.edu/learningspacesch1” —
1. Support the innovative ideas of your teachers
2. Create time for teachers in teams to exchange ideas and devise strategies for implemention
3. Grow the capacity of every teacher – believe in everyone’s capacity to grow and advance the vision
4. Empower teachers in practical ways – and value their input
5. Align existing and planned learning spaces around the learner and their learning experience
One way that we have used to promote excitement in the vision is to empower any teacher to become associates of the school’s research and innovation unit SCIL - the Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning www.scil.nsw.edu.au. We’re thinking of ways to enable others to become SCIL Associates and share the journey.
For the last few years, the six teachers working in Stage 3 (Years 5 & 6) at NBCS have been developing a differentiated learning program. As a former primary school teacher – as well as current Principal, I recognise that what this team is now achieving collectively is the most exciting, successful and efficient program for this age group that I have seen in my 30+ years of teaching. The new teaching space and collaborative learning project has been badged ‘Tomorrow’s School Today’ and we will officially launch the space and program on April 7th.
What is working well?
· The teachers are a team first and foremost, rather than individuals looking for their own space within a larger ‘field’
· The teachers understand that they have a class of 180
· Students appreciate and really enjoy having six teachers on their super-class
· Students understand they have one ‘home’ teacher, but also multiple other teachers on any day who also view them as their students
· A flexible space able to cater for ‘campfire’, ‘watering hole’, ‘mountaintop’ and ‘cave’ experiences
· A flexible space that can cater for spontaneous teaching moments
· Teachers view themselves as learners with the students
What does the day look like?
· Students start with a peer reading program ahead of a literacy block; students are shuffled into needs based groups across the stage
· This is followed by a numeracy block, with students similarly placed into need based groups across the stage
· The Stage 3 Matrix (the Journey) follows in the third block – with an emphasis on individual goal-focused learning, based around a Blooms/Gardner framework; workshops are provided in core skills and to help grow thinking into new areas
· The last Block is dedicated to specialist subjects including Italian, Music, PDHPE and the like
· Each student experiences their own sequence of teachers based on evidenced needs
· Behaviour management has become all but redundant as the students focus so strongly on their learning
· Students stretch their goals to achieve more
· Students are experiencing an acceleration of learning
· Students are learning about and experiencing community
· Best of all, students are having fun and shining as leaders and learners
Multiple educators have come and had a good look – we love this as it also provides an opportunity for our students to articulate their learning pathways, styles and achievements. Feel free to visit us – just contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Northern Beaches Christian School (twitter @SCIL) is moving into the future by re-conceptualising learning spaces.
- What if schools were no longer organised around separation, but collaboration?
- What if space became flexible and there were no longer 50 classrooms to allocate, rather 100 spaces from which to choose?
- What if inquiry-based collaborative learning became the predominant paradigm?
- What if students were empowered to learn?
- What if school was not only deeply engaging, but fun as well?
1. Remove traditional furniture including all rectangular / square desks and associated chairs
2. Remove any whiteboard that suggests one ‘teaching’ location
3. Introduce ‘IDEA Paint’ on to as many surfaces as possible so that students and teachers can write in multiple places at the one time
4. Choose furniture that allows students to feel ‘at home’
5. Use mobile personal digital devices in a wireless environment
Some sectors of human activity such as medicine, transportation and communications were transformed beyond recognition during the twentieth century. Compared with such megachange the practices of school have been virtually static. Seymour Papert 1995
Therein lies a challenge - accelerate that megachange in the classroom!” —