When considering the physical space of the classroom I thought about how to arrange furniture to promote student collaboration and fluid movement throughout the classroom. I no longer needed a 'front' of the classroom but I did need spaces that allowed students access to each other, devices, and other resources in the classroom.
Our classroom has 6 round tables. These are essential in promoting collaboration, a crucial part of blended learning. Students choose where they want to sit throughout the day. They may start the day at one table during the ELA block and end up at a different table later for math. The placement of tables is meant to allow fluid movement throughout the classroom.
Our classroom has 2 collaboration stations, each station is a large half-round table containing a 31 inch flat screen connected to a Mac Mini. Each station has a Belkin Rockstar splitter with 5 sets of headphones. The larger screen allows groups of students to all see the same information and the shape of the table is perfect for discourse and collaboration.
Our classroom is surrounded by white boards. The large white boards were provided by our district. The small half sized white boards I purchased at Home Depot for $9.00 each and hung on the wall with Command Strips. These white boards are invaluable and used every day. Students use them to organize their thinking, practice, and share learning.
Our classroom has 5 Mac Air laptops and 5 iPads for about 25 students. We are not one-to-one, devices to students. This is purposeful, limiting devices promotes collaboration. During those times when every student needs a device (such as testing) we borrow a cart of 15 laptops to add to our classroom devices.
Because collaboration is such an important part of our blended learning environment headphones and splitters are other important items. Students' school supply list includes headphones or earbuds. They store these in either their book tub or drawer (see Organization). Our district then provides 5 sets of headphones and a splitter box but I have found I also need 2 Belkin Rockstar Splitters and 10 2-prong splitters. I found these on Amazon.
Finally, I looked at my Pinterest inspired, personally pleasing, work of art (at my own expense) of a classroom and asked who is this space for? Well, it was definitely designed for me and my pleasure, my idea of cuteness. I then transformed that environment into a clean, fluid, student-centered learning space. I designed the space with students in mind so that the environment allowed easy movement, collaboration, and space for students to learn and produce together. In otherwords... the classroom space is now designed for students not me. They may easily move throughout the room individually or in small groups. They can float to one of the many white boards or one of the two collaboration stations. Devices and other materials are easily accessable. The space is theirs.