In September of 2014 we at the ASFM Tech Integration department embarked upon the journey of redesigning experiences such as STEM, Blended Learning, and Spaces. We took a group of educators on the on a week long tour of the possible through various schools and innovative organizations in California. I had previously been on trips of a similar nature when we were rolling out the 1:1 program at Seoul Foreign School and found it to be highly valuable as a new Tech Integration Coach. You don’t know what you don’t know and that trip broadened my horizon of what was possible so I thought we could do the same in Mexico.
Now while the insights compiled on that trip still serves as a valuable insights and was also a great team building event, what often happens is schools go on trips to other schools or search the web for insights and end up adopting someone else's solution. The trouble is that their solution works for their community and when we are talking about space as a Third Teacher, you want to make sure that teacher knows your students. Therefore, I would encourage you to approach insight into concepts rather than tangible solutions. It is the essence of the resources below which have guided us to positive results with the development of spaces.
Learning Space Differentiation in 8 spaces I had been exposed to the 6 spaces of Social media a while back from Ewan McIntosh but have since modified the list to serve as a reference to the status of spaces pre and post redesign. This is an element which has resonated with educators who have attended my “Classroom by Design” workshops and often give them something to put into action now.
1. Hidden Spaces: These are spaces yet to be revealed, reading corners, book knooks, etc which offer an unexpected escape for students. Elementary students love these just as much as middle or high school students. When we don't have these spaces the need to escape manifests itself in hiding out in stair wells and alcoves, which teachers and admin love.
2. Collaboration Spaces: These are spaces where 2-6 students can come together to collaborate for a short or long time with the “Just in Time” resources to work now. These may include prototyping materials, writable surfaces, a monitor, etc. Agility and flexibility is essential to maximize use and effectiveness. This can be low or high tech as your community needs.
3. Publication Spaces: This is where is the story of the space told and to what extent the students can freely post, will indicate the authenticity of the space. These are anchor charts developed by teachers, or store bought displays. These are writable and pegable walls with a democratic ethos of showcasing learning in action. Something we at ASFM have been prototyping is a solution where students can store, display, and gain feedback on a prototype of learning in action, thus going beyond a single function response to a “Participation Space”.
4. Performance Spaces: These are the types of spaces where students can showcase their talents, be someone new, or challenge themselves. Traditionally in schools these are playgrounds, stages and fields but in 2018 we can go broader with this concept. Production studios, mini stages, skate parks, recreational areas, student lounges, open studios, and more can encourage performance,
5. Participation Spaces: Spaces where you the start, end, and entry points are vague but the invitation is compelling. Participation is essential the learning experience in these spaces. These are ideal spaces for what we call “Sparks” or “Stumps”, installations or items without a clearly defined purpose but what users can use for bringing inspirational ideas to life.
6. Data Spaces: These are spaces which share the data of various elements in the community. These can be evolving, analog, or digital and raise awareness, build community, inform a movement, etc.
7. Watching Spaces: Spaces where someone can be alone in comfort and not feel isolated. Diners and airports have great installations for Watching Spaces. There is a major difference between being alone at a table for four or at a bar or hoteling feature and people watching seems to be much more acceptable from these vantage points.
8. Hacked Spaces: This is the last of the 8 to be added and came as a result of spending hours observing classes and noticing that students loved to “Hack Space”. On the spectrum of rough to refined, these spaces are on the rough scale as they are perpetually in beta and allow students ownership over the space. An agile mindset and climate is essential for this to flourish. The question becomes then, how might we create the conditions for students to hack the space to meet their needs in real time?
This is a quick tour through the 8 spaces of learning which I hope you can use as a reference when looking at learning spaces. I am not suggesting that all these spaces need to be present in classrooms, depending on the size of the classroom that may not be possible. What I do propose is that you consider these spaces and the behaviors they encourage. For example, if your lesson and unit plans call for collaboration but you have no Groups Space, space may actually be a constraint to the learning experience you are trying to achieve. Driver towards alignment of space with learning and watch the experience transform.