Monday, June 15, 2015

Classroom Digital #LearningSpace: the students have spoken

My 21st century digital learning space has been in place for a couple of months now.  As the year is winding down, I am already starting to make plans in my mind for next year. I need to reflect on what is currently in my classroom, and ask myself the question: Where do I go from here?


As educators, we need to use data to back up decisions that we make about our pedagogy and classroom practices.  So, I turned to the experts: my students.

This morning, I put a QR code on the projector screen, and without any instructions, my class got out the iPads and laptops, scanned the code, and completed the survey.

Want to take a look at the survey questions?  Click HERE.

                                                                 or use the QR code?

So, what did I find out?  The results surprised me.  Above all else, I was surprised by how positive they were. Why? Well, with the amount of pushback throughout the year, and the strong resistance to change, I was expecting more negative or ambiguous feedback on the survey.

The results are in. 

Here is what my intermediate (Grade 7/8) students had to say:

Question #1.

Classroom learning configurations.

Using our Ontario Level System (Level 1 is low, Level 4 is high), the students rated how they liked to learn in the classroom space.  Students were asked to rank each, not put them in order, so a student could choose level 3 for each, for example.
  •  "CAVE" is a quiet, independent work space, which in our classroom is in the back room, at an individual computer desk with rolly chair, or in a cubicle outside the door.
  • "WATERING HOLE" is working in  small group, either at the purple collaboration tables, the standing height tables with stools, or at the cafe tables
  • "CAMPFIRE" is whole class discussions. Usually we pull our chairs into a whole class circle for this
  • MOUNTAIN TOP is when someone is at the front, presenting, lecturing or demonstrating.  Usually, this is the students and guest speakers.  I try to limit the amount of whole class lecture-style instruction and make it minimal each day.

Question #2.

Seating plan or no seating plan?

Seating plans. 80 % of students don't want them.  Interestingly, the 20% of students who preferred that the teacher create the seating plan are the students who have more difficulty in social situations. Currently, there is NO seating plan in my classroom. Perhaps next year I can find a way to incorporate a seating plan for some, while allowing others the choice. Something to ponder further, for sure.

Question #3.

What are the things that you like most about our learning space?

This was an open response question, and I got a wide variety of answers.
"It is good to focus on work."
"There is a lot of space to work."
"I like how we have the standing desks and a reading area at the back of the room."
"I like how everything gets to be a group collaboration because of the big seating tables we have." 
 "Many choices of where you want to sit. Different seating arrangements." 

Question #4.

What do you like least about our learning space?

Most responses to this question were "nothing". That's encouraging.  The rest of the feedback was about the small cubby area where I have been having them put their binders at the end of the day.  Because it was a mid-year transition from individual desks to our new learning space, many have had a hard time adapting to organizing their belongings and keeping items in their locker or in a shared shelf space.

Next year, they will be be using this system from the beginning so hopefully there will be better management of  their "stuff". Also, we will be using GAFE from the first day, so NO MORE ENORMOUS BINDERS!!!

Question #5.

What are some changes you would like to see in our learning space?

By overwhelming majority, the answer was "none". A few requests for a couch (if only I had a larger room) and a designated art area was a wonderful suggestion (I already had it in the works for next year).

Question #6.

How has the new classroom changed the way you learn at school?

I got THE BEST responses to this question. Many students responded positively about iPads, laptops, and the easy access to information. The ability to collaborate was also tops in their books.

"It's more interactive than before."
"I don't always work with the same people each time. I work with different people at times to times since we're allowed to sit where ever we want and having the iPads are way easier than using paper all the time (sic)"
"Learning is actually interesting with how we can project our iPad images on the SmartBoards. It makes it more interesting and fun." 
"It made it more fun and easy to collaborate with different people." 
"It's improved my marks by getting input by people at the group tables. It's also fun working together."
Now, in my classroom, there is very little emphasis on marks. We talk about learning - and focus on feedback. I'm assuming that marks=learning in this student's mind - so that's a win if that's the case.

I love working with students in my new classroom learning space. What's holding you back? Start planning for next year to transform the learning in your classroom!

 Read more about the transformation in my classroom this year:

Classroom Design: A Reading Room
21st Century Intermediate Learning Space: A Pilot Project
21st Century Learning Space: No seating plan required
21st Century Digital Learning Space: My Classroom Makeover


  1. Thank you so much for sharing the data from your class! I'll be looking at your results as I move forward with my own classroom in the new school year. It will be interesting to see what next year's students say about learning in this space since they'll have it for the whole year (also your 7s will become your 8s, and be used to it). What is *your* favourite space in the classroom? :)

  2. My fave is the cafe tables because it makes a great conference area for me with the students individually - and it is private enough that they feel comfortable to chat with me. I'm looking forward to next year to - and I can't wait for my Ss moving to MSS to be in your classroom!