Inspired Spaces for Learning: Nurturing Ideas through Thoughtful Space Design

img_0611The following is a guest post by Dr. Jennifer Williams. Dr. Williams is a globally minded educator that works with classrooms of the world to connect learning and experience through meaningful uses of technology. She is a literacy specialist and professor at Saint Leo University, and she serves on the Board of Directors for the International Literacy Association. You can connect with Jennifer on Twitter at @JenWilliamsEdu and learn more about her work by visiting www.calliopeglobal.com. A space for creation. A space for reflection. A space for inspired thought. As teachers, we are constantly seeking ways to create these spaces for our students as they come to us in their journeys of learning. The prepared environments of our classrooms become places where students, just as they enter through the doors, know they will have opportunity to explore inventive thought in a process of wonder and discovery.  Through intentional design, we as teachers can thoughtfully create these spaces to nurture ideas and awaken the collective spirit of imagination for our classrooms of students. And, as we look at the individual passions of our students, we may just find that these inspired spaces could be a special spot in a classroom, a page of a notebook, a playground bench, or a virtual canvas for creation. Inspired Classroom Spaces for Students In recent years, the learning space design movement has brought focus to the importance of incorporating voice and choice and flexibility in the building of classroom environments. Outfitted with options for seating and spaces for visibly displaying thinking, classrooms are readied to move to the next level of consideration essentially developing from questions of first why and then what to now how and how might we. Inspired spaces become more about incorporating the unique passions of learners—reflecting the identities and personalities of the students that each call it “my classroom” for their year of residence. As you work to create an inspired space for your students, here are some ideas to get you started: Create welcoming entryways. The first moment students walk into the classroom influences the entire learning experience. Consider these entryway ideas: o   greet each student at the door as he or she enters; eye contact and a simple greeting can make all the difference in the start of the day o   clear the entryway of major pieces of furniture o   add a small entryway table that displays a few items that are meaningful to the class community o   invite students to place fresh cut flowers from gardens on entry tables Appeal to all the senses. o   select and play music that reflects the learning of the day: upbeat to motivate or calming to settle the soul o   carefully consider lighting with options including small lamps, flashlights, and natural light o   watch the temperature: keep your kids warm on cold days and cool on hot ones Find little ways to cherish and celebrate your class as a community. o   frame and display printouts of the school and class missions o   resist making students “put away” in-process work by allowing them to move projects to areas that can be returned to later in the day or in the week o   carefully build in time in the day for collaborative discussion and also quiet reflection bunceejen Inspired Virtual Spaces for Students With opportunities to extend thought to virtual spaces, students today have possibilities that extend past the physical walls of the classroom. Buncee as a creation tool offers inspired spaces for students to document ideas, express thoughts and emotions, and capture creative perspectives that they may have in their understandings of lessons and of their worlds. With incredible options for design, Buncees become digital canvases for students as artists and digital blueprints for students as inventors. Students are provided creative choice within the platform and have the ability to customize each detail from background color to font style to personalized drawings.  With Buncee as an inspired space for evidencing knowledge, students quickly shift from being passive consumers of information to becoming active creators of content with the ability to make sophisticated multimodal artifacts with embedded images, weblinks, videos, and animations. Inspired classrooms spaces paired with inspired virtual spaces of Buncee offer supportive environments where students can feel safe to take risks and explore creative thought with intention. If Buncee is new to you and your students, consider these ideas: o  invite students to use Buncee in the prewriting process to document ideas o  connect thoughts to images by having students take and upload photographs to Buncee to make a digital creations o  encourage students to make “North Stars,” personal missions, or #oneword story Buncees to help identify and frame individual goals and objectives o  join in with a Buncee Buddies program to extend learning and friendships to a global network of students and teachers As you look to create inspired spaces for your students, consider also spaces that bring inspiration and balance to your life as a teacher. What are the treasured tokens in your inspired spaces that encourage you each day? How might your workspaces be reimagined to uplift and fuel your spirit as an educator? Please join in and share your inspired space Buncees with the hashtag #inspiredspaces. Let’s together find ways to bring in our passions to our own learning spaces and follow in the other meaning of inspiration that reminds us to “breathe in,” find balance, and take in each wonderful moment. screenshot-2016-11-14-17-36-29

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