Friday, May 4, 2012

Kindergarten Classes Rock!

Big K
What is it with kindergarten classrooms being so warm and inviting? From the moment I walk into most kindergarten classrooms I want to run to all the different areas of the room and plop down on the floor and play.....or should I say learn.

Kindergarten classrooms are setup in such a way that just screams collaboration and student centered learning! You will be hard pressed to find rows of desks or a hands off environment. So why is it that first grade classrooms look a little different and by second grade the rows of desks start realigning and by third grade things are looking more like a high school classroom than the inviting kindergarten classroom that seems to foster creativity and exploration? I am being a bit extreme of course, but the vibe of the kindergarten classroom is definitely missing as our students move through the K-12 system and just maybe the idea of how we setup a classroom can go a long way in creating a student centered environment.

Look At It
I was recently speaking with a principal of a 9-12, 1:1 program, and asked them what they expect their classrooms to look like. Their answer was, "a kindergarten classroom," of course you won't find an ABC train across the front wall, but the open and inviting learning atmosphere where evidence of small group instruction and multiple styles of learning are taking place is what they look for.

Build One
So where does one start in building a learning environment that resembles a kindergarten classroom? Maybe a traditional computer lab, with those 20th century rows, would make a good room for a makeover. The computer lab has been morphing into a more collaborative space since the days of the Apple IIe and with space being an issue at many schools, these rooms are often overlooked as being a solution in building a non-threatening place to promote a modern learning environment. For an example of a lab transformation, take a look at what they have done at Verrado Middle School in Litchfield, AZ.

Straight Rows 
There are times when straight rows may be necessary, they make watering crops easier or quickly finding a particular product in a grocery store more convenient. However rows are restrictive and don't create that warm and inviting atmosphere that make you want to plop down on the floor and learn. No matter what grade you teach, if you have a few minutes, stop into a kindergarten classroom and take a look at the room setup, listen to the sounds, and take notice of all the learning that is taking place.  

1 comment:

  1. This is awesome!!!!
    I think the same thing, K and Pre-K are 21st Century learning environments. Not only that, they are what are workplaces would look like. Vibrant collaborative spaces with lots of information radiators.


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