Looking back on the last 12 weeks of study in EDFD459, I am feeling accomplished, proud of my achievements and ready to continue my learning and collaborating with other professionals as I venture back in to the classroom.
The following word cloud contains key words and ideas from this semester.
Coming in to this unit, defining the term ‘learning spaces’ conjured up images mainly of the physical environment. As we worked through each learning space, many a-ha moments widened my new understandings and perceptions of the strengths and challenges for each. The following points depict my learning about each space and the new knowledge from EDFD459 I will implement in my classroom;
- Unique to each individual.
- Can include the physical, the digital and even on a more personal level, the private space.
- Facilitates and enhances an individuals learning.
- Educators should be aware of the importance of a community of practice approach to learning which encourages collaborative and co-operative group learning, the benefits of using a PLN for documenting, synthesizing and reflecting on learning and how the development of a successful personal space will affect the expansion of a positive self efficacy and allow for self directed learning and reflection.
- Important to consider aspects of students personal learning spaces and strategies to employ to make learning more effective.
- Self-contained web portals used for open collaboration, research and group projects.
- May include a number of digital software programs, wikispaces or social media forums.
- In the classroom, technology helps us provide innovative ways of collaborating and sharing learning.
- Are interconnected and have developed from each other.
- Learning is social in nature.
- Group Learning is an independent form of learning that encourages children to work together with a small number of their peers whilst the teacher supports and facilitates.
- Cooperative Learning is an instructional activity that is successful in the classroom because of its development of student interdependence. It is a team approach so all students are required to contribute. It allows students to effectively learn from each other. The teacher clearly states academic and social goals and the students can work towards these.
- Collaborative learning can include group projects or collaborative problem solving where students can connect and work together to explore and search for understanding or solutions for a research topic or meaningful project.
- No place for competition in the classroom. Sharing information and supporting each other as learners (through communities of practice) is the key to building confidence and self efficacy!
- How little the student is consulted in the process of designing their ‘classroom’ environment is surprising as the student is the core of these learning areas.
- If the environment is not appealing or welcoming to them, it may hinder or inhibit their learning.
- Important to consider children’s preferences when planning your classroom space.
- Other factors to consider can be seen below;
- Routine in our lives can be important for success. But routine is different to structure. Our routines should be flexible enough to allow for the development of independence, autonomy, questioning skills, compassion, tolerance and adaptability.
- As our curriculum is changing and we are more aware of developing skills rather than knowledge in our students, a school with a flexible philosophy and structure should appeal to us as educators. A school which supports the social and emotional side of students as well as increasing knowledge of reading and writing would provide a more homely feel, focus on the whole child and the importance of developing these life skills. The importance is still on reading and writing but if the balance is right, this comes more easily.
Beyond the Classroom
- Children learn more through experiencing and reflecting on activities and lessons.
- “Excursions and Incursions bring the outside world and students together in a unique learning opportunity.” (Lorenza 2009)
- “The learning process is enhanced when information is presented in context, which isn’t necessarily a traditional classroom setting.” (Lave & Wenger 1991)
- Numerous hubs in all communities are diverse networks of opportunity and support for not only us as adults but also for our students. Study support, homework clubs, breakfast clubs, kids clubs, summer activities, scouts/guides, mentoring and many other organisations that co-ordinate/provide activities for young people are creating a meaningful connection for young people between them and family, peers, other adults and broader social experiences. The challenge for us as teachers is to seek out and tap in to those networks and support our students involvement in them too.
- Encouraging access to the broader community will increase the child’s learning and development of social and life skills.
- Incorporating the connection of these ‘Beyond the Classroom’ programs in to a class PLN or Blog will enhance our students ‘whole personal growth’.
- Although an uncomfortable time, it is one in which the most meaningful learning can occur.
- It is important for us as teachers to educate our young learners so they know that their learning is a process which will take time and is not as simple as just getting the correct answer.
- Being wrong is part of the learning process too!
- Are we giving our students sufficient time to process their understanding, to linger in the ‘tunnel’ as long as they need and to draw the most they can from the liminal space.
Bringing it all together …
Learning spaces are literally everywhere!
There is one common strand running through and supporting all of our learning areas –
The Community of Practice! Developing a strong, supportive CoP for both staff and students is crucial to the successful formation and support of all key learning spaces for your students!
What will Learning Spaces of the Future look like?
In a perfect world, (and in my classroom) this is what I see future learning spaces of the future will look like…
- Personal learning space preferences will be incorporated in to the classroom so individual learning can be optimised
- Communities of practice will become more common practice in the classroom
- Social media platforms and web portals will become more accessible and widely used as teachers become more informed and comfortable with the technology
- New innovative ways of sharing and collaborating will be woven in to the curriculum.
- Technology will be used as a tool for learning not an outcome.
- Co-operative learning builds confidence and self efficacy and will be used more effectively in the classroom. It requires students to work together as well as contributing individually.
- Students will be consulted when designing the classroom physical layout.
- Physical spaces will be inspiring to both the students and teacher.
- School structure will be tailored to educating the whole child and there will be a balance between developing skills and not only knowledge.
- Teachers support and encourage student involvement in community hubs and networks to develop the whole child.
- More time is given to allow synthesis of knowledge in the liminal space.
- Students are informed about the importance of the liminal space.
- Collaborating, sharing and support is common practice through CoPs.
In order for effective learning to occur, children firstly need their basic needs met. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (as illustrated below) state that the first four levels must be met before the higher fifth level can ‘influence behaviour’.
When we think about educating children in Australia, in most cases thankfully, we can jump to addressing the fourth level – esteem – and build up student confidence as we engage them in new experiences to learn. We know, (again in most cases), that their basic physiological needs are met, they feel safe within the classroom learning environment and they have a sense of belonging within their family, friendship groups, school and larger community.
In this world of extremes though, there are refugee children from Syria who have become displaced from their homes and are struggling to have their basic physiological needs met. These needs become predominant when unmet. During emergency situations, safety needs become dominant. Once the physiological and safety needs are met, the sense of belonging must be addressed. It is important that refugees are encouraged to band together during their difficult time, share experiences and develop trusting friendships and relationships with others. Only when the first four levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are catered for can the highest level of self fulfillment begin. This level is driven by a desire for personal growth and learning.
As Heritage et al (2015) states, the fundamentals of learning in the future can be divided into three aspects; making meaning, participating/contributing and managing learning.
What do we need to achieve these fundamentals?
- a purpose
- ability to connect with prior knowledge
- authentic learning
What can we do without?
What are important driving factors in developing a new learning space design?
- committed, knowledgable and effective educators
- availability of resources
- well researched and planned programs
- collaborative approach to learning
Heritage, M. et al. Fundamentals Of Learning. 1st ed. Los Angeles: University of California, 2015. Web. 27 Oct. 2016.
“How have we adopted such an inhuman response to a humanitarian crisis?”
“The changes that have occurred in education require new and innovative design responses to rethink how schools work, how teachers teach, and how students learn. A $1 billion investment, made possible by Rebuilding NSW, will provide up to 1,600 new or refurbished classrooms and learning spaces throughout the State. This is on top of the Government’s $2.7 billion investment into school facilities over the next four years.”
Saw this and had to add it to my PLN, how true it is! Technology is an ever changing tool which can add a new dimension to learning, collaboration and outcomes.
If you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid ….. (Albert Einstein)
Please take some time to watch this video and listen to the powerful message!
Leave a comment with your thoughts…..