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Last week I spent a day shadowing students through their day to experience a true day in the life of a fourth grader. While there were many exceptional learning experiences, one that was eye-opening for me occurred during an iDesign DEEP discovery phase, which exemplified one of our School’s principles and practice that Learning Demands Flexible and Interactive Spaces.

Mary Cantwell arrived in Mrs. Gunter’s classroom and discussed with students the need for change and movement in the classroom to spark their creative thinking. Beginning by encouraging movement, Mary unlocks and moves a bookshelf, opening up a large square of classroom space. (See Mary’s blog about it!)

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Not only did Mary advocate for students to move their desk arrangements to maximize groupings for three, but students swapped out their seating as well to maximize this flexible learning change. Who wants to swap seats? Who has been sitting on a wobbly stool and is ready to share with a classmate?

10. Shuffle the deck: Change up the locations of regular activities so children can explore new surroundings with their bodies and their minds. The Third Teacher

After desks were moved and seats (or not) arranged, students had a renewed energy to discover and brainstorm problems that they are truly passionate about solving. Some students were on wiggle stools, some on foam squares, some in chairs, and some standing… but all were on task.

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In the end, students had cleared enough pathways to jump from table to table for the first gallery walk share out. Their newly creating paths and space made this a comfortable transition.

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I’ve enjoyed reading and relating our School to the suggestions in The Third Teacher, and I especially love comparing the authors’ views on transforming teaching and learning to our innovated learning spaces, our School’s mission as well as our principles and practice and the everyday experiences of our students. The authors urge us to…

” 11. Make it new: Look at your learning space with 21st-century eyes: Does it work for what we know about learning today, or just for what we knew about learning in the past?” The Third Teacher

Taking the time to interact with our space to maximize learning can reap huge benefits in students’ experiences.