After much deliberation, I decided on the following design for my classroom, which I believe will foster communication and provide a prosperous learning environment for students.
To begin at the middle of the classroom, assuming there were 20 children in my class, I used semi circle tables to group the children for everyday learning. This encourages communication and collaboration for group work they would be projected to complete, as well as still leaving opportunity for independent learning. The table in the middle of the students provides a space for the teacher or for some students to collaborate in the middle and demonstrate examples of topics covered in class. This could include role-playing scenarios of historical lessons or even hands on examples of chemical science procedures; it is up to the imagination of the teachers and the students, in itself another collaboration effort.
The four corners are the other stand out arrangement in the classroom I created. I intended for these separate areas to urge students to incorporate different mediums for learning, in which they travel around with their desk-mates to each area to research, watch, explore, and lecture the topic of the day. The collaboration process at each rug is endless, and can be altered based on the topic or activity.
1. Research Rug: Denoted by the purple rug and beanbag chairs, this rug allows students to first read up on topic of the day. It entails detailed passages, books, and papers, which discuss the subject of the day's class. It could also include a worksheet to gauge general understanding of the text, where collaboration is established through completion of the assignment together.
2. Watch Rug: The red rug, in the lower left hand corner is the area where students can watch short films and clips pertaining to the topic being discussed in class. Allowing students to watch on screen allows them to engage through means of technology. Students can collaborate at this rug by discussing the videos after
3. Explore Rug: The black and white rug with the laptop computers serves to allow the students to research the topic of the day and learn new facts about the subject. Collaboration here can be completed through sharing interesting details that were gained by each student through investigating on the Internet.
4. Lecture Rug: This rug in the upper right hand corner incorporates the last 8 remaining students. At this rug, one group would be the listeners and sit on the couch, while the other 4 students would give a mini-presentation of their findings on the subject. This presentation would require the utmost collaboration between the lecturer group to decide on the information that they would pass on to their fellow classmates.
These activities would have to be set up in timed intervals, starting at the purple rug and moving in a counter-clockwise motion. While waiting for their turn to begin the sequence, students could be completing other assignments/homework independently or together at their respective group tables, where the last group to begin would be the first lecture-listeners for the first group to complete the circle.
The rationale for this design comes from my own personal opinion that collaboration and communication are both essential tools that need to be passed on to students of all ages, and repeated numerously to increase comfort with public speaking and working with a group, as these skills are very important for students to find early in life, and to perfect such abilities. The physical set up of this room allows for collaboration and communication at many different levels, through many mediums, and allows students to participate with their classmates to further their understanding of a subject.