First lesson with my year 7s

I’ve been pretty excited about th opportunity to use my Agile Learning Space throughout the holidays. I thought I’d take the easy option and capture on film an introductory lesson with my new year 7 class.

I always start by going through class rules and assessment expectations with any class at the beginning of the year. I folded all the flip tables and wheeled them to the perimeter of the room. Students sat on the carpet as I introduced myself and explained the special features of this learning space.

They sat attentively for 20-25 minutes listening to me ramble on. I thought it was time to move. I asked the students to set up the tables, where they wished, around the room – and that each table would accommodate 6 students. After the tables were set I distributed their workbooks, and instructed them to write my name and theirs on the spaces provided on the cover.

I presented a short introduction of the first health topic: “Changes and Challenges”. I wanted to find out what they’ve learned about PDHPE in primary school, so we had a brainstorm activity. You’ll see students bring butchers’ paper to their desks for this task. It was great to see the students engaged and collaborating with this simple activity.

To share their ideas we moved all the tables to the centre of the room and spread the butchers’ paper on top of the tables. We walked around the tables and I remarked on the common themes as well as the differences between the groups’ ideas.

We finished off the lesson by packing the tables away. I wanted to show them the video clip I had just taken, using the iMotion app on my phone. When the tables were packed away, the Year Adviser requested if she could distribute time tables and convey a brief message. The students did get to see the video clip bellow. It was a nice way finish to the lesson.

I would love to hear of any group activities you feel would work well in my Agile Classroom.

Agile Learning Spaces

Agility has been on my mind. Agility is an important concept in PDHPE and sport. The ability to change direction quickly and maintain balance is an essential skill in many sports. It is also a key element in teaching. PE teachers are generally pretty good at chunking lesson time for practical activities – Intro; Warm up; Skill instruction; Drill; minor games etc.

However, do our classrooms provide for the ability to change activities quickly, as we are able to out on the field?  Teachers should be well prepared and skilled in the craft of teaching. Able to adapt, be flexible and resourceful when things aren’t going as planned. However, I believe our learning environment (the classroom) could be more “agile”. I’m not sure who originally coined the term “agile learning spaces”. I picked up this term from Stephen Happell. By this I mean that if your classroom environment is easy to change, to support shifting activities, you are more likely to vary the settings and activities and therefore providing more engaging lessons.

Stephen Happell presents what agile classroom of the future will look like. Well, he presents some already purposely built and in use today. However, for most of us these examples are unattainable.

At the end of 2011 I allocated some of my budget to transform my classroom into a more agile learning space.  At a SMART conference I met David Gordon from UFM solutions. I found him very helpful in advising me how to use my limited finance for best results.

Here is a picture of my classroom:

The main features of the room are the folding mobile tables. They are on wheels, so they are easily moved around the room to accommodate varying activities. They also fold away very easily. I was very sceptical about this function, wondering if can sustain regular student use. However, they seem very sturdy. We used them towards the end of 2011 and were very happy with the way they are constructed. I have set up the desks in two ways just for the photo. One desk (1800mm x 900mm) will seat 6 students comfortably. They were very reasonably priced compared to similar tables in DEC approved sites. I also installed another whiteboard in the classroom. Stephen heppell suggests that there should be “three points of focus” in a learning space.

Agility: The idea is that, on occasions all the tables will be folded away. Students will sit on the carpet for the planned activities. Tables can be put together to hold student conferences etc. I have also added to the room butchers’ paper, housed in a dispenser, for ease of use. Add to this the integration of technology and I am hoping that I have created an agile learning space that will support teachers in shifting activities to better engage our students. (lessons at my school are 75 minutes long).