The picture you see above is of my students and myself after I received a technology grant, which I used to purchase Chromebooks so that my students can learn using 21st century technology.
I already have 21st century technology. Now, I am on a mission to bring a 21st century learning space to my chemistry classroom. Traditional High School classrooms are gray, gloomy, boring, and most strikingly outdated.
About 3 months ago, I started a movement "Starbucks My Classroom," which quickly caught on social media and many educators in the US and abroad are now transforming their classrooms.
I believe that sitting in one place for close to an hour at a time is detrimental to student learning and health. Getting rid of the traditional seating you see in the picture above and creating a flexible seating space will allow for more movement, which research says is not only healthier, but also more conducive to learning. Student attention span peaks around 8-10 minutes, so allowing and promoting movement provides the necessary short brain breaks that lead to better focus and comprehension.
Our new classroom will look similarly to a coffee shop, and not like the sterile hospital-like room that, let's be honest, is not very attractive or motivating. Innovative companies, such as Google, have successfully utilized similar working spaces to support collaboration, promote more communication, increase creativity, and stimulate critical thinking and problem solving - all of which are skills necessary for success in school and at work.
Google recognized this and now it's time for schools, and the educational system as a whole, to catch on! Our kids deserve it! Our kids need it!
But don't worry. I have lesson plans and activities designed to support the new learning space. I do not plan on standing in front of the students and talking at them or showing PowerPoints so they can doze off and fall asleep.
In fact, I will do quite the opposite. I plan on being in the space with the students as their facilitator and collaborator in learning. I am implementing a blended classroom model, which allows students to use technology to learn in the classroom, with my support, as part of teams, and at their own pace. I possess expertise in brain based learning and know how to lead effective team building and teamwork and how to utilize effective learning strategies. Please take a look at my blog on education if you are interested in learning more about the work I do and the expertise I have.
I will use the funds to purchase affordable and fire-safe furniture from Target to create our new 21st century classroom. The shopping list includes 1 loveseat couch, 2 small armchairs, 2 beanbag chairs, 1 rug, 1 coffee table, 1 side table with 4 stools, 2 shelving units, 8 pillows, 8 ottomans, 2 padded tables, a bench, 2 yoga mats, and 4 exercise balls. I already have a table with 6 chairs, 3 work tables, several chairs, a lamp, 4 frames, and some decorations.
I will update on all progress on my blog and provide pictures of the new room once completed. I will also record a thank you video in which students will talk about the impact of the donations on their learning.
Please check out the Twitter hashtag #StarbucksMyRoom for more information on what I have started and other teachers are doing to get an even better idea of what flexible seating entails.
Earlier today, I created a GoFundMe campaign 21st Century Learning Space to raise funds for this worthy endeavor. I plan on raising $2190 to purchase the items I mentioned above. I am asking for your help. There are 2 ways you can do that:
1. Donate an amount of your choosing here.
2. Share the campaign with others who care about education and enjoy supporting non-profit organizations such as schools. You can do that directly from the campaign page here.
Thank you for your support in making this dream come true for our students. We are grateful for any and all donations. Please know that you can donate anonymously if you wish and that no amount is too small as they all add up to something we can all be proud of: Making a Difference and Affecting Change for the Better.
PS. Remember that you have the power. Use it often.