Innovation is a hot topic in education, and teachers are constantly being asked to be innovative in their classrooms. But what exactly is classroom innovation?
In her recent blog post on innovation in education, Beth Holland describes innovation as “something that is not only novel and an improvement, but also impactful and meaningful.” For her, innovation in education means, “students have the opportunity to assume new roles and responsibilities as active learners; that they participate in meaningful, authentic learning opportunities; and that they wrestle with complexity.”
Here are some innovative techniques teachers are using to change the dynamic of the classroom and more actively engage students in their learning:
Promoting Learning via Flexible Spaces
Shifting around the furniture in a classroom, coupled with a reorganization of the space is an easy way to enable more creative thinking and deeper engagement. Long Island’s Baldwin schools are successfully using this technique to bring more innovative instruction to the district.
Interested teachers submit an application outlining their instructional goals and the classroom design needed to support them. When an application is accepted, a classroom is developed to meet the needs of a specific teacher and their students. The result is that every redesigned classroom in the district looks different.
Ann Marie Lynam, a seventh-grade social studies teacher in the district, needed a multi-functional classroom with a mobile layout to address the diverse needs of her students. Her redesigned classroom has no front, everything is on wheels, and students have a number of different seating options:
- A raised, kidney-shaped table that seats six for small-group teaching
- Classroom desks arranged in groups to facilitate discussion on class assignments
- Students’ choice of either a comfortable ottoman or sofa when working in a small group.
Lynam was blown away by how the redesign impacted student interaction. The room setup encouraged conversation, and students who never spoke up were now talking animatedly with classmates. The group seating created a situation in which students could serve as a resource for one another.