It all stems from our school vision: "To be a quality learning environment, nurturing the values of C.A.R.E. (Citizenship, Achievement, Responsibility, Effort)" We talked a lot about what that meant and why it's important that we keep this as our focal point. It immediately filtered out some of their more radical ideas. Spa pool seats and trampoline floors were happily kicked to the kerb.
Pity. I was pretty much sold on the spa seating idea.
Then I showed them some images from classrooms of the 70s and 80s and they were horrified at the dullness and uniformity of it all. We discussed what we liked (not much) and what we didn't like about these classrooms. On top of that, I threw in a few juicy anecdotes from my own schooling - Things like rote learning, conformity, sexism, racism and the dreaded strap for minor misdemeanors. Again, they were shocked and beginning to recognise that education changes and evolves with time, knowledge and technology. Hopefully this will spark up some dinner table conversations at home about what quality learning may or may not look like.
At this point, while conducting my own meandering research, I came across this article and shared it with the class: http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/08/to-foster-productivity-and-creativity-in-class-ditch-the-desks/ It raised a few eyebrows.
With the focus firmly on quality learning, they arranged themselves into groups of three. I posed the question: 'What kinds of spaces do we learn best in?' Not really ideal grammar, but it got them started. Here's what they came up with...
From here, we discussed the kinds of furniture and classroom features we would need to create these spaces. Keeping the third, a third, a third rule in mind, the children redesigned their classroom individually. They took some time to consider the spaces needed and came up with much more realistic ideas than previously.
We were already catering for some of these in our present classroom, so next we identified what we wanted to keep and what needed to change....
Then it was the holidays so we all went home for 2 weeks. :)