It’s Time: Using Classroom Design to Engage Students

By: Mary Kienstra on: August 26, 2015  in: Engagement

August brings a mixture of emotions for teachers.  On one hand, it’s the end of summer and the freedom that comes with that.  On the other hand, it’s the beginning of a new year and all the possibilities that come with that.   It’s like New Years!  It’s time to start thinking about classroom design and maximizing the learning space.  What are the elements of the physical space that will improve my students’ learning?

I’m ready!  I’m working in my room to get the physical space set up.  I’m rearranging my learning space in response to reading Learn Like A Pirate by Paul Solarz and visiting his classroom.  When I visited Paul’s room, I noticed that the kids had desks, but there were also many other work spaces around the room.  I liked the way that felt and I think my students will enjoy working around the room like that too.

Ttrap tablerapezoid tables are the centerpiece of the room, forming a semi-circle that resembles chairs around a campfire.  I hope to use these the same ways that Paul uses his – as a gathering space.  These will not be students’ primary seats, but will serve as alternate seating for interest groups or for working close to the SmartBoard.  Another nice thing about these tables is that they can easily by moved to accommodate other activities in the room too.   With the trapezoid tables in the center, the students’ desks are clustered along the sides.  These desks will serve as the kids’ “headquarters” and a place to store their learning materials.


The next step was rearranging my classroom library.  The books are separated into fiction and non-fiction.  The libraryfiction novels are arranged in alphabetical order by author and the non-fiction books are by topic.  Fiction picture books have their own section just because they fit there best.  I like the new look and the clean lines on the shelves.  This new arrangement makes the books even more inviting and I hope will help the kids to keep this area organized.

After the physical space is designed for learning, I’ll start working on the lessons and experiences that will engage my students in learning.  This is a time for new beginnings and new opportunities.  I’m making my new year’s resolutions as I get ready for my new school year.  I’m ready and I can’t wait!!


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