How often are students given the chance to design their own classroom environment? Should students be the designers? After all, they are the learners and the reason for which the school exists. What would a student do differently?
This assignment allows students to visualize a new school environment for themselves and address existing problems in the school. Problems that the students address can be given more complexity based of the grade of the student. Teachers should have student think about several aspects of their school including:
- What is most useful for them that they have access to already. What would be useful that they don’t have now.
- How students interact within the school and how that could change, for better or for worse.
- What would be promote learning, socializing, engaging, and participating in each classroom? Would each student have a cubicle or work area? Would they have open space to lay down or spread out while they worked? Would the teacher sit in the middle of the room to give all the students a better view?
- What are their favorite parts of the school right now? What else would they like to see?
- What current rules could bend for a better/more student friendly school?
- 18×24″ diagram of school
- Group model of redesigned school
- 18×24″ paper
- Drafting materials:pens, pencils, markers, rulers
- Cardboard boxes
- Mixed building materials: tissue paper, clay, glue, etc…
- 3-d modeling
In order to examine all these questions, teachers should lead a discussion with their students, perhaps even in the form of a class-wide debate, figuring out aspects that are and aren’t working for their school. The class will compile together a list.
Once the list is made, teams will be assembled to draw a large diagram of their ideal school. Teams will consist of 4-5 students, and each student will have a particular area of the school that they will address.
After creating their diagram, teams will then break up the school into sections. Each student will make their own 3-dimensional diagram of their section using cardboard boxes as containing walls and mixed materials for the inner parts. They will combine their diagrams to make a complete school.
Once each team has created their ideal school, they will present to the class their diagram and explain each aspect that they designed, also using their diagram to help them explain. Teachers could also bring peer teachers and administrators in to see the diagrams and hear student ideas for improving the school.