Revisioning the Intermediate Classroom Space

April 7, 2015
Tina Doukas
Re-visioning the Interm ediate Classroom Space
How could changes to the physical learning space in an intermediate classroom
support a community of self-regulating learners engaging in deep inquiry?
Significance and background:
§ We are going through a period of great change in education:
o The nature of knowledge and how we learn has changed
o We are changing the curriculum
o Learning tools are changing
o Learners are changing
§ I question whether the traditional vision of the classroom is reflective of our changing times.
§ I wonder how I could change the physical space of the intermediate classroom to make it
reflect my goals:
o positive learning environment
o fostering a community of learners
o empowering students
o creating room for inquiry
W hat I learned from the research:
Butler, Schnellert, & Perry (in press)
To establish a learning
community you can:
1. Create a caring environment
2. Provide opportunities to
play and work collaboratively
3. Recognize, celebrate and
accommodate diversity
4. Afford opportunities for
students to grapple in
meaningful ways with big ideas
(p. 5-5)
Schonert-Reichl & Weissberg (in press)
§ “In addition to focusing on specific instruction in social and emotional skills, SEL is a process
of creating a school and classroom community that is caring, supportive, and responsive to
April 7, 2015
Tina Doukas
students’ needs. Indeed, effective SEL interventions and skill development should occur in an
environment that is safe, caring, supportive, and well- managed, an environment that supports
a child’s development and provides opportunities for practicing the skills.” (p. 3)
Beshuizen (2008):
Six criteria which a learning environment must meet in order to qualify as a community of learners:
§ Students are considered as serious partners in the process of knowledge building.
§ Students and teachers collaborate to answer questions according to the method of inquiry
§ The questions addressed clarify the big ideas of the domain of research.
§ Students are immersed in a culture of scientific research, in which they learn to work with
research methods, rules for collaboration and scientific communication.
§ Students learn to reflect on their work to become aware of the applied methods and rules in
the culture of scientific research, to build principles and schemas on the basis of concrete
research experience and to question the value of the research project for science and society.
§ Students get access to resources and equipment to conduct research projects. (p. 184-185)
Biglan, et al (2012)
§ We should teach, promote and richly reinforce prosociality:
o “Prosociality… involves having the motivation and skills to play meaningful prosocial
roles in society. It also involves having the cognitive, social, self-regulatory and
physical skills to enable performing these roles despite any obstacles.” (p. 260-261)
Schoenfeld (2004):
§ “Building a research culture includes teaching students to frame questions that are
meaningful and answerable, helping them learn to find useful sources of information and then
to unearth the relevant information from it. It involves developing skills of collaboration and
communication. Each of these skills is a major endeavor in itself; trying to do them all at the
same time is extraordinarily difficult.” (p. 242)
Practical Im plications:
§ In my practice, I envision some changes to the physical space that reflect the need for a safe,
supportive, collaborative classroom. Within this classroom, there would be spaces for
teamwork, spaces for investigation and inquiry, and spaces for reflection.
o Create a cozy corner with a carpet, couch and book storage for reading, teaching and
o Use tables instead of desks, that can be reconfigured based on the activity
o Provide movable stools for teamwork
o Acquire cubbies for individual storage of supplies
o Create a private calm-down corner for students to use when feeling emotionally
o Provide investigation areas with materials and resources focused on the area of study
o Make essential questions visible in targeted learning areas
o Create visible student learning goals to help focus on growth
o Use virtual tools for building community connections and reflective practice
April 7, 2015
Tina Doukas
Beishuizen, J. (2008). Does a community of learners foster self-regulated learning? Technology,
Pedagogy and Education, 17(3)
Biglan, A., Flay, B. R., Embry, D. D., & Sandler, I. N. (2012). The critical role of nurturing environments
for promoting human well-being. American Psychologist, 67(4), 257-271. doi:10.1037/a0026796
Butler, D. L., Schnellert, L., & Perry, N. E. (in press). Chapter Five and Chapter Six. To appear in
Developing Self-Regulating Learners. Don Mills, ON: Pearson.
Schoenfeld, A. H. (2004). Multiple learning communities: Students, teachers, instructional designers,
and researchers. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 36(2), 237-255.
Schonert-Reichl, K. A., & Weissberg, R. P. (in press). Social and emotional learning during childhood.
In T. P. Gullotta & M. Bloom (Eds.), Encyclopedia of primary prevention and health promotion,
2nd edition. New York: Springer Press.