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How Will You Redesign Your School Over The Next Six Months?
"I was talking with architects from the AIA’s Committee for Architecture for Education last week, discussing — along with my superintendent — our school system philosophy of the intersection of space design, technology, and pedagogy. And at the end Karina Ruiz — a West Coast school designer — asked,
“But what if educators don’t have a building project right now?”

And I paused. We had been talking about our journey from opening up a few walls to building truly flexible spaces, from offering kids seating and writing choices to a move toward eliminating single-teacher classrooms, but our presentation was, indeed, geared toward building.

“Everybody always has a building project,” I finally said.

Because every school should be changing all the time. And should be changing with a purpose — moving from adult centered teaching spaces to child centered learning spaces — moving from static environments to flexible environments — moving from controlling design to inspiring design.

Every school needs a building project every year, because you don’t need contractors and bulldozers to change a school environment — you just need commitment.

So if you can’t do the expensive stuff — you can still do the effective stuff. So here are four things you can do to change your school’s space.

One: Give your kids the gift of daylight.

Walk into many classrooms and you’ll see the windowsills piled high with stuff — often adult stuff. You also may see shades or blinds pulled down.

Well, in order to maintain healthy attention kids need three things that are often in short supply in schools — fresh air, large muscle movement, and daylight. One of the easiest to fix, in many schools, is daylight.

Open those blinds and shades. If it’s not a lockdown or the sun blazing in full bore, open them and keep them open. Limit anything on the windows that obstructs the view — kids benefit from being able to see where they are on the earth.

Now clear off those windowsills. That’s not a storage spot — it’s a prime place for children. Make it easy to sit there, make it comfortable.

If you just do this in every classroom you will have rebuilt your school. Attention will go up, discipline problems will go down. Guaranteed.

Two: Get rid of teacher desks.

Or at least dramatically shrink the space teachers claim for themselves.

Listen — when I observe a classroom I really don’t look at the teacher, I watch kids, listen to kids, look for the variety of what kids are doing and how they are doing it — but — an opening ‘fail’ is walking into any classroom and seeing a teacher sitting at their teacher desk. Why would any teacher separate themselves from their students like that?

The teacher’s desk is an ugly remnant of a time when uninvolved teachers led ineffective classes, they really need to vanish. But if they cannot vanish completely, they need to become small spots used for effective one-on-one or one-on-two conversations. Storage can be in one modest-size cabinet against a wall.

If you want to increase learning space, you get rid of space used for — well, something else.

Walking a middle school a year ago with the principal we came across one classroom where the teacher had built — essentially — a tiny house, and a tiny house blocking student access to half of the room’s windows. Looking at the ceiling grid I noted that this teacher had carved out an 8x16–128 square foot living room. There was a presidential-size desk, a pseudo oriental rug, book cases, a coffee maker, and all kinds of personal images: 16% of the classroom space was walled off from kids.


That’s extreme but it’s not that unusual, and it needs to stop. Classrooms belong to children.

So get rid of teacher desks. Or at least shrink them and push them completely away from the windows. In every classroom.

Your school will see it’s learning space increase by 10%.

Three: Keep all of your classroom doors open.

Easy, right? No cost, no moving anything. But transformational.

The most obvious way to build transparency and openness into your educational environment is to open classroom doors and create the notion of ‘the commons.’ Opening doors will make your school noisier and more active. It will convert corridors from waste space to instructional space. It will allow kids who need a different kind of space to have it and yet — remain supervised.

Obviously it will do something else. The talk we gave to the architects was titled “Space that forces change — Change that forces space.” Opening doors will make your teachers change what they do. Noisier environments mean that teacher voice must change. You can’t really yell over it, you have to talk under it, and thus move away from mass instruction.

It does one more key thing — it reveals great teaching and encourages teachers who struggle to collaborate with those great teachers.

So make this an absolute rule: classroom doors stay open.

Four: Let kids sit where they want, if they want.

We have this saying, “a kid can’t walk into any classroom, kindergarten through 12th grade, and choose where, how, or if to sit — we aren’t teaching them to make decisions, which means we aren’t teaching them very much at all.”

This is important. The act of controlling seating, like the act of controlling toilet use, or food and drink, is an act which shatters the possibility of real trust between teachers and children. It’s an act which prevents children from learning how to define their own work environment (If you’d like — it’s an act that leads directly to failure in the first year of college.) It’s also an act which makes the classroom a fight, for you have created rules that work against child learning and a rule that makes no sense to kids.

So stop doing it. Eliminate the rule across the school. Focus on comfort and good choices instead of compliance. Use phrases like, “wouldn’t you be more comfortable standing up? [lying down? by the window? sitting in the hall?]” Or even, “is that space working for you?”

Another guarantee — the entire mood of your school will change.

There. Four ‘quick fixes.’ Quick but not easy. Instead of sledge hammers you’ll need full admin support and peer pressure. You’ll want to document and talk about the changes. You’ll need to see where the design needs tweaking. And most of all, you’ll need patience.

Rebuilding a school creates mess at first. Your kids will need time to learn new patterns — and learn how to make good choices. That’s why these are six month construction projects. Three months to plan and get consensus. Three more to make it work."
irasocol  2017  schools  education  change  adaptability  flexibility  schooldesign  sfsh  furniture  doors  desks  light  seating 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Rule of Three and other ideas
"and other handy thoughts: so many folks have asked me for a "quick start" set of rules for the design of 3rd Millennium learning spaces...
... this Rule of Three section and some of the other ideas here (see top of this page), have all been well received in conferences, seminars and most importantly adopted / shared with success by practitioners. These are proven, working ideas, so I thought it was time to park some of them on a web page:

***

rule of three - physical

I guess rule one is really that there is no absolutely right way to make learning better - schools are all different, their communities, contexts vary and as I have often observed on a windy day they become different places again. So you build your local recipe for great learning from the trusted and tested ingredients of others, adding a bit of local flair too. But this rule of three helps:

one: never more than three walls

two: no fewer than three points of focus

three: always able to accommodate at least three teachers, three activities (for the larger spaces three full "classes" too)

make no mistake - this is not a plea for those ghastly open plan spaces of the 1960s with their thermoplastic floors under high alumina concrete beams - with the consequent cacophony that deafened their teachers. Today's third millennium learning spaces are multi-faceted, agile (and thus easily re-configured by users as they use them), but allow all effective teaching and learning approaches, now and in the future, to be incorporated: collaborative work, mentoring, one-on-one, quiet reading, presentation, large group team taught groups... and more.

***

rule of three - pedagogic

one: ask three then me

A simple way to encourage peer support, especially in a larger mixed age, stage not age space, but it even works fine in a small 'traditional" closed single class classroom. Put simply the students should ask 3 of their peers before approaching the teacher for help. I've watched, amused in classes where a student approaches the teacher who simply holds up 3 fingers, with a quizzical expression and the student paused, turned and looked for help for her peers first. Works on so many levels...

two: three heads are better than one

Everyone engaging in team teaching reports that, once you get over the trust-wall of being confident that your colleagues will do their bit (see Superclasses) the experience of working with others, the professional gains, and the reduction in workloads are real and worthwhile. You really do learn rapidly from other teachers, the children's behaviour defaults to the expectations of the teacher in the room with the highest expectations, and so on. Remarkably schools especially report on the rapid progress of newly qualified teachers who move forward so quickly that people forget they are still NQTs. And older teachers at career end become rejuvenated by a heady mix of new ideas and of self esteem as they see that their "teaching craft" skills are valued and valuable.

three: three periods a day or fewer

Particularly in 2ndary schools a fragmented timetable of 5 or 6 lessons a day wastes so much time stopping and starting. Children arrive and spend, say, 3 minutes getting unpacked, briefed and started, then end 2 minutes before the "bell" and have 5 minutes travelling time between classes. On a 5 period day that is (3+2+5) x 5 = 50 minutes "lost" each day, 50 x 5 = 250 lost each week, which is effectively throwing away a day a week. Longer blocks, immersion can be solid blocks of a day of more, some schools even adopt a week, gets students truly engaged - and serves as a clear barrier to Dick Turpin teaching ("Stand and Deliver!") - which simply cannot be sustained for long blocks of time - thank goodness. This doesn't mean that the occasional "rapid fire" day (a bit like pedagogic Speed Dating!) can't be used to add variety. But longer blocks of time work better mainly.

***

rule of three - BYOD / UMOD

some schools adopting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), or more recently Use My Own Device (UMOD - somehow, bringing them wasn't enough!) initially adopted really comprehensive "acceptable use policies" - bulging folders of policy that were neither understood nor adhered too (see for example the "sacrificial phones" mention under "What young people say" in the 2011 Nominet funded Cloudlearn research project).

Today though (2015) schools around the world, from Scandinavia to Australasia, are simpifying all this by three simple rules.

one: phones out, on the desk, screen up

Not everyone has a "desk" anymore of course, but the point here is that a device hidden under a work surface is more likely to be a problem than one on the worksurface, screen up. This makes it quick and easy to use, where appropriate, and simple to monitor by teachers or peers.

two: if you bring it, be prepared to share sometimes

This is more complex that it looks. Obviously handing your phone or tablet over to just anyone isn't going to happen, but the expectation that friends, or project collaborators, might simply pick up "your" device and chat to Siri, Google for resources, or whatever, means that bullying, inappropriate texts / images, or general misdemeanours are always likely to be discovered. Transparency is your friend here, secrecy masks mischief - and the expectation of occasional sharing is transparency enough. It also helps students develop simply safety / security habits - like logging out of social media to prevent Frapping or similar.

three: if you bring it, the school might notice and respond positively

If you've brought your own device along, the least you might expect is that the school gives you useful things to do, that you could not otherwise do, or couldn't do so well, without that device.

This requires a bit of imagination all round! A simple example would be the many schools that now do outdoor maths project tasks using the devices GPS trace capability (the device is sealed in a box during the excercise) like the children below tasked with drawing a Christmas tree on the park next to their school: estimating skills, geometry, measurement, scale, collaboration.... and really jolly hard to do with a pencil!

[image of a GPS traced tree]

***

knowing the 3rd millennium ABCs

A

ambition: how good might your children be?

agility: how quickly can we reconfigure to catch the wave - at a moment, only over a year, or at best across a generation?

astonishment: we want people to be astonished by what these children, and teachers, might achieve - how do we showcase this? how do we respond to it ourselves?

B

brave: what are others doing, what tested ideas can we borrow, how can we feed our own ideas to others? Brave is not foolhardy or reckless!

breadth: learning reaches out to who? embraces what? what support do you give for your school's grandparents for example?

blockers: you will need help with beating the blockers - if you run at the front, you need resources that win arguments: what is the evidence that...? why doesn't everyone do this...? where can I see it in action...? why should I change, ever...? all this exists of course (see top of page for example), but you need to organise it and be ready with it. A direct example is this workshop manual we developed for the new science spaces at Perth's Wesley College in Australia.

C

collegiality: that sense of belonging, of us-ness, sense of family, sharing, co-exploring, research. Also a sense of us (the team working on this innovation) being learners too - and able to show that we are trying cool stuff too - you won't win hearts and minds by saying but not doing;

communication: how does a learning space / building communicate what happens within? and this is about symmetry: how does the school listen to what happens outside school? how do we share and exchange all this with others?

collaboration: we don't want to be told, but we want to do this with others. How do we share what we learn as we do it? Who do we share with? How do we learn from them?"
tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  edtech  technology  schooldesign  stephenheppell  via:sebastienmarion  pedagogy  howweteach  howwelearn  education  teaching  learning  schools  collaboration  byod  umod  sharing  ambition  agility  astonishment  bravery  breadth  blockers  collegiality  communication  simplicity  mobile  phones  desks  furniture  computers  laptops  etiquette  conviviality  scheduling  teams  interdependence  canon  sfsh 
march 2016 by robertogreco
ANALOG MEMORY DESK - Kirsten Camara
"A desk to record all the small items you write down once, but intend to forget tomorrow.

I've come to realize that I'm somewhat obsessed with how we remember the past. This is the latest installment in that series and a more serious attempt at furniture making. There are a hundreds of little things that we don't try to remember every year or even every week. Does the sum of all these tiny parts produce a new narrative on our lives?

1,100 yards of paper will record the lists, the phones numbers you call once, the pixel size of that box on that website, the street name of that business, and the long division you try to remember.

Made out of hard maple, butcher paper and a glass panel."

[via: http://mmodulus.tumblr.com/post/79548996003/analog-memory-desk-una-mesa-para-recordar-todos ]
furniture  wood  memory  design  desks  paper  papernet 
march 2014 by robertogreco
OpenDesk - Open Source Furniture — Made Locally.
"View basket Open source furniture — made locally."

[via: https://twitter.com/zachklein/status/390551937176711168 ]

[See also: http://www.wikihouse.cc/ ]

[Note: I think both Sara Hendren and Nick Sowers have made some of these.]
opensource  furniture  diy  desks  design  openstudioproject  projectideas  classroomdesign  schooldesign  schools  classideas 
october 2013 by robertogreco
The Setup / Rhys Newman
"A wall & a desk. I love studios & desks that reflect designers projects & priorities, & the connections & conflicts that may bring. I call them messy…Julian Bleecker calls them curated. A project should feel palpable in a studio, out & up, not just on screen… a huge wall where one can pin up, work on, layer, tear down, & build back up again is essential for me to work in a studio, & essential for good projects. If creativity is about connecting ideas & things that are not seemingly connected, a wall & curated desks can facilitate this creativity… we have those powered desks that allow you to stand or sit, or hove…"

"My preference would be to start with a small studio, with a great big wall, a large kitchen table, a small kitchen. Lots of light, a modelshop and protolab next door. Good creative people, no dickheads, lots of good conversation, laughter and music, and a good few bicycles by the door. A few big projects, lots of small personal projects that blur the boundaries."
furniture  creativity  openstudioproject  cafes  lcproject  design  walls  howwework  standingdesks  desks  2012  thesetup  rhysnewman  usesthis 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Koloro Desk | a dollhouse workspace by Torafu Architects | Spoon & Tamago
"Torafu‘s latest work is the koloro desk and stool, a customizable workspace and, what is to be, the first in a series of products for decorative plywood manufacturer Ichiro. The desk, which resembles a dollhouse, also happens functions like one. It comes with windows in various locations that can be opened and closed to adjust the level of privacy. There are also spaces for lighting, potted plants, and even a windowsill that can be used for display or storage purposes.

It reminds me a bit of the work of Kawamura-Ganjavian, who’ve also come up with various solutions for maintaining privacy in open working environments. See Deskshell [http://www.studio-kg.com/deskshell/ ] or, for maximum privacy, Ostrich [http://www.studio-kg.com/ostrich/ ]."
2012  small  lighting  design  fun  privacy  classroom  classrooms  dollhouses  torafu  srg  furniture  desks 
march 2012 by robertogreco
Designing and Building a New Desk - The Cheap Geek
"This lead me down a path of designing and building my own desk while tying to keep it under 150$. I initially drew up a design in Google sketchup, a great free 3D modeling application, and slowly began tweaking it. My initial design requirements consisted of a very thin top somewhere between 1"-2" supported by two sawhorses. I also needed the ability to get power and Ethernet to the machine without seeing any cabling. I settled on the following design."

[via: http://bettertastethansorry.com/2011/03/desk/ ]
desks  furniture  studio  design  diy  howto  wood  glvo 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Roberto Greco September 2010 | A Teacher's Desk [My contribution to a group blog. I'll be sending in an image and caption each month.]
"In transit to the next desk, a vacant seat in the classroom* of the moment (not pictured), with mate and thermos (the caffeine keeps me awake**, the process slows me down); laptop and charger (to research, record, communicate, and share***); and clipboard and miscellaneous papers (fewer and fewer each year)

*With desks like these, we call them studios.
**But maybe it doesn’t.
***Just a few of those places."

[On the post, several of these words link for context.]
teaching  schools  cv  glvo  desks  comments  tcsnmy  education  ego 
september 2010 by robertogreco
Students Stand When Called Upon, and When Not - NYTimes.com
"The children in Ms. Brown’s class, and in some others at Marine Elementary School and additional schools nearby, are using a type of adjustable-height school desk, allowing pupils to stand while they work, that Ms. Brown designed with the help of a local ergonomic furniture company two years ago. The stand-up desk’s popularity with children and teachers spread by word of mouth from this small town to schools in Wisconsin, across the St. Croix River. Now orders for the desks are being filled for districts from North Carolina to California."

[via: http://www.core77.com/blog/object_culture/furniture_trend_for_schools_stand_and_deliver_12727.asp ]
schools  furniture  desks  design  teaching  learning  education  schooldesign  ergonomics  children  tcsnmy 
february 2009 by robertogreco
A stand-up guy - July 1, 2007
"By opting to go chairless, I increased my productivity and improved my relationships with my staff."
furniture  health  productivity  ergonomics  work  desks 
september 2007 by robertogreco

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