WORDS MEGAN MEINEKE OF SUNSHINE COAST GRAMMAR
hat a long way we’ve come from what was once viewed as the ‘traditional school classroom’. We are now educating students for the 21st century to be active thinkers, who are able to collaborate with learning partners, think and problem solve critically and while displaying creativity across a variety of contexts. Traditional classrooms in the 20th century were dominated by one type of furniture design, usually arranged in a straight line, with classes predominantly teacher and blackboard focused. In the late 20th century, digital technologies were added to the classroom in the forms of interactive or conventional whiteboards and a handful of desktop computers – but these additions rarely altered the dynamics of the teaching style within the classrooms. There are exciting changes afoot for our 21st century learners. Our modern day classrooms are being transformed into stimulating and colourful, student-centred, flexible environments. These learning spaces are creating the ideal environment
for active group learning, as well as teacher directed and individual learning, allowing for responsive flexibility to suit student needs and the daily learning requirements of the classroom. Without doubt current research is pointing to the fact that peer collaboration (team-work) and feedback as a result of this collaboration are strategies which have the greatest impact on improving learning outcomes (Hattie 2009). Flexible table groupings and seating arrangements lead to more discussion, active student learning and frequent informal teacher assistance, with students in these environments outperforming those who were taught the same course in a traditional classroom (Whiteside, Brooks and Walker 2010). The challenge for schools is to ensure that learning environments continue to evolve in response to the needs of current and future learners. With these exciting changes taking place in our classrooms right now we can be assured that we are providing the dynamic environment required for the 21st century learner.
Research shows (Gee 2006) that 21st century classrooms need to: •• be welcoming and familiar •• be flexible •• allow adequate space for movement •• allow for student and teacher ownership •• enable changeable focal points within the space •• have mobile displays that support collaboration and teaching with digital media •• anticipate future needs
Published on Jun 1, 2014