It is a beautiful March day: slight breeze, sun’s out, chilly with the feeling that spring is nearly there. I am sitting at the back of a 2nd floor classroom facing a newly-qualified teacher as part of his mentoring support, observing a lesson. His target: pupil engagement. He is at the front of a twitchy, but generally well-behaved Year 5 class standing at the interactive whiteboard. The activity seems engaging - learners are invited to come up to the board and use labels to match parts of trees, comparing these to flowers and plants. Either side of the whiteboard are large windows. The one to his right faces out over the city - a great view. The one to his left overlooks the school field, with more trees than I can count.
This year I have been lucky enough to embark on a new learning adventure at The West Thornton Primary Academy in Croydon. Part of the Synaptic Trust, West Thornton is unique, and, in my humble opinion, innovative in its approach to learning. For a start, I do not have a traditional style ‘classroom’. Instead I share the space of an ‘Open Learning Zone’.
Learning environment specialists Hope Education have released Classroom of the Future, an interactive portal exploring the ways in which schools could embrace pupils’ keen adoption of technology for educational success. The platform guides users around 11 unique features, each one offering more information on the technology and a interesting fact once clicked upon.
Professor Stephen Heppell and Kickstarter have announced the findings of their Learnometer research report. The project has seen Prof Heppell and his team designing the Learnometer device, which measures and analyses copious learning environment factors, such as temperature, noise, humidity and light. The research, carried out over a number of months, invited schools to measure their own learning environments, while the Kickstarter team measured over fifty examination rooms across the world.
When you are outside, choose and use your language wisely!
In the beginning, human beings were not designed to spend hours each day surrounded by brick walls. They were naturally programmed for survival, for the great outdoors with its unpredictability, and each day provided naturally occurring learning opportunities which were a necessity if our ancient ancestors were to survive.
The transformation of our library to a libratory began well before I accepted the position as Resource Center director six years ago. I had been fortunate enough to have taught in the building for 14 years prior taking on the position. I watched how my students interacted with technology and books in the space. I saw overstuffed and inflexible bookcases, cluttered horizontal surfaces and a space that was visually disorganised. The whole space seemed askew - I have always been good with the ‘flow’ of spaces.
Pupils from a school in Camberwell, London have been taking part in an investigative activity that allows learners to be conservation scientists for the day. The WWT London Wetland Centre is trialling Conservation Explorers, which offers schoolchildren from Key Stages 2 and 3 the chance to to study endangered birds. Sacred Heart School’s budding conservationists have been measuring birds’ preening rates, using digital photography to help identify species on the wetlands and more.
With the weather growing warmer and summer most definitely imminent, students everywhere are starting to gaze out of windows and wish they were somewhere other than a hot, stuffy classroom. And when you think about it, they might have a good point. Taking learning outside the classroom can carry some very significant benefits...
Eden Learning Spaces, a leading supplier of soft furnishings for schools, has found that bean bags could improve reading concentration. This was the conclusion from a primary experiment carried out with a class of 30 children aged six to seven years old, with findings indicating that levels of comfort and concentration during independent reading can be increased using Eden Learning Spaces’ specially designed Bean Bag Reading Chair.