7 Essential Learning Zones for Your Classroom Makeover
- Jul 19, 2015
Learning has evolved immensely since the last few decades. The rising standards, growing expectations and the influx of technology has given newer heights to education over the years.
Every student is important and so are their individual opinions and educational requirements. Therefore, it requires careful planning to put together the various pieces of learning, which include:
- projects and assignments
- evaluation strategies
In fact, that's not where it ends. The classroom design and space contributes considerably to the learning atmosphere for students.
Try out this test.
The next time you walk into your classroom, stop for a moment and take a look around you. You would see the desks and chairs arranged in place, the whiteboard on the wall accompanied by a bulletin board and a few class posters. Stationary having a ball of a time somewhere at a corner and papers flung about carelessly somewhere in between. Doesn't paint a pretty picture, does it?
Now imagine, if this space was organized into separate zones, each dedicated for a particular learning activity, how would you like that? Two things will materialize if that could be achieved.
- You will be able to compartmentalize classroom chaos into order.
- You will also be able to keep your sanity intact throughout the term.
Seems like a good bargain, doesn't it? Let's find out more.
What are Learning Zones and Why Do You Need Those in Your Classroom?
If you take a closer look at the occurrences in your classroom, you will be able to spot quite a few disparate ones apart from the regular lessons. The class project itself contributes a few. For example, the brainstorming, the reading and writing, the group activities and, of course, the presentation could be quite a handful if they aren't segregated. But a traditional classroom environment doesn't do much in the areas of personalized learning.
Today's learning isn't just about meeting the common core standards. It is also about motivating students to have opinions. If you wish to build a classroom that caters to every students' learning needs, then a little progression needs to be injected in the very foundation of learning. And it points to the classroom as the base.
In addition, a merging of all the various learning zones into a 'teacher on stage' concept creates a complete mess of the ideas. Where there's clutter, chaos lurks close by, guaranteeing a lack of attention. And that is no environment for education.
According to psychological researcher Dr. Anna V. Fisher, “Young children spend a lot of time — usually the whole day — in the same classroom, and we have shown that a classroom’s visual environment can affect how much children learn”. Therefore, it is important to piece out disparate activities and assign separate zones for them.
Here's the good news.
You can bring harmony into the classroom by giving it that much-needed makeover. The following learning zones will allow the disconnected components in the classroom to co-exist in miraculous harmony.
Various Learning Zones in the Classroom
This is the zone where the discovering lies. This is where students can look up something they need to build on. All of that creativity could be bouncing off the walls if they are given an open forum. The following might come in handy:
- You can channel this by selecting a certain topic that they can research.
- I would also recommend you to share references with them, so that they would know what is expected of them.
- Ask them to jot down the queries they have, so that you can attend to each and every one of them.
If your school follows a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy, then this where those devices will play a key role. Students can employ those devices to research for the task at hand.
Recommended Read: Top benefits of implementing BYOD in classrooms
This is where the ideas are given shape. Students can drop in here to:
- discuss their ideas on the topic that is being taught, class assignments, or even project ideas.
- find solutions to problems, which could be related to the subject or even classroom problems.
- collaborate and conduct study sessions before an examination or whenever they need.
Students become active learners in this interaction zone.
The following video shows the right way to start off brainstorming sessions.
In the creation zone, students can work with the knowledge and ideas they have gathered to create miracles of their own. Students can actively participate in:
- creating their own projects
- indulge in knowledge-building activities
- evaluate their creations and self-reflect
- use technology to create great innovations
You can always go over to them to correct their mistakes and provide them with feedback wherever necessary. This zone will help in furthering students' sense of responsibility and enhancing their engagement with the task at hand. This would manifest an atmosphere that promotes complete learning.
As you can already figure out by the name, this zone is dedicated to the presentation of the work that students have created. In this zone, students can be expected to showcase their work through an interactive session of discussions and feedback. They can also employ every bit of the technology they are allowed to use in the classroom to demonstrate their work.
This would generate an environment, which promotes active participation, interaction, and presenting opinions.
- Students will learn how to present their creations and ideas to a wider audience. This is a life skill that will come in quite handy later on in their lives.
- Students tend to identify more with an explanation that is being presented to them by a fellow classmate than by a teacher. So, comprehension scores brownie points with this approach.
- Once students begin to comprehend the topic, there will be questions. So the student who is presenting a creation will learn how to face criticism, handle peer pressure, and answer doubts quickly. This will also encourage him to acquire a thorough knowledge of the topic he is presenting to the class.
This will give them a leg up in similar scenarios that they might have to face outside school.
“I cannot find the glue or the stapler. How will I put up the elephant cutout in the class poster?” Richard shrieked suddenly. And the whole group went into a frenzy over the problem. They scattered around the class and started looking for either of the two things in question under the desks, in the drawers, in the corners, below the sheets, in their bags and even on the window sills. But the glue and the stapler have somehow found a way to elude them. And they scream about, disrupting the work and your sanity.
Seems like an everyday scene? Not anymore. With the stationary zone included in your class, rest assured, the supplies will be in one place. This zone will encase the pens, pencils, glue, stapler, scissors, rulers, hole punchers, sharpeners, papers, paperclips and the likes along with your sanity.
In short, this is the go-to zone for any requirement for supplies.
Of course, you do not have to stick to the items listed above. You can also make this space a hub for 'Lost and Found' materials, submission of assignments and whatever suits your class space. However, you would still have to educate students on how to use this zone. You need to explain that it is their responsibility to return whatever they are taking from this zone. This way they would learn organization even before the possibility of a mess strikes. It would also inculcate a sense of good citizenship among students.
You are going to be the sole occupant of this zone. Complete with your personal items, photos, valuables, notes, manuals, references, and so on, this is your little island in the sea. You can keep an extra chair here for a colleague or an administrator who visits your classroom.
You can utilize this zone to:
- plan your lessons
- grade assignments
- complete your reports
This is your very own professional zone to work and to keep an eye on the class. In addition, you can also conduct one-to-one sessions with your students in this area.
The very foundation of a classroom lies on the Lesson Zone. This is where the learning takes place. There's only one rule in this zone: you teach and they listen. This zone would obviously need to contain a blackboard and chalk, lesson guides, and anything you need to teach your students.
Imposing Rules to Keep the Segregation Intact
Now that you have decided to segregate your classroom into sections, you would need to limit those zones to their specific areas to avoid merging with one another. For this you can exercise the following:
- You can mark the boundaries of each zone by placing colored tapes on the floor. Each color could be used to signify each zone in the classroom.
- You can set some rules for crossing over from one zone to the other. For example, whenever a student wishes to walk from one zone to the other, he can ask for your permission to do so with a reason stating why he chooses so.
- You can also discipline them on how to behave in each zone. This way the peace and quiet in the classroom can be intact while learning goes on in full-speed.
- Since this concept is a little new to them, they are going to have a lot of queries. Make sure that you listen to each and every one of their doubts with answers ready before you put this into action. This will prevent any possibility of chaos later on.
- To maintain the quality of each zone, you can impose separate rules for those. For example, the Teacher Zone is usually going to be off-limits unless someone needs a one-to-one session. The Presentation Zone needs to be quiet except for the queries that arise, which will only be attended to if students raise their hands to ask for permission to speak.
These are ground rules that can work in any generic classroom. You can build on these and improvise according to the specifics of your class.
Before you start, let me tell you that there is no hard and fast rule that states that you have to implement all the seven zones that I have mentioned here. You can start off with one and see how it works out for your class. Once you emerge successful after testing the waters, you can start implementing the rest one by one.
Have patience while you are at it since it might take some time to adjust to the new routine. And a lot of changes might be required. But once you have found your niche, there would be no stopping you from making this concept a huge success.
You can also try to find out several other concepts to make your classroom more interesting.
Have more ideas on how to divide the classroom into learning zones? Share them with us in the comment section. We will be delighted to hear from you.
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