Reading, Research and Redesign

This week in CEP811, we are redesigning our classrooms using learning theories and experiential design.  We also used the tool SketchUp to design new learning areas.

I am the media specialist in an open-concept designed elementary school that functions like 18+ individual classrooms, two computer labs and a library in a single room.  For this project, I am just looking at my space which is located in the middle of the learning center.  These photos will give you an idea of what my space looks like.

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My library is large and serves as a multi-use area.  It is also used weekly for Rocket Rally when all 500 students, staff and assorted others come together to celebrate our students.  My space needs to be very flexible.  I currently have heavy, awkward tables and a hard wired computer lab in my area.  These two things negatively impact flexibility.  My bookshelves are essentially fixed, but serve to delineate “my” space from the hallway.  My library also has many positives like floor outlets throughout the space and large open areas that provide some flexibility.

I have been focusing on Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory in this course.  As a result, I was looking for ways to make my space more conducive to students having experiences and testing out their new theories.  My district is also implementing both Universal Design for Learning and Personalized Learning.  To me, the MakerSpace is the ultimate way to achieve the common goals of all three of these ideas, so I wanted to make sure that I included one in my design. Two Experience Design recommendations from the Third Teacher (2010) that also factored into my design were the ideas of making classrooms agile so they can transform as learning transforms and expanding virtually so that students are not restricted to simply what is happening in their school or community for learning experiences.  In the media center, my curricular focus is reading and research.  My space should be the perfect venue for collaboration beyond our school walls.

Here is the floor plan for my redesigned learning commons:

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The biggest change I have made is the removal of the lab.  I replaced the desktops with laptops to go with my Chromebooks and refitted the space with two “classrooms” of 6 round tables separated by mobile laptop and Chromebook carts.  The tables can be moved easily and the carts are on wheels, so they can be moved as well.  I also have an area with six larger rectangular tables that can be used for larger Maker activities or for larger groups of students.  That area is set off with a rolling cart containing Maker supplies.  All three of these learning spaces can be used interchangeably for Maker or Inquiry projects and will allow for a variety of seating options including stools, stability balls and swivel chairs. The remaining area is my story corner/free reading area.  I kept my story rug because it is a useful tool for students learning abc order, but I have supplemented it with beanbag chairs and floor cushions so students can more comfortably enjoy literature discussion without it truly being a pain in their bottom.

The costs for this update are detailed below.  This does not include the cost to purchase any consumables for the learning commons.

12 Noodle Chairs @ $130 each = $1560
24 Stability Balls w/ bases = $699
12 Swivel Chairs @ $150 each = $1800
12 Stools @ $90 each = $1080
12 Circular Tables @ $730 each = $8760
1 Chromebook Cart = $1790
1 Laptop Cart = $2479
1 Maker Storage Unit @ $1065
10 Beanbag chairs @ $125 each = $1250
10 Story Corner Cushions @ $25 each = $250
30 Lenovo Laptops (from our district tech specs) @ $730 each = $21,900

Total = $42,633

A remodel such as this would require approval from my principal, the Technology Director, the Curriculum Director and the School Board given the amount of money required to complete the project.  It would also require buy-in from the teachers in my school because any change in the media center would change the acoustics and building dynamics for everyone else.  The project would take several years to complete – starting small with the changes to my story corner, then moving to the replacement of the computers before pulling the lab out entirely and redesigning the space completely.

This kind of redesign is a dream and only represents a small portion of the changes I would like to make to transform my library into a true learning commons.  Additional comments and suggestions are welcome.

The Third Teacher (2010). 79 ways you can use design to transform teaching + learning [Online document].  Retrieved from


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