I read an Edutopia article about How To Make Your Classroom a Thinking Space. This enticed me. I loved the list of example spaces which included spaces similar to the 7 Spaces of Learning mentioned in a previous post. Some examples from the Thinking Space list are:
Tinker station. Encourage hands-on, minds-on creative thinking by providing tools for tinkering. Stock a “maker” station with everything from Legos to kits with wires, switches, and batteries, to a sewing machine. Add a library of Make, Craft, and Popular Mechanics magazines to get creative juices flowing.
Video booth. Turn an empty refrigerator box into a three-sided video booth to capture student reflections. In one class, students created posters on the interior walls that evoke the themes of each project. You might set up lighting and a video camera on a tripod, or just arrange for video capture through a webcam.
Color. If you have the option of changing wall colors in your classroom and school, investigate the role of color on minds and bodies. Better yet, have students investigate and make color recommendations as part of a project.
Furniture. As with color, furniture affects body and mind. Kids have a natural inclination to move, and ergonomic furniture designs (round-bottom stools or shell-shaped chairs that rock) accommodate rather than suppress movement. Beanbag chairs invite students to settle in for reading or quiet work.
I have been experimenting with furniture over the last few years. This year I brought in 10 large balls which the students could use instead of chairs. There are pros (allows rocking, bouncing, moving, fidgeting, encourages posture, engages core muscles) and cons (they squeak when rubbed against shoes or desk legs, they seem to have a life of their own and end up rolling around the classroom).
I would love to try these Hokki Stools. They allow movement, rocking, twisting, and they are quiet, don’t take up a lot of room and easy to relocate when learning spaces need to be changed. These stools are on my wish list.