A beautiful example of creative learning, indeed! Children learn effectively when the environment is child-friendly.
Attached is a photo of a recent FIRST robotics competition, where a group of our students and a mentor were preparing to start a match. Although this is a competition environment rather than a traditional classroom, or teaching setting, the team members all stand next to each other for easy collaboration, facing the course and robot that they are all focused on. Team members can easily talk to each other, and coordinate how to steer the robot through the course. Each team must also strategize with its “ally team” for each match, bringing about further collaboration. To make this activity more collaborative, I would do 2 things:
-Include more robots on a given alliance, to encourage students to collaborate with a wider range of teams, and learn more perspectives prior to a match.
-Include add-on elements that can be attached to a robot prior to a match, to encourage teams to collaborate on how to customize their robots to best complement each other.
Thank you so much for sharing some amazing pictures of different learning spaces you’ve visited! Actually, we learn from formal, non formal, informal educational settings or even from the nature. We also learn from our own life.
Looking very nice! Thanks!!
On Thursday, I went to my first Bay Area Maker Educator Meetup at the Tinkering Studio in the Exploratorium. This workshop focused on making music with MaKey Makey, LEGO WeDo, Scratch, Playtronica, and Garage Band. It’s always a pleasure to visit the Tinkering Studio, but as a Bay Area newcomer, I was particularly excited to meet other local educators. In my past work I’ve thought a lot about supporting community — but this is my first time in a while being on the other side! I really appreciated all of the small things the workshop incorporated to promote community within the context of computational tinkering.
Here are a few quick thoughts on how the workshop fostered a collaborative learning environment:
- Space: Space plays such an important role in setting the tone! The workshop had a central table in the middle where all participants gathered to introduce themselves and learn more about the activity. The majority of the workshop took place on this central table with a few satellite stations and separate materials table, but the communal table felt like an anchor for the space. There were also sample projects set up at the table (more below) with two chairs per station, which helped people naturally pair up and connect.
- Guided flexibility: This workshop included a few sample project stations scattered around the room, including on the central table. Some stations had just the tools (computer, Makey Makey), while others had examples to tinker with and build upon. We were invited to pick a station, pair up, and/or float around from station to station. This way, people could choose stations that catered to their passions (ahem, week 3!), curiosities, and comfort levels. Facilitation played a huge role as well, with our wonderful hosts taking on roles as catalysts, consultants, connectors, and collaborators.
- Food!: I can’t stress this enough…food is SUCH a crucial part of community building! First off, it shows participants that the facilitators / guides / organizers care about their well being. Food is also a natural way for people to bond together while sharing something communal. At this workshop, the organizer/facilitators invited us to have a few appetizers while we were getting settled. People introduced each other while getting food and were able to create camaraderie even before the workshop started.
- Reflection: Reflecting together as a group allowed us to both share common experiences and acknowledge others’ contributions. It’s incredible how much sharing a personal experience can connect you with others. More often than not, the experience was collective (rather than individual).
Here are a few photos snapped by one of the hosts, Deanna Gelosi:
Hi Helen, I feel you! I used to teach in a classroom with a similar setup. (The tables were bolted into the floor as permanent rows.) Digital collaboration is an awesome workaround! I also experimented with making each table a mini-group / mini-station to try to break up the row-ness of the room. It’s awesome that your students get to experiment with collaboration and communication in digital and physical spaces.
This is incredible! Thank you for sharing. I love the idea of fostering connections between peers by going to the spaces where they are.
So cool! I wonder how being in costume / becoming sea creatures contributes to a sense of community. I find that embodying other characters often helps people connect in unexpected ways. (Also it looks like a TON of fun.)
I’ve been deeply influenced by the Infant School at Reggio as way to organise a learning space. Here I’m using pictures from a project on robotics construction kits for five-years old children I was involved with a few years ago.
I was impressed by Reggio Infant School ways of fostering group learning by creating occasions for discussions around the children’s projects:
The projects where ambitious and realised with the support of adults that are part of the group learning experience:
The documentation of children’s theories of how their robotic construction worked was a key component of the learning experience and used for further reflections while the project was carried out:
The pictures are taken from the final report of that project: http://www.itd.cnr.it/download/CAB_research_findings_and_perspectives.pdf
I had oval Harkness tables in high school, even for math, and science they moved chairs to a horseshoe shape facing the blackboard. Those circles do a lot to make for equal participation, and of course, trust.
PEER-Led Museum Tours and Object Based Learning for Community Building: There is such great opportunity in object based learning as it pertains to creativity and inquiry based learning. Visual Thinking Strategies is an approach to observation through inquiry and story-telling. As a digital educator working in a Natural History Museum, its exciting to add VTS as part of the discovery process that occurs best with peers (in a group setting) by the object. One way that I help build community with a new group of teens at my museum is to explore the galleries together and do a peer-led tour. Each person in the group goes to an area of interest anywhere in museum (Egyptian, Mammals, Ancient Americas, Plant Hall etc…) Once an area or object is encountered the young person shares what they love about that object/area of the collection and we proceed to the next object/area of interest with the next young person. It gives the opportunity through the show and tell experience for all of them to get to know one another through an object or subject of interest. With a group of about 15, it becomes a 45 minute of experience that is purely led by the group and not by me. Sometimes, I follow up the museum peer led tour with a “selfie-scavenger” where the group is broken up into smaller teams and go around different areas of the museums to take pictures as a team interacting with the exhibits or each other such as taking a picture as if “Running away from a Dinosaur” or a “Team jump shot”,
Hello - I’m from Bangkok, Thailand and I wanted to share a specific learning environment of a story-based camp that I run for 4-8 year olds.
Even though we have small learning environments designed for different types of activities in our space, I thought that it would be fun to reflect about the floor!
We’ve always loved to have our more crafty group activities done on the floor because I think it unleashes their creativity and collaboration. On the floor, they can sit however they want; whatever is more comfortable for them. It removes them from a classroom mindset; they’re not “confined” to a seat or a table and they’re free to move about whenever they want. With the floor, they have a much bigger space to work on and around, and I think it definitely puts them in their element.
In addition, we set it up so that the teams have to find their own space. It’s interesting to watch how something as simple as finding their “group space” can be so exciting that their team bonds a little more. It seems like the decision gives them ownership of the space and a greater sense of belonging, which then makes them much more comfortable in doing the activity with 4-5 other students they met just an hour before. I think that when students are at ease, they open up and feel safe sharing and building on ideas - this encourages both creativity and collaboration!
With each small group, we assign a teaching assistant the facilitate the activity. With just the floor, activity materials and a teacher, maybe a way to make it more collaborative is by improving the teacher’s facilitation. The communication is probably key in prompting and scaffolding students - knowing what to say, how to ask questions and when to intervene would be a good training for us to have for our assistants.
Great to see Miyata sensei’s face in the slide the diversity of the collaboration in your example is astonishing. I am curious what made them so committed to making engaging comments!
“In the context of a school-dominated society, the most important principle of mathetics may be the incitement to revolt against accepted wisdom that comes from knowing that you can learn without being taught, and often learn best when taught least.” Seymour Papert
This quote led me to interview people about their learning spaces/programs about the TRUST they were given, or not, to learn and how that affected them.
A feature of the Computer Clubhouse of TRUST made me see how this one factor increases learning - how trusting the student will find what they need works with an environment of trust.
- I spoke with a preschool teacher about a homeless student who thanked her for trusting her, because no one else did. This made the teacher both touched and depressed.
- I spoke with a colleague whose high school after school sort of left him on his own though they applied for him to get into other programs of great value. So it seemed they trusted he would figure it out and only gave the minimum amount of help. He can teach himself anything as a result, but found the lack of peer collaboration was sorely missed.
3 I went to a Bennington College event on STEAM where we discussed how non-creative people want creativity in their students and schools, but somehow still don’t trust it as a process since it is non-linear. An ongoing battle.
- I went to an event with Charles Vogl who discussed his book “The Art of Community” on the 7 principles of belonging. The breakout sessions worked very well to create a safe sharing space. I will give the book as a gift.
I have revised the importance of trust in learning and creatitivity up by several notches as a result of my exploration.
I love your philosophy of sitting. I saw a similar thing in @raine22 's example that making the seating as intuitive to them as possible is a great way to make space “safe.” Thanks for sharing!
I love the way this spans digital and physical spaces! And it’s cool to think about the way this supports collaboration across time, too
The Floor as collaborative! Wow yes! When I worked at the Clubhouse (where Mitch talks about the Green Table) as community green for sharing ideas etc) I was moved to learn later that when Clubhouses opened in India, instead of a “green table” as the community green/center, they had a green mat on the floor! It was a much more familiar and comfortable environment for those in india that were used to sitting on floors more than they were at tables. Love this and thank you! It makes it both a physical yet communal experience when you do things on the floor together with others.
Super neat idea
I work in a small, rural village in Alaska so the opportunities to visit learning spaces are limited to the local K-12 public school. In the school, the students are mostly learning in the traditional way, with teacher-led instruction and follow-up practice. The design of the school, traditional cell-like classrooms (the school is fairly small) aligned along hallways (hallways lined with individual lockers for the older grades). There are lots of computers in the school, but they are either isolated in labs or locked up in carts.
Some teachers, however, are including more creative and collaborative activities such as hands-on projects and collaborating across classrooms. One teacher is teaching his science class to multiple classrooms across the (hugely spread out) school district. I notice that the most creative and collaborative classroom is larger and has a more open plan than the rest of the classrooms in the school.
If I were to change the design of this traditional learning space, I would open it up a bit, allowing for more freedom of movement. I would also integrate the individual classrooms within this learning space so they would not feel so isolated from each other. Finally, I would not lock away the creative tools and supplies, like computers and art materials.
My favorite learning place is Creative Mornings . https://creativemornings.com/talks
It’s an international format of breakfasts with one speaker giving an inspirational talk,
organized one a month by a volunteers. I’m in the Roma Team and I’m very happy to be part of it.
Creative Mornings Is not a place is a huge community sharing stories and ideas .
Or better is a place once a month when - in each cities of the Creative Mornings Network - One morning a month, people in the creative community gather to hear a speaker share his story in each one of the 170 cities of the network.
Creative Mornings supports sharing ideas through the website : anyone , anytime can watch a talk about a specific subject and share their opinion or the best quote from the speech.
Creative Mornings support sharing ideas: people attending events have an informal place to meet new people like minded
CM encourages collaboration between partners involved in each event .
every city that hosts a creativemornings has a team : members of the team have to work together in order to organize each breakfast