[Wk 3 - Reflection] Designing for Wide Walls


Fantastic metaphor of the house.
The walls must not only be wide, but also:

glass, to let in light and energy (ie the contaminations and influences from the outside) and to allow you to see beyond (the reality, at times, seems so far away)
be mobile, openable, to be able to connect and communicate multiple environments (knowledge, disciplines, experiences, cultures …).
This idea immediately makes us think of a school that lets itself be contaminated by the surrounding environment, dynamic, which opens out to the outside, rich in oxygen, which extends its training spaces and takes advantage of the opportunities that the territory offers (as in the case of the Museum where Natalie Rusk had activated the laboratory).

In my daily teaching, to expand the walls of the room, I try to:

graduate requests, starting from concrete connections or reassuring examples, to bring the kids to a more abstract level (to express their ideas on a topic or to propose solutions, to try to make an evaluation, to imagine different endings and the possible consequences, putting himself in the shoes of another - decentralization of the ego …);
propose metacognition exercises to make them more aware of their learning path and the ability to rework ideas / production of new ideas;
offer (through a class blog and other means) more channels to learn and rework knowledge;
propose more types of tasks and exercises during the lesson or in a check (breaking the monotony, automatisms and predictability);
assigning also “open” tasks (freedom in the choice of subjects as long as they are relevant, in the choice of the supports to be used and in the modalities of presentation to the class);
providing meetings with experts and educational outings (to encourage experiential approaches to knowledge, but also to deepen one’s knowledge);
to create, by themselves or in groups, activities to “give to the class”, for example games starting from the topics dealt with or deepened for personal interest. Here are the last of these games that, in order of time, two students have designed and built to help the classmates to memorize the terms and their meaning (the game is also formed by other cards and regulations that are not framed here) :slight_smile:

I should definitely do more to offer meaningful experiences:

relying on the intrinsic motivation of the boys;
creating even more welcoming, “social” and stimulating learning environments;
increasing the spaces in which the needs of autonomy, relationality and competence (I would also add responsibility), which produce creativity, satisfaction and well-being in people, exert them;
focusing more on planning with colleagues to propose interdisciplinary activities that develop transversal skills.

That’s why I decided to be here with you!


In practice I have had great success with introducing wide walls at controlled intervals.

For instance we had a project in Snap! (very much like Scratch) that ended in us making a beat machine. The first step of the process I had the kids make a button that made a noise when pressed. I didn’t provide a button image and instead encouraged them to make their own. Draw it, find it online, do whatever as long as you ended with a button. Allowing this freedom allowed them to have fun and express themselves and have a sense of ownership. They were much more interested in the more narrow-walled activities that followed. Sharing what they made was a fun time and they felt empowered to be creative.


I agree with you… I faced it too at times while working with kids… so then what I used to do was show them some examples or at least give a queue to start with (basic guidelines) and then may be pause / allow them to extend it … Even I am eager to learn more on this and will wait for others to comment…


Wide walls - Great especially for people who want to think on their own and come up with new ideas… However a little hint makes it easy at times… Let me share a few experiences I had recently…

;while introducing Scratch to a 4-5 year old kid and a 6 year old.

  • They didn’t know anything about the subject or how to even type or scroll a mouse…with their little hands and fingers. I should have introduced them to ScratchJr first. However they seemed to pick up well and start making new projects … One of them watched how a ball bounces on screen and jumped up to say, wait I have an idea… and said … what if I replace this with the planets, what if I create a Universe and make them all rotate and revolve - Earth, Moon, Sun etc. in their own orbits?
    And with little help almost completed one exactly as desired with a background sound “boeing” :smiley:

  • The same happened when I explained the reason behind how objects falls and picking up the word gravity almost seamlessly started playing with objects of different weights to see how they fall differently on ground… :smile:

  • Some were great lovers of music and almost anything related to music attracted them so much that, sometimes when other teachers found it hard to explain them how to frame words… I tried a new way of introducing sound accompanied with letters which worked well…

  • however in certain workshops as one of you have mentioned there are challenges, especially when I find kids shying away from exploring since their early childhood, in that case, examples help them to start thinking and with appropriate exercises where the wide wall is allowed… they come off with flying colors… I still remember the way my English teacher used to make us think… . and in that case I would say wide walls have helped me as well as other friends as well as our next generation getting exposure to subjects through us, so much! Thank you for having said this… I would like to hear experiences you all had in your respective areas… of research or studies…


I just started mentoring a fifth grader. Due to learning differences, he is sometimes out of synch with his teachers expectations. His mother mentioned he dreams of becoming a game developer. So we decided that, if he wanted, I would teach him Scratch. He had seen Scratch before, but thought it boring.

While we didn’t do much coding at our first session, we discussed the Scratch projects he admired and he found several that did resonate with him. He also told me about the game he wanted to create. We covered internet safety and integrity, the basics of prototyping and introduced Scratch’s coordinate system. We had worked for two hours straight and he was begging to keep going about how computers knew where to put objects on the screen!

I also told him about low floors, high ceilings and wide walls. He loved the idea of space to expand and see how someone could use the same tools to create something completely different.


The thing about “wide walls” for me is related with self-awareness and decision-making processes too.
I remember an experiment about people’s buying behaviours conducted in a supermarket. They set up a little tasting booth right near the entrance of the store. They put out 6 different flavors of jam or 24 different flavors of jam, and looked at two things: First, in which case were people more likely to stop, sample some jam? More people stopped when there were 24, about 60 percent, than when there were six, about 40 percent. The next thing they looked at was in which case were people more likely to buy a jar of jam. Of the people who stopped when there were 24, only three percent of them actually bought a jar of jam. Of the people who stopped when there were six, 30 percent of them actually bought a jar of jam. People were at least six times more likely to buy a jar of jam if they encountered six than if they encountered 24.
I think this experiment is an example explaining why it is hard to decide in wide walls. Here is the link for the experiment

I have another example:
think that you are in a restaurant serving 20 different kinds of pasta. To decide which one you will order, you must be aware of what you expect from that meal. Are you looking for something new or would you like to have the best spaghetti bolognese ever? And I think this is related with self-awareness which can expalin why it is hard to work in wide-walls.

If students know what they are interested in, it is good to have wide-walls, but if somebody is not aware of her priorities or preferences, it is easy to get lost or find a way to start in wide-walls.


What I have learned about wide walls over the past few years is simply that you just need to make sure that they are good, solid walls. In the beginning I made the error of mistaking wide walls for no walls for all and then, well… there was nothing to support the learning. My students went of on wild tangents and lost their way so far that it was difficult, or even sometimes too late, to guide them back. I sometimes wince when I think back now to times when I thought I was providing room for students to grow and learn, but they simply didn’t have the supports that they needed. What I try to do now is set the boundaries for the walls with as much depth and breadth as I can, and then the students have room to follow their interests within that space. I often think of it as a walled playground.


Hi! I just read you comment. I think I understand what you are saying about kids getting lost in a wide “space”. But really understanding about Wide Walls, I think is about learning in an enviroment where the “rules” are clear, but the range of projects or interest in diff projects can be almost infinite :slight_smile:


Wide walls in my practice exist. The project as a group thing can reach or develop as much as needed for the kids with my guidence. The interests varies. Is the Wide Walls that guve us teachers in my practice to acknowledge that there has to be an exposure of experiences, materials, toys, spaces, emotions and everything else that you consider, to bring ideas to the table and develop the project through their passion.


wide walls make sense to me like students should be working on from simple to complex project based activities so that they get into the in-depth of something step by step during technology. This is how students can easily create something by facing simple to complex difficulty levels that is easier to solve problems during their project period. However, whatever they create in this project based learning activities and whatever the stages they have been going through from simple to complex, we must encourage students to work on multiple projects rather than same or similar! I think, whenever we advice some project based task or activities, we also need to consider their age level.


In my practice as a computer science teacher wide walls can mean introducing a new software application (for example scratch, app inventor, etc) to my students and then letting them create something they like using the tool. After getting the basic idea about different tools they can pick the tool or tools they like to create projects.


Agree. Wide walls can be overwhelming for some. Something I didn’t get to share today is that I have students do a warm up exercise before I introduce wide walls or the idea that they should make something they are passionate about. This way they can learn what it feels like to go through the steps of doing a project with a pretty low risk prompt like, “In groups of three, make a nature themed toy out of laser cut plywood.”

Starting w a low risk project makes sense in my head. But I’m not sure if it really makes any difference in the classroom. Maybe its just better to throw them in the pool and just make sure no one gets hurt. They can swim like experts or doggie paddle. As long as they swim.


I totally agree with you Dione, I think Wide Walls refers to giving the opportunity to work on different things or ways depending on what interests us most . Exposure to different materials, ways of working will wake up our passion for hard play.


Last saturday we had a CoderDojo session here in Como, Italy. We usually do coding-related activities, but this time we tried to let them play with tinkering.
Because we are almost at Halloween, we gave kids a small 3d printed pumpkin (the “low floor”) and encouraged them to realize “whatever they wanted to make for Halloween” (the “high ceiling”).
Then, we provided them many different tools to work with: cardboards, metallic wires, leds, batteries, bottle caps, rubberbands, Makey Makey, Microbits, servo motors (the “wide walls”).
They worked really hard, each one with their own abilities, knowledge and ideas: the “gadget” they came out with were really so different and interesting!


“to throw them in the pool and just make sure no one gets hurt” sounds really good! I will say again the same think but to make sure no one gets hurt, we must focus on the “process” itself, instead of the product. After today’s unhangout I realized that my design education promoted only the end products. We were all under the stress of creating something wonderful! What I believe now is that design education should focus on “how to create” instead of “what to create”. By doing this, the design process will be a discovery process where its actors feel free to try, find new ways of doing sth. accepting failure, sharing, and reflecting… as in the “creative learning spiral” This morning was really fantastic :slight_smile: thank you for contributing…


Wide walls in my practice look like several Science lessons in middle school where the teachers are floating around the room and the students are experiencing Science. The “wide walls” come from coaching the teachers in a way that centers the teachers planning class experiences that facilitate more of what LCL is advocating the amazing experience of tackling a problem as a community of learners. As one of our reading excerpts mentioned this will be considered concrete learning.

As a staff development specialist I was able to provide the wide walls component during the summer by having teachers design their lessons around student experiences that would connect the learning to the students in a meaningful way. The structure was provided for the teachers to consider what sort of experiences the students should have in their classroom that would facilitate the engagement and the connection that are the main tenants of our project. We obtained a myriad of lessons that now are being shared by the cadre of teachers that designed these lessons and are starting to observe the teachers during delivery of these lessons.


I have been experimenting with using somewhat narrow walls to open up the wider walls. I gave my students a whole bunch of projects in just “go to x y” and “glide” blocks. When I let them run now, they use these concepts freely for whatever they want.
I started with creating a card: and when I realized they couldn’t really generalize gave them a go to x y and glide unit:
I’ve given them some freecode time since then, and noticed that they make characters glide when it makes sense to, entirely of their own accord.

I’m trying something similar for “costmes” and “loops” now.


I don’t think a focus on struggles is necessarily negative: resilience is the ability to overcome and pass through struggles and I think survival is pretty positive.
I was just saying to our resource teacher how one of our little guys who just seems crushed by anxiety and the knowledge of his struggles as a learner could really benefit from insight into the struggles of an athlete he admires who has overcome and/or worked through learning difficulties.

My sister wrestled for many years and struggled with school work. At one point she had this epiphany where she started applying successful wrestling strategies to tackling her school work. I just love this transfer and do need to work on being mindful in my practice of how I can encourage this with my students, and myself.


OR both. But yeah, I have my students do a lot of process reflection with the hope that they acquire a process of inquiry and execution (hate that word) that is repeatable.


Em minha opinião não precisamos realizar grandes revoluções em nossos espaços de trabalho para ampliar as paredes e o conhecimento de nossos estudantes. Muitas vezes medidas simples, como ter uma única e grande mesa central, já favorece a discussão e o aprendizado entre nossos estudantes. Ampliar paredes para mim, é ampliar também a consciência que se tem acerca de nossos métodos de ensino e como podemos ampliar os conhecimentos de nossos estudantes de forma realmente significativa e criativa!