It’s 2063 and the last of the 1960’s prefab classrooms are being decommissioned. You have been given the brief to redesign a classroom that has direct access to the school yard, veggie patch and chooks.
In considering classrooms in 2063, a fair distance into the 21st century, new societal issues and hence educational approaches will likely be in place. As Schratzenstaller (2010) suggests, classroom designs and pedagogical approaches are influenced by societal needs and changes. One way this may occur is through having direct access from the classroom to the school yard, vegetable patches and chicken coops. Having learning beyond the physical classroom walls enables learning to become situated, and more contextual and relevant for the needs and interests of the students (Lorenza, 2009). Learning in a situated environment enables powerful learning and experiences which enhances further learning (Johnson, 2009). In considering the logistics of this design the classroom needs to take into account a number of factors, including the flow between spaces, co-operative learning opportunities, as well as access and usability of technology and the access to outside environments and how this can be incorporated into the classroom space.
Flow between spaces is essential to optimise all learning opportunities and areas. This can be considered in the lines and shapes inside and outside the classroom. Curved lines and shapes are used to elicit a feeling of movement and calm (Read, 2010) to enable natural flow between spaces. If there were straight lines and lots of sharp corners it would add rigidity (Read, 2010) to the area, restricting the possibilities available to cross-curricula and other learning. For these reasons, the classroom and outside space contain circular tables as well as rounded and curved storage areas. The vegetable patches and chicken coop are rectangular to display form. The circular tables are also being used to promote co-operative learning; learning as and with a group to enable group and individual learning outcomes (Slavin, 2010). There is a storage area in place for technology in the classroom, to enable the use of technology when necessary but also to ensure it can be put away when outside work is being completed. An Interactive Whiteboard is in place to allow technology to be utilised effectively within the classroom.
In the outside area there is a path enabling community access to the area. This provides the opportunity to create a Community of Practice beyond simply the students and teachers. This will enable connections into the wider community. A Community of Practice enables a collective growth in the learning of a shared interest (Smith, 2009). In this sense, the community are involved and participating in the learning. This is why the wider community are invited to the garden to ensure community connections and learning; the gardens are an opportunity for the students and community to learn.
The Vegetable garden is located to enable access to full sunlight throughout the day. As Better Homes and Gardens (2013) suggests access to full sunlight and water ensure a successful vegetable garden. This is why the water tank has been designed into the space, to ensure a sustainable water usage, in utilising rainwater for the garden. Also this water tank ensures the chickens are provided with fresh water. The tank acts as a reminder to ensure water is provided to the garden and chickens. The Chicken coop is located on the East side of the building to help protect the chickens from direct sunlight and other harsh weather conditions. The Department of Industry (2013) states chickens need protection from harsh environments to ensure their success. This is also why the awning is in place; to add extra protection for the students. There is a storage space outside to store any equipment required for the garden to succeed.
Inside the classroom, is a bench enabling the use of vegetables and chicken eggs. It allows the cleaning and simple cooking of these to connect the learning in the garden to inside the classroom, ensuring cross-curricula ideas. This bench connects the two environments in ensuring flow. Similarly the two external walls are floor to ceiling bi-fold doors, this allows for easy access between areas. This is also why there are low windows above the bench and technology storage space to ensure connections and easy viewing access to outside.
All these elements, in the design of the classroom, are to allow flow of movement between spaces and allow for connections to be made between inside and outside learning opportunities, in situated, contextualised learning. The space is designed to allow optimal opportunities for cross-curricula lessons and relevant, context driven learning through connecting spaces.
Follow this link to view a 2D and 3D version of this space: http://pl.an/cpy8ze