Chris Kelly: If you’re going to work independently to catch up, you’ll actually turn the tables toward that wall. If you’re going to collaborate, you’re going to be at this table or you’re going to be at this table. All right, go.
By differentiating in a space that’s small or where you have a lot of students we are able to set students up with the learning situations in which they can learn best.
Penelope Pak McMillen: Here at Summit we serve a wide range of students and so you’ll see a varying degree of skill within an academic classroom. Providing flexible space gives students the opportunity to learn in different ways. And it also gives the teacher the opportunity to coach them properly in a personalized manner to reach their learning goals.
Chris Kelly: If you guys want to work independently, what is going to be the best place and the best people to be next to you to work independently? Those who want the mini-lesson are going to come to this table.
We provide a lot of flexibility for learning environments, whether it’s flexibility in terms of the physical space, flexibility in terms of the different choices that students have. You see students seated toward the back of the room. Those students are working independently. The students who are at the tables have chosen to collaborate, which is something they thought through and made part of their goal-setting. And then you have the group of students that chose one of the two mini-lessons and that takes place in the center of the classroom.
Student: Is it better to have more body paragraphs or conclusion?
Chris Kelly: Sometimes a student will write a better thesis and the conclusion than they do at the opening, because they’ve had a chance--
Kayla: We wanted to collaborate, because we’ve been helping each other on the steps that we had to do. And especially since they’re so long we kinda thought, “Oh, let's just work together.” Also, I think if we were to be at other tables we’d probably be more distracted.
Kayla: Like, each slide has a different objective.
Taylor: This is, like, summarize each slide in your own words, I guess.
Taylor: When the classroom’s flexible we can learn a lot more from each other and it forms a better bond with the students within the school and also the staff members.
Penelope Pak McMillen: You may walk by one room and see work time and the teacher floating around and giving one-on-one support to kids. Or you might see the teacher in the middle of a small group giving a quick mini-lesson on something, then moving right on to the next group of students. Or you might see kids in a circle engaging in a Socratic seminar and having a dialogue about an issue that is tied to their class content.
Student: How is e-waste to cycle?
Student: You buy something and then companies start making more products.
Cady Ching: Today in biology I grouped them together in the middle of the classroom so that they could have a space that was conducive to a discussion.
Student: Is e-waste preventing our choice or our duty?
Student: I think it’s our choice, because nobody really tells us to do it.
Student: I agree with you. I feel like it’s our choice right now, but it should be our duty ‘cause it’s important to make the world a safer place.
Cady Ching: Other students are in the process of gathering information for the experimental design project. So, they were seen in the outside, facing outwards so that I could see their screens and help them work through any distractions they might have. It’s hard sometimes to stay focused, especially as freshmen.
All right, go ahead and move.
If they’ve mastered that or if they are ready to move on to the next thing, then our classrooms, you know, support that transition by being able to very quickly move desks and chairs into different groupings for the next part of the class period.
You guys move quickly and safely.
Penelope Pak McMillen: It is important to have furniture that allows me to create different types of learning environments for the students. And, so, we have tables that have wheels on them, so it’s easy to transition into a different configuration. It doesn’t disrupt the learning too much.
Aukeem Ballard: Buenos días.
Students: Buenos días.
Aukeem Ballard: Everybody can talk about what this quote means to you and what your response is to the quote.
Student: You can’t control your circumstances always.
Aukeem Ballard: I will have a whole-class discussion. It’s called a whip-around and we’ll go around the entire circle and have people share-out that way. It just is a way so that we hear more voices and make sure there’s a diversity of thought in the room.
Janet: Some of us are minorities and, like, we have experienced certain things that are--
When we’re sitting in a circle and everyone can look at each other and be aware of each other I feel like it makes you learn a lot better. Like, you grasp concepts more once you see a face.
Penelope Pak McMillen: What’s really exciting about the flexible space is that it allows kids to really understand what type of learning works for them and it equips the teacher with ways that they can deliver more personalized instruction to the kids.
Student: It makes a lot more sense.
Cady Ching: Yay!