Learning Environments

5-Minute Film Festival: Classroom Makeovers to Engage Learners

July 18, 2014 Updated July 29, 2016

Most educators have little choice about the (usually) over-crowded, (often) unappealing rooms they teach in -- but they intuitively know that the spaces children spend their time in can have an effect on how they learn. I've gathered a collection of videos to explore the questions: How important is environment to learning? And what small changes can you make in seating, organization, lighting, and decor to build your own space into a better place to teach and learn?

Video Playlist: Innovative Learning Spaces

Watch the first video below, or watch the whole playlist on YouTube.

  1. Flexible Learning Environments (04:02) - Students and teachers at Eanes Independent School District in Austin, Texas, talk about the district's experiment with creating classrooms of the future to foster 21st-century skills at all grade levels.
  2. Building a Positive School Climate (02:28) - This excellent video infographic from EdWeek describes a variety of ways that the physical school environment can affect the school climate, and visits a number of innovative learning spaces along the way.
  3. How to Organize Your Classroom, from Instructor Magazine (03:29) - Scholastic offers several videos on elementary classroom layouts. This one shows how highly organized first grade teacher Lindsay Brooks sets her class up. See a video about traffic flow in another classroom here.
  4. Wooranna Park -- The Third Teacher (06:13) - I've heard wonderful things about the integrated experiential learning at Wooranna Park Primary School in Victoria, Australia, and this video about the thinking behind their beautiful learning facility does not disappoint.
  5. Classroom Seating Arrangements (02:39) - Seating plans are one way of quickly transforming your space. Check out these tips on the pros and cons of three ways to arrange student desks. You can find a post from producer Tesol Class with more info here.
  6. Reimagining Learning Spaces: Admin Perspectives (05:22) - Which comes first, the flexible classroom environment or the 21st-century learning? In this video, admins from a school in California talk about how updating their spaces encouraged a new way of teaching.
  7. Classroom Cribs: Sprinkle Teaching Magic Classroom Tour (14:50) - Search "classroom tour" to find any number of teacher-made videos on YouTube to steal new ideas from. Though it's 15 minutes long (!), I like this one in particular for teacher Sheila Jane's infectious enthusiasm.
  8. How to Make an Ugly Classroom Beautiful (06:54) - This adorable time-lapse video shows an English teacher in Korea getting very crafty with a whole lot of construction paper, while making a drab beige room into a colorful movie-themed learning space.
  9. Space to Learn by Bobbi Macdonald (05:42) - Although a bit hurried, as Ignite talks can be, it's inspirational to hear this educator describe how when her team founded Baltimore's first public charter school, they re-imagined what the physical space could be.

More Resources on Learning Spaces

Ready to roll up your sleeves and re-think your classroom space before the school year starts? Here are a few organizations and resources to help you as you imagine what your ideal learning space would be. And be sure to check out the Remake Your Class video and tips series that we published last summer for more inspiration. I hope that no matter whether you're in an award-winning eco-friendly school building or a boxy portable, you can find some inspiration about how to customize your space!

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