This activity guides students to brainstorm ideas for how their classroom should be set up. After students decide on a design, they will get to actually rearrange your classroom. This option is best if you have more control and flexibility in your classroom.
As a whole class, collectively brainstorm the perfect classroom. Write students’ suggestions on the board. (You can also designate students to act as notetakers.) Ask students:
- What areas should the classroom have? How will the areas fit in the existing space?
- What decor might create the best learning environment? How can decorations be created or sourced affordably?
As students offer suggestions, invite critique from the class. Ask them what they think works and doesn’t work. Once the brainstorming session has ended, organize the ideas and reach a consensus for an achievable plan given the resources and flexibility you have.
Ask students to draw a floor plan on a large piece of paper. They can work together as a full class or in small groups. (Note: At the beginning of the school year, it is useful to observe student dynamics. Who hangs back and doesn’t feel included? Who takes a leadership role? The sooner you can observe class dynamics, the faster you can work on creating an inclusive space.)
If you have several class sections that meet in the same space, let each class know that you will be doing this activity with all of your sections, and you are going to take ideas from each of them to create a space that will meet a variety of needs. The desks may not get re-arranged exactly the way each class envisioned, but students should be able to see evidence of their ideas in the final design.
After the plan has been completed and approved by you and your students, it’s time to arrange the room. This can be done by you and some helpers after school so that you can have a big “reveal” day. Or you can plan for a classroom makeover during your class period when the whole class will bring the floor plan to life.
After you create your classroom, reflect on the process with your students. Ask them:
- What did it feel like to design and create your learning environment with your classmates?
- What did you discover about yourself and what helps you learn through this activity?
- What did you learn about your classmates? How can you use what you learned to build a strong class community?