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Space to Work

March 16, 2016

The more I work, the more I learn.  Teaching is such an unique profession.  As soon as you think you have something figured out, something changes.  The variables involved in education are huge.  Each learner is so unique and special that the job is never the same.  It also means that learning should be happening all the time.  If eyes are open and ears are listening, learning will take place.

Recently, the idea of space has been a focus of mine.  Space is an important element in the learning process.  When I discuss space, I am talking about academic space and physical space.  In my eyes, academic space is giving students the freedom to make instructional decisions.  For me, this is of utmost importance in the classroom.  The more decisions students make, the more investment they will have in their learning.  Even if we give students physical comfort with space, that doesn’t mean they are going to invest in the process of learning.  I think they have to have a say in their work as well.  Don’t get me wrong, comfort is undoubtedly important.  I value it immensely.  Anyone that has ever been in one of my learning spaces would attest to that.  But in my opinion, it needs to walk side-by-side with academic choice or space.

Below are some pictures from the last 2 weeks.  In the captions, I will explain how space enabled the activity to happen.  This is a brief glimpse into our multiage classroom. You can follow our learning experiences at @mthornton78, @MrCraftMultiage or #MultiageAHES .

This student could easily measure the width without the ladder.  Even so, he wants to climb the ladder to measure.  Why should I step in?  The challenge was to measure the perimeter of the white boards.  It was really interesting to see how the different ways the students performed this task.


We are currently studying Virginia’s part in the Civil War.  We discussed the Battle of Bull Run on Friday.  Today, a few of the girls got together and made this really neat poster to show their understanding of the battle.   They came to me and told me what they wanted to do.  I stepped out of the way.  It worked!  It worked well.


This students wanted to build an Appomattox Courthouse.  It is still a work in progress. I love what she is doing.  I originally challenged her to build something similar in Minecraft but she wanted to use her hands instead.  Again, I stepped out of the way.


After studying electricity for about a week and a half, we took out our electricity kits.  Then we just let them play, learn, explore, and teach.  In this case, the students figured out how to hook up a motor.  Next, they explored and figured out how to make the motor color.  Very cool.


And yet another way to represent the Battle of Bull Run.  This is his device that he brought out for this activity.  His comfort level was higher when he was using his own device.


This message speaks for itself.  I have learned and continue to learn that giving them freedom and space will lead to amazing learning moments.


Can you make a banana and an orange conduct electricity?  They explored.  I watched.  I listened.  I learned.  As they worked, they called upon classmates to help with the challenge.


We are exploring money.  Of late, they are going onto popular websites and “buying” items that they really want.  They are given an allotment and they have to spend within their limits.  #RealLife


This student is taking a school-wide assessment.  She is comfortable.  She is taking notes using the floor.  This is a great example of both physical and academic space.



He is editing a group story via Google Docs.  It this moment, he is using the class’ active panel to do so.  In addition, he wanted to be comfortable so he hooked up the wireless keyboard and mouse. 

Within the last few weeks, we completed a writing/making project.  The students made something out of cardboard.  Then they created stories based on their creations.  Finally, they created comprehension questions for their story.  This was one of the final projects.  Check it out.  Box Stories 2016

These students are working on a Civil War wall and decided to make a poster of the Merrimack and Monitor.  They are using the state curriculum and perusing what is expected of them to build their wall.  

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