The Very Spring and Root

An engineer's adventures in education (and other musings).

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motivation

My Classroom!

IMG_20130722_134947The up side of freedom is that I can do whatever I want! The downside of freedom is that now I need to decide what it is that I want. Damn.

I got access to my classroom a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been nerding out on how to set it up. It’s a squarish room with pair tables for 22 students, fixed lab counters and sinks around the outside perimeter and a pair of fixed demo tables at the front. I’ve got old school vertical sliding whiteboards and a small SMART Board off to the side.

I have no idea what to do with the roughly 2 million little drawers and cubbies of the built-in cabinetry in the back room.

Right now, I’ve got it set up in three groups of 6 and one group of 4. I toyed with other arrangements as well. Lecture-style rows had the advantage of order and sight-lines to the board, but I thought it would make things more difficult for group work, collaboration, and discussion. I also tried a round-robin circle of tables to emphasize the importance of discussion in the science class, but I thought that it might be too good for this purpose — meaning that students would be tempted to distract each other across the room. Plus, group work remains hard in that arrangement anyway.

IIMG_20130722_145545 plan to use the vertical sliding whiteboard for objectives and essential questions for the unit / lesson / day, and have it in the “up” position. The board underneath will be for classwork and examples we do in the lesson. The side board near the door will have the agenda for the week and all due items.

Corkboard… I’m thinking exemplary student work, class rules/expectations, and some of the many NASA posters I just got loaded up on thanks to former colleague Kevin back at Dryden.  In the back there is a small table that I will probably use for a little career station, with info on science and engineering as careers, current events in science, and profiles of diverse scientists who are doing awesome work.

As for posters,  in addition to the aforementioned NASA swag, I ordered four more: a “No Whining” sign, “Believe in Yourself: You’re More Capable Than You Think”, “Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone”, and “Think: It’s Not Illegal Yet”. I plan on making a few more for classroom procedures and expectations, as well as (if I have time) a few of my favorite quotes with pictures of the person who said each.

“You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing and dance, and write poems and suffer and understand, for all that is life.”  – Jiddu Krishnamurti (philosopher)

“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more about the world than I knew yesterday — and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.” — Niel deGrasse Tyson (astrophysicist)

“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations…If you adopt their attitudes, then the possibility won’t exist because you’ll have already shut it out … You can hear other people’s wisdom, but you’ve got to re-evaluate the world for yourself.” — Mae Jemison (astronaut)

That’s all for now… I’m sure once I start getting down to the actual setup process much of this will change!




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