Sunday, December 20, 2015

Classroom Inspiration & Transformation. Your #InspiringSpaces!

Over the past 4 weeks, we've challenged you to share your inspiring learning spaces on Twitter and we're so happy to have seen all the entries come in! We gathered the entries in a G+ Collection for easy viewing - take a peek here

And while it was SO hard to only choose 4 winners, we asked each one to share a bit about their journey with inspiring learning spaces below: 

Simon Ashby - Hampden Street School, New Zealand 

I was wandering around my class listening to students, motivating etc. and came across a student who said, "I'm stuck, I don't know what to write about..." a fairly typical situation.
A thought came into my head, well, why not take a walk and think about it I said.
Then another spark flickered, why not take your walk inside the classroom-it was a fairly cold and grey day...
So I grabbed my masking tape and marked it out on the carpet in our shared (5 classes) breakout space. The first student tried it out, complete with thinking-man type facial features (finger and thumb to the chin), and after about 5 minutes, he said....I've got it!
The rumour quickly spread that this was a great place to get ideas...and thus it has become popular to use.
An afterthought....try and keep it to one student on the road at a time, otherwise they tend to create an F1 bumper car style race!

Lori Franzen - Los Alamitos High School, CA

My students and I wanted to create a warm, welcoming space for teens. We wanted a space which would invite lingering discussion as well as open new topics.
We decided to paint the ceiling tiles with the covers of our favorite books. I took the ceiling tiles down, sent them home with kids, and trusted the students would return something wonderful.....and they did!
My Thanatology class wanted to open to all students the types of conversations we had daily in class; they found Candy Chang's TED talk on her Before I Die project. The students replicated the Before I Die wall in the back of my classroom and the students still write on it every single day.
My #inspiringspace has become a gathering space and touchstone for students across campus. My room is FULL of students (many of whom I don't have in class) all day long. In truth, their presence is what inspires ME.

Nvyette and Kevin - The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, GA

When we first moved into the classroom a few years ago, we were intentional about making the space more student-friendly. We decided to get rid of the two clunky teacher desks in order to maximize our corner spaces. In the photo, you see our reading nook. We asked a relative who works in contracting to build the bench and purchased patio pillows to soften it up. We also added a neutral color rug and wicker baskets to house our classroom library. The bean bags add additional flexible and comfortable seating options. Instead of adding another bulletin board to display our word wall, we framed out a square area with thin molding and used twine to divide it up. Students gravitate to the reading nook - it's a great collaborative space for partner and small group work.

Michael Morrison - Laguna Beach USD

Michael wowed us with his many #inspiringspaces Tweets - including this inspiring space for teacher training and classrooms with HUE lighting. He also shared some videos of teachers describing their spaces.
Here's an article he wrote about his school district's journey with inspiring learning spaces.

Thank you to everyone that participated in the Challenge and to our friends at Smith System who donated their inspiring furniture as prizes! Don't forget to check out the Collection and to keep sharing your spaces with us online!

Monday, December 14, 2015

No Internet? No Problem. 10 Ways to Use Google Offline!

Heading into an Internet dead-zone over the holidays? Have no fear! There are many things you can do with Google without connecting to the World Wide Web.

  1. Chrome Offline Gmail App
  2. Using Maps without a Connection 
    Save a copy on Apple devices and on Android 
  3. Files Accessible Offline
  4. Play a Game! Just use the spacebar to start after losing connection.
  5. Listen to Music
  6. Chrome Calendar App
  7. Plan for When You're Offline Permanently 
    Choose what happens when you can no longer use your account: 
  8. Preload Documents
  9. Access Documents Offline on Mobile 
    Open the document > Settings > Keep Offline 
  10. Find Chrome Offline-Capable Apps
Did you know EdTechTeam does a 1:1 with Chromebook Workshop? Visit for more info.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Digital Learning Spaces: A Multidimensional Approach

Part 4: Digital Learning Spaces

David Jakes is the Director of Learning Spaces for EdTechTeam and leads the Learning Space Design Studio. The Studio, created to support schools in developing compelling and engaging learning environments, is the most recent addition to the comprehensive services offered by EdTechTeam.

Many schools have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, a 1:1 program that provides students with a device and a new level of connectivity to resources, people and ideas. As expected, such capacity is disruptive to the ways in which education has operated for decades, and these programs directly challenge schools not only to rethink how students learn, but where they learn.

New connective technologies for every student means that learning in the physical spaces of school has the opportunity to change and that this enhanced capacity should encourage the development of additional spaces for learning - specifically, dedicated digital spaces for learning. By using these new technologies to create such spaces, schools can create more expansive conditions for where kids can learn, effectively enlarging those conditions to include a mixture of spaces that can support learning in the typical physical classroom, online, and in a blend of both spaces.

This larger ecology of learning spaces can look different for every school, but the time has come for schools to develop serious online locations for learning. Certainly, a thoughtful approach for developing digital spaces could include locations for teachers (Google Classroom) and for students (Google Apps for Education) that provide both with a range of tools that support teaching and learning. Additionally, and beyond “school-owned” digital spaces, schools must negotiate and find value (and acceptance) in the social spaces that students already inhabit. A mixture of school-supported spaces, coupled with student-selected spaces, can create a compelling mix that can support interesting learning connections.

Blending a two-part digital space (teacher and student) with the traditional physical spaces of schools can create a multidimensional approach to how spaces are used for learning, and creates the conditions for a new contemporary spatial landscape. Forward-thinking schools will realize that using devices just to connect to the Web is not enough, but connecting students to intentionally designed digital spaces that provide students with a broader learning experience will be essential in creating relevant and inspiring schools.

Join the Challenge!

Check out the #InspiringSpaces on Twitter for learning spaces ideas from around the globe! We're giving away furniture from Smith System through December 11th so share a picture of your inspiring learning spaces for a chance to win!

Week 1 Challenge Winner: Simon's Thinking Road!