Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Your Ideal Classroom

What are three characteristics that would be part of a "perfect school" five years from now? Think about the roles of the student, teacher, and technology as you describe your ideal learning climate. As you consider this question, you might also think about what you might look for in your ideal college.

Please consider this question seriously and realistically, as your responses will be considered by our 21st Century Learning team.


hannahl said...

The first thing in my ideal classroom would be laptops for EVERY student! I was fortunate to be part of a laptop English classroom last year, and I understand and praise the way this tool is revolutionalizing education. I believe it can connect people, help each student learn the way they learn best (i.e., blogging for shy people, typing vs. handwriting). I also think it makes the classroom highly efficient and opens up a world of resources (the internet) and allows the student to feel like they are in control of their own learning.
The second aspect of my ideal classroom would be a small class size of about 10-15. I think this is vital because it gives the teacher a chance to focus on each student in the way which they deserve. Also, the students are able to grow in their discussions and gives a chance for every person to have an input in these situations.
The third aspect of my ideal classroom would be a differentiation in grading/testing. Last year, I experienced multiple ways of assessing the learning of each student. For example, we did an oral test for Romeo and Juliet, we did group quizes, and we even had students prepare the quizes when teaching "1984". I also think that the ideal classroom would change its way of grading. I think grades can either motivate, or assist in a cycle of failure and a lack of self-confidence in academics. I do not have a clear solution for this problem in grading, but I think that schools and teachers rely far too much on it right now.

Madisont said...

I'm really selective when it comes to an ideal classroom. I need the right environment, a teacher I like, and material I understand.

In the classroom, I really like to have music playing. I tend to work so much better when I have music playing in the background, and it's the environment I work in at home. I also really like to have open chairs to a desk. I get very uncomfortable when I have to fit under a small desk, and the chair is stuck to the desk. There is no way to arrange your body so as to fit comfortably behind the table part of the desk. So I fidget, and I spend more of my time in the classroom trying to get comfortable then trying to pay attention. Lastly, I really like having games or intro things, such as the "Target" intro we had in class. It really makes me feel like the teacher will know me personally, and I'm not just another student to teach. I do not like formal classrooms, and I enjoy it a lot more if the experience is much closer.

I will repeat though, I'm a picky person, so this is pretty detailed.

AustinD said...

The prefect school, in my opinion, must have these things:

1. A great school must provide oportunites for the student to learn and be challange. A problem I've had with my elementary and middle school was the fact that there wasn't any dificulty in what I was learning nor was there any inspiration to specialize the cirriculum twards my needs. I find that I am much happier going to school when I am challanged.

If I get a chance, I'll post the other parts.

morganw said...

One of the three things that would make the ideal classroom learning environment for me would be a teacher who has a sense of humor and who has a genuine passion for the subject. One thing I have never understood is a teacher who doesn’t like the subject that they are teaching. Now tell me, why on earth would you teach a class on a subject that you do not enjoy? All it does is make the subject seem boring and irrelevant to the students. That doesn’t allow for the students to really learn and understand the subject.
The second thing I would like in a classroom is a laptop. But not necessarily a school issued laptop. If every student could have their own laptop that they could take with them to every class it would be awesome.
The third thing I would like in a classroom would be, ironically enough, some sort of book or written, printed material. I personally find it easier to learn with a variety of materials.

macm said...

If I could design my ideal clasroom, it would probably have these traits:

1)MANY different ways to learn. This is a biggie for me because I find it important that everyone has a way to learn that they feel comfortable with. That way, other kids can also discover new types of learning they might find enjoyable.

2)Enthusiastic environment. It seriously bugs me when people are apathetic about learning. When a class is able to discuss but not fly off the handle, it is usually fun and successful. (Don't get me wrong, the right amount of goofing around is perfect in a class room!)

3)Interesting subject matter. When the material is boring, nobody wants to learn it. Simple.

Ah, what a perfect world that would be!

morgant said...

There are a lot of improvements that school could use. One improvement that I think is very good is the student doing most of the learning. So far in my English classes, the teachers did a very good job of this. In order for the student to honestly learn is to have them do it themselves. Of course, teachers may need to give a little direction, but the student ultimately needs to take control of their own learning. I definitely agree with Hannah, smaller classes help quite a bit. That way, students are less distracted, but most of all they get individual attention. Not that doing this is impossible in larger classes, but smaller classes are just easier to work with. I also agree with Morgan. A teacher with a sense of humor makes the class so much more enjoyable for the students. I mean, who in their right mind would want to be in a class where they listen to the teacher drone on and on until you fall asleep? I wouldn’t! I love teachers with a sense of humor.

amyw said...

1. I think that the education should be entirely technology based, and every student should have a laptop. Even though we have some technology at Arapahoe already, some teachers are still afraid of it and we need to change that. In a perfect school, everyone would be comfortable with a technology based education.

2. Teachers won't "spoon-feed" the students as much. True, every teacher doesn't do this, but some still do and it's frustrating. They grade our binders, they stand over us while we take notes…we aren't in elementary school anymore!

3. There shouldn't be just PowerPoints and note-taking in class! Not only is this not exciting for the students AT ALL, but if it's not exciting they aren't going to remember any of it, so it accomplishes nothing. The curriculum needs to be taught in different ways! (This goes back to #1 because with technology, there are many different ways of teaching: blog discussions, writing papers on Wikispaces, etc).

whitneys said...

Hannahl ~ I Completely agree with what you say about smaller classes. That would be really nice.

MorganW ~ I think passion and humor are also so important.

This is my second year looking at and analyzing the school system. From previous research, personal experience, and discussions with other students/ teachers, it is difficult to pinpoint just three characteristics I deem the most important. However, I will try.
This first characteristic is definitely the availability of technology, such as computers and the programs they contain. Not only do they provide a portable library with the internet, but programs such as photostory, wikispaces, google docs, moviemaker, and so many others. These programs open up doors for the teachers to assign students projects or assignments allowing students to be more creative with their work; more creativity allows students to be producers of information rather than just regurgitators.
Further, there needs to be a change of focus. In the past, the principle of school was to learn facts and information because it was not readably available, well now it is. Thus, school should not be about memorizing just facts that can be easily accessed on the internet, but pushing students to be producers of information. Let students utilize the facts as a basis for their own ideas. This will cause students to learn the information instead of just memorizing it.
Finally, there is a characteristic students need to require. We go to school everyday because law requires it. We sit and learn because we have to. Yet, no matter how much we want to disagree, what we learn in school is very important for our future and the future of our culture. Therefore, the mindset of us as students needs to change. We need to school for the point of learning and not just because we have to. This new mindset will greatly improve the school environment.

Sorry for the long commentage, I have a lot of passion for this subject:)

marissas said...

I think that our school is well on its way to being very technological, which is how all the schools will be in the future. But there are a few changes that could be made to improve our learning environment. I think that each student should have their own laptop to carry around to every class they have at school. Students that already have laptops or are able to get one could bring them and students that aren’t able to purchase their own could lease them from the school. This way, students could eliminate all textbooks, notebooks, etc. I also think that there should be a lot of different approaches to learning in the classroom that will really keep the students engaged. An example of this would be playing educational games such as the avatar second world program that Mrs. Leclaire described in class today. This would help students enjoy school more which would probably improve grades as well. Lastly, I think the classrooms should be more updated (i.e. painting the walls, more comfortable desks, having multiple resources). That way the classroom can be a modern environment that every student can feel comfortable in.

chelseas said...

One of the things that would make the ideal classroom environment for me is the class size. I find that it is easier to learn if there are fewer students, and more one-on-one instruction. With a smaller class size, students are also able to get to know the teacher better, and many times on a more personal level. This often times makes students feel more comfortable asking questions and participating more. The second thing that I would change would be the option to have either an online version or a hard copy of a text. I think that it is easier to have a textbook to read from rather than online. It gets very tired staring at the computer screen after awhile, especially when there are multiple chapters to read! I think that this is most important for classes like math, science, and history, where it is often necessary to refer to previous concepts learned. Finally, I would change the variety of subjects offered. I would like to see more courses offered so that everyone can find a class that they enjoy. Maybe this would help solve the unwillingness of some students to try and participate. I think that the English classes, in particular, should be divided up more. For example, some people love Shakespeare and others do not. I think that they should be broken up differently so that there is an enjoyable class out there for everyone. These are the three changes that I would make in order to make my ideal classroom in the future.

sdermody said...

What great ideas you all have! There were lots of ideas posted that I would have never thought of but when brought up I realized, were in fact, things that would benefit a classroom. Madison your idea of having music is a great one and I would like to expand on it. In my ideal classroom, students would be able to listen to their own music while working. Now I understand that there are circumstances where this is not plausible (aka lectures) but there are lots of times when students could do so, for example, while writing or working on class work. I also agree with everyone’s ideas on laptops. They certainly are a valuable and crucial tool in our ever-changing technology driven world. Many people (Mac, Morgan, Whitney) were commenting on how they found it important to change or broaden our ways of learning. I too find this an excellent idea for future classrooms. We have known for a long time that not everyone learns in the same way but we still see some teachers lecturing everyday. I believe when more and more of these ideas become part of the classroom, school will not only be an I “have to” but I “want to”.

melissaz said...

Luckily at Arapahoe I have found that I have had some pretty outstanding teachers, with an exception on a few, but I think that having incredible teachers that love what they do is so important. To get students to enjoy learning and to make the most out of their experience also means that the teachers have to help with that. How can the student be expected to learn and grow if the teacher is not giving their all and opening all the doors they can? And, at least to me, it is easy to tell when a person really loves their job; it rubs off on the individuals around them and makes for a more positive environment.

Another thing that I see as an important aspect to creating an "ideal classroom" would be, as Hannah stated, a smaller class size. With fewer students a teacher could really focus on their students, help them go further, and not have the multiple other students to work with as well. Also, with a larger class it is harder for students to develop a sort of family connection that I feel is very important among students. Luckily last year in our very large English class we still grew as a family, but that is not usually the case with 30 students.

And the last aspect I find as important to a positive school environment is many opportunities for students to learn in different ways (like Mac said). The school system seems to have followed a cookie-cutter pattern for many years now, with the exception of a few classes, and that does not broaden our horizons of the many ways we can learn. Every person is different so therefore not everyone learns the same. If we could create more and different classroom experiences, that could help further the success of even more students.

Ryad said...

I agree with Hannah that it would be great for every student to have a lap top. I was also in a lap top class last year and now I have trouble picturing having English without them. I love how quick and easy it is to get information. For example if you don't know the meaning of a word your teacher used or in something you're reading you can look it up in just a few seconds.
Also, like Maddison, I would love to have music playing or to be allowed to listen to our i-pods. If students would just follow a rule to turn them off when the teacher is talking I don't think it would be a problem.
A few people have also menchioned enthusiasm. It is very difficult for the to go to a class where nobody is interested about the subject. Without enthusiasm students lack motivation so the quality of work falls.
One of my biggest complaints about the school is the way the classroom looks. Usually desks are set up in neat rows and walls are plain and white with perhaps a few measly posters. There is also no natural light. Bright or warm colors would make me more comfortable then the stark white walls we currently have. Florecent lights hurt my eyes after a while especially when I've been working on the computer. It would be nice if there were windows to let in the sun light.

roser said...

Agreeing with many other posts, I also think there are many perspectives to take, specifically a more visual, creative aspect to the "perfect school". Along with the passionate teachers, and new and improved technology, there should be a way to stimulate the mind, in an almost right-sided manner. For example, perhaps instead of a paper, students could have free reign to act in a video or skit;incorporating music or art. (What we talked about in class concerning our comfort zones.) I think it would not only provide an entertaining environment, but also that healthy balance of learning and understanding.

Although it is hard to satisfy everyones "perfect" ideas, I believe all of the suggestions are great, if not already growing in classes today.

delaney n said...

I see teaching methods and learning tools improve each and every year, so five years from now I look forward to a huge improvement.

Hannah and Whitney… You both said that you would rather smaller classes. Well for me, it would be completely the opposite. I am so anxious for college classes where I can interact with so many in one class. But there needs to be a certain approach. I completely agree with Mac who said that there needs to be many different ways to teach. My idea is to have one big class divided into smaller sections. This huge class would be instructed by all different types of teachers. Since everyone learns different ways, each teacher would have their own method and personality. That way the students could choose who they believe they would most benefit from.

Next I could hope for advanced technology in classroom environments. It is surprising that I would say this (because I am not exactly tech-savvy) but in all honesty, we need to keep up with the pace of our world. I believe that by making advanced technology an everyday routine we would be better preparing students for the future.

The last change I would make would be more options. If more subjects were provided that sparked the interest of more students, maybe more would be excited for class. Obviously we already have tons of available courses, so maybe students could make their own and recruit others to join. Either way, courses need to be available that will excite students and make them want to learn.

I apologize for the length! I guess I just had a lot to say.

ParkerH said...

This is definitely not a question I hear very often, but it is one that needs to be asked. I personally feel that one way that a "perfect school" would be attained would be getting rid of all the, for lack of a better word, garbage that goes on in learning. Now I know that some things are a part of school, like homework, and that sort of necessity isn't what I'm talking about. True, I don't like homework, but I mean things like some seniors and juniors picking on the lower grades, and both them and some sophomores picking on freshmen. There is no need for that in school, and quite frankly, it is uncalled for.

A second characteristic of a so called "perfect school" would be teachers that both teach the information in ways that get it across, as well as doing it while having fun. I always learn better when the teacher having a good time with the class while they teach.

My third suggestion would be modern, up-to-date learning styles that connect kids from multiple places. This laptop program is a very good way to do this. I can imagine talking/blogging with other students in places like Great Britain, Australia... even english-speaking kids in places like France and Japan. Now that would be quite the school, and I think it would be a very good way to learn.

meganu said...

If I were to have the “perfect classroom”, I would need a colorful classroom environment, the ability to use technology and a teacher I could really get along with.

First of all, the classroom environment is a big thing for me. I hate sitting in a room where the walls are painted white with a few things hanging on the walls and a boring old brown chalkboard. My perfect classroom needs color. Something interesting as well as thought provoking. I can concentrate better when I like my surroundings more. Even being able to go outside and learn would work for me; just as long as there’s something appealing to my surroundings.

The ability to use technology would also be helpful in my “perfect classroom”. In most classrooms, the only technology available is the projector that the teacher uses to display power points. I don’t think this is very useful. I love the idea that we get our own laptops in our English class. It is so much easier using them in the classroom. It would be even better if we all had our own personal laptop that we could take everywhere. A couple of my classes no longer have textbooks, they have the online version. Most teachers put handouts and things we need to read on their web pages. Having a laptop would be so convenient because we’d have everything we need, home or at school, in our hands.

Also, having a teacher that I like and can really get along with would do wonders. When I like my teacher, I find it easier to talk to them and get the help I need. It’s easier for me to listen what the teacher is saying. Usually when I don’t like someone, I just want to ignore them completely. It would be so beneficial for me if I like my teacher.

mollyd said...

1. My mom has told me about a couple colleges that run on the block system. That means that instead of having 5-8 classes a semester, you focus on one class at a time for about 3 ½ weeks. You go to class for about 3-4 hours a day and are just focused on one subject. You do a semesters amount of work in 3 ½ weeks. After that you have four days off and then you move onto a new subject. For me I think that would be really helpful because I think I can do better when I just focus on one subject at a time. I think that would be good for future schools and for college.
2. Just as many other people have said, in my ideal school I need to have good teachers. Teachers play a huge part in the learning experience and can affect how well you do in a class or whether you like the class or not. I like teachers that make the subject fun and are willing to help me if I am struggling with something.
3. I agree with Whitney that students should learn the material instead of memorizing facts and then just forgetting them. I have had many classes where I just memorize a bunch of facts for a test and then I forget it 2 days later. I think there needs to be better ways to learn it, and I think using the laptops will improve that. It allows you to explore many different options and it can make it a lot more fun, so kids actually want to learn.

jordans said...

My ideal classroom would involve as little technology as possible to function. I prefer simpler easier environments to learn in. I think more of a social and community classroom is a lot more efficient and less stressful. I do appreciate the laptops and computers to help stay organized and to explore different programs but the stress of faulty equipment sometimes seems to outweigh the positive sides of them. I like more old fashion ways of learning such as talking discussions and things that engage more emotions and human interaction. I really liked Madison’s idea of having music playing because I think it helps me focus and absorb more when I’m listening to music. In my ideal classroom there wouldn’t be grades; this method of teaching is used in colleges a lot or where you’re an entire grade is based off of your final. I think that a lot of grades don’t reflect what I’ve learned but the busy work I’ve completed. I think I would work harder as an individual I if my goal was to learn what I thought was important and not be bogged down with busy work. It seems that with grades you can work really hard to get as close to a perfect grade as possible but one stupid vocabulary quiz will bring it down significantly and make all the hard work seem pointless. I really don’t like it when I feel like I’ve wasted my time for no reason. I don’t think I would want my ideal classroom for every single class because I also think it’s important to adapt to different and various learning environments and teaching techniques. It’s important to try and teach yourself sometimes in the ways you know you learn because teachers won’t always teach in the specific way every individual learns. Especially for the real world you have to learn how to take things into your hands and be proactive about it.

MollyS said...

If I were to design my ideal classroom it would first and foremost have a teacher that was passionate about the subject. There is nothing that keeps kids from being motivated, it's when the teacher seems like there are other places that they would want to be! Another thing that would make the class perfect would be laptops for all. I know that a lot of the other responses include this, but when we had the computers last year it seemed like the world was just at our fingertips, just waiting to be incorporated into discussion, making the learning so much stronger. I also agree with MadisonT who said that music was important to her, I am another person who can't do any work (or even sleep at night!) without music playing in the background! So in my ideal classroom, music would always be playing!

Oliviak said...

In an ideal classroom, I would have to say there would be little use of laptops unless we needed them for a project or something. I just think that laptops can kind of be a pain when they don’t work and you’re falling behind because of it. Next I would have to say we would never sit in desks. I like sitting at a table with other people, it’s always nice to have someone right next to work with and ask a question if you get stuck. I also would have to say an ideal classroom would be one where the teacher guided us in the right direction and helped us along yet we had more choices on what we studied and what books we read. Doesn’t everyone enjoy and get more out of something if they chose to do it?

lizc said...

Wow. There are a lot of ways to go when it comes to choosing what an ideal classroom would be like. I like laptops and computers but when I get to college I don't want to be sitting in front of one the whole time I am doing my homework. Therefore, I would prefer to have a class with textbooks. That probably sounds really wierd. English goes well with laptops, but not every single class does. Next, my classroom would have to have a lot of windows so that the room would be full of natural light. I can't stand it when my rooms in school don't have classes. Sadly, I think that only two of my classes this year actually have windows in them. It makes me feel closed in like it's a prison or something. It really annoys me when I can't tell what the weather is like outside! Today it was gorgeous and for some reason I had it in my mind that it was raining because I couldn't see outside. Wierd, I know. Thirdly, I like having classes with a ton of people in them. For this reason I will most likely go to a big college. In my eyes it is always a chance to make new friends. People are really important in my life. In fact, my friends make up who I am. I am definately a people person!

EmilyJ said...

In my opinion, the ideal classroom would be quite different than that of modern classrooms. I have to say that I agree with what many of you said, but I would like to add just a couple things. I know a lot of people including myself who learn better by doing. So, instead of just memorizing information for a test or doing worksheets on the subject, somehow work physically and interactively with what your learning and for most, it will stick in their heads better.

Another thing that I think would be ideal is a more comfortable environment. Personally, I study better on my bed than in a desk and with light music playing rather than silence, just because it is more comfortable and it's easier for me to concentrate. I know some may not agree with me on that, but different people thrive in different learning environments, so it would be nice if there were different classes that could acclimate to different needs of students in which they could learn best.

Lastly, it would be more organized and more productive if everything was done on a laptop. Papers wouldn't be lost or forgotten, and you would only have to carry around one item with you. Personally, I think it would save a lot of stress.

KarlyH said...

One characteristic of an ideal future learning environment would be the use of technology without the loss of personal connection. Using technology in the class room can be a great resource and can have many very good impacts on learning. However, technology changes the stile of learning and can also make for less connection between a student and a teacher. There was a noticeable difference between the connection I had with my freshman teacher between the semester we were in a normal classroom and the semester we were in a laptop class room.
Another characteristic that would make for the perfect school would be a fun, interactive learning environment. Even the best teacher won’t have a good class if the students are not engaged in the learning. Many times I have not paid attention to a well put together or important lesson because I was not engaged and just daydreaming. In my perfect class room there would be lots of colors and bean bag chairs and music but I don’t think that is going to happen.
The only other thing that I can think of that would make a school better in 5 years is if it didn’t start at 7:21 every morning. I’m not really a morning person. :)

alexf said...

Well first off, I’d just like to say that you all had great ideas. Referring to everyone who suggested music, I definitely agree! I actually did my entire research project last year in Ms. Smith’s class on music and how it affects education. My research concluded that music in fact does help with concentration improves memory. So, I completely agree with you all in saying that music should be an important part of education.

Now, for my first part of a “perfect school,” I think that diversity is important. I mean this by saying that I think it’s important to have many, many diverse people in the class. The reason I say this now is because, and most people have probably noticed, there are a ton of girls in our class! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there has to be gender diversity, I’m just saying diversity in general. Also, I mean there should be diversity in regards to subject matter also. I think it is important to have diverse topics to explore and discuss, rather than the usual.

A second part that I think is extremely important in a “perfect school” is comfort. I realize that we did do a comfort “target” in class today and I think that that’s great! It’s important to be comfortable because then one can express his/her true feelings without feeling overwhelmed or “uncomfortable.” So far, however, I think Kakos is doing a great job of helping us all get comfortable.

A final part that’s important is a challenge. This can mean anything, really. I think that it’s important for everyone to be challenged at their own level. This helps one continue to want to learn. I definitely think that having technology in the class helps provide a challenge because then one can explore and challenge themselves.

KateP said...

I think to make a perfect classroom would be very hard, because there is always something wrong in each class I have taken. Agreeing with many other posts, laptops would be a must in my ideal classroom. Technology has become so advanced today and is used all around the world. Laptops would help the students learn just as well as books. Students are a huge part of my ideal class. I get very distracted easily thats why I find it easier to sit in the front. Smaller classes would be better, since the students get more attention from the teacher and there are less people to distract them. The desks should be spread out so you do not have someone looking at your work all the time. I find if I am in a calm, quiet, spacy classroom then I learn better. The teacher has a very important and difficult role. The teacher must make sure to teach all the required info, but go at a speed that mostly all students can keep up with. The main thing that a teacher must have is passion. If they do not have this, the class will not be interested in learing. I also agree with many of the other posts on their ideal classrooms, but it all matters on the student's needs.

MattN said...

The perfect classroom....hmmmmm...well I know everyone has already said it, but music would play a huge role in my classroom. I feel that listening to music that you like makes you comfortable and helps you concentrate and perform better on whatever you are working on. Second, I think that all sorts of technology will rule the world in a couple of years, so learning through laptops, cell phones, and even MP3 players would be a must have for all students in the school. I think that if you are not technologically savvy in the new information age it will be extremely hard to even keep up. Last, the teacher would know multiple different teaching styles and would have the time to help every single student, and give them the exact help, and learning styles that they need to succeed. For now, I think AHS has a little work cut out for us.

KiraW said...

I really think that at AHS, there are alot of chances that students get to tell their teachers how they want their classes to be and often they are able to change the class in a posotive way for effective learning. I think that the three main things that we need to have for a happy ideal classroom are humor, laptops, and interaction with other students. I always find that it is easier to pay attention to teachers if they add humor to their teaching. It helps to keep students interested and alse lightens the atmosphere. Laptops. Many of the classes at AHS already have laptops and it is a great way to use out resources. Finally, Student interaction. This is, in my opinion, the most critical point in the class. I feel that I am more involved and learn better when I am able to talk out my thoughts and get other students responces and opinions too.

shannanp said...

I agree with hannahl to begin. I definitely think that we should all have laptops because teachnology is becoming even important and necessary in our society. It also really helps in learning and gives us ideas and neaw thoughts from people all over the world.
Another change I would make is having maybe two teachers in a room. I think that with two minds they could explain the lesson more throughly and they would have different perspectives. This would work very well for people who learn differently.
The last change that I would make is to constantly be in a physical position to have an all class discussion. I think that this is extremely important so that students can get their classmates opinions on their thoughts and ideas. I also think that it is always nice to be able to talk during class and also have it be about the learning.