Tag Archives: Middle school

Design Update #5, 5/19

JLS Middle School Flexible Classroom: Katie and Manmeet

Assumptions about ways learners interact with the space:

  • Students – use a microphone while giving a speech, move furniture to set up the room, set up the screen projector, store their backpacks while using the space, form cliques and sit with friends, clean up after use
  • Teachers – reserve the space for use, decide furniture orientation, organize and instruct students to maintain order or encourage participation, ensure student safety and foresee trip hazard, ensure proper ventilation and sunlight for student and self comfort, monitor all students (10 to 100),
  • Parents – Bring in food when volunteering to host events, help clean up the space, ensure student order

Almost all the assumptions about interactions mentioned above can be explored using experience prototype. We plan to design two experience prototypes with the help of 6 volunteers who would be assigned to role play. The play would consist of 4 students, 1 teacher and 1 parent.

The prototype would require the teacher instructing students to rearrange the room in order to conduct a class activity. As middle school children the students would follow instructions but not diligently. All students would work at different pace, would have different attention level and would show a natural tendency to talk among themselves. Next a small class activity such as practicing oratory skills or spelling bee would be performed.

After the classroom activity, the parent would try organizing a lunch session for a group of 100 students (prototyped by 4 students) and later help clean up the space.

Through this experience prototype we would gain a better understanding of the challenges experienced by a teacher, frustration and restlessness experienced by a student and anxiety experienced by a parent. This would help us designers gain empathy for the space users and consider user needs while redesigning the space.

 

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Update: Lounge@JLS Middle School

What is special about this place, and the learning that happens in it?

The teacher’s lounge at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School serves multiple functions, few of which have anything to do with being  a “lounge”:

  1. 5 times a year, it serves as a thoroughfare between the indoor corridor (where ping-pong tables are stationed) and the “Cafetorium”, in which the school dance is held.
  2. Every day there are teachers using the copy machines it houses to prepare materials for teaching. They might come and use the fridge and microwave as well.
  3. Sometimes it serves as the venue for PTA meetings, during which coffee and bread are offered for participants to take away.
  4. There are big storage lockers for computer carts, which are accessed many times a day.
  5. If the staff working in the “Cafetorium” want to use the bathroom, they have to go through this space.

Apart from these functional activities, the only time the space is used for “learning” purposes is when teachers want to collaborate together but cannot find a meeting room elsewhere on the school campus.  Many of the teaching staff recently took part in a workshop at the d.school at Stanford in early January, and they seem to be keen on using design thinking in their teaching — it would be good if this space could be made to support their newly-acquired collaborative ethos.

What “aha”s or insights help to constrain your design?

  1. Since the room has high traffic (people coming in and out for copying, and computer carts coming in and out for usage and storage), furniture in the room should be easy to move. 
  2. Principal Ofek expressed her visions for the room in terms of adjectives: relaxing, comfortable, professional and collaborative.  These seem to suggest a space that is  relatively cozy, but also professionally productive.
  3. Principal Ofek also mentioned that many teachers, especially those who are younger and those who have their own  classrooms, rarely come to the lounge for downtime. Motivating teachers to come and collaborate is part of the challenge too.

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Learning Space: Middle school

Where we are in the process:

Where is your space?

Katie and I are considering redesigning a teachers lounge or a classroom at a middle school. We have a proposal for redesigning a flexible classroom at a middle school and are still exploring options to redesigning a teachers lounge. 

Who are the stakeholders who have an interest in your design, and how will you connect with them?

The stakeholders with direct interested in our design would include teachers and students. The design would also impact the administration and maintenance staff who would build the space and maintain it. We intend to connect with our stakeholders by interviewing them at the school where the design would be implemented. We would also visit other schools to benchmark similar learning spaces and talk to the people using them.

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Learning Space: Where we are in the process…

Where is your space?

Although we’re still deciding upon our location, I would ideally like to redesign a space in a middle school.  While teaching in a middle school, I realized how important the layout and design of a space is in contributing to the environment and culture of the school.  I am especially interested in spaces used by adults, and how these spaces can be used to ease some of the unnecessary burdens of teaching.  At my school, students had access to the faculty lounge, and we shared our classrooms with after school programs.  Sharing these spaces made it difficult to have conversations with adults, to take a quick break and eat, or just have some space to work.  I would be interested in creating a space that allows teachers to recharge, collaborate and converse with one another.

Who are the stakeholders who have an interest in your design, and how will you connect with them?

While still unsure of the project, there are many stakeholders when designing a space at a school.  The administration would certainly be involved, especially in identifying the cost and need for the space.  The janitorial staff should also be consulted regarding how the newly designed space will affect their jobs.  In addition, if the space involves teachers and/or students, they also should be accounted for in the design process, looking into how they may be negatively/positively affected by the changes.  Finally, it’s important to look at where the space is, in relation to the rest of the school.  If it is amongst classrooms, then it’s important to look at how neighboring rooms will be affected, and how it may upset the current flow of foot traffic. It’s important to empathize with the people who will be affected by the changes, and gather their input and opinions on how the space will best serve them and their needs.

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