Physical Space + Thinking = Cultures of Learning

Brandt, Alisa

Lange, J. (2016, August 9). Physical space + learning = cultures of learning
    [Blog post]. Retrieved from Independent Ideas website: http://aislnews.org/

    ?p=4356

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This is a very short blog post about how physical spaces in a school (and library) should reflect the kind of learning activity that takes place there. Lange was inspired to write this post after attending a conference in which author Ron Ritchhart presented a session based off of his book, Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools. Richhart suggests that the activity in a classroom “shifts” from one in which the teacher presents material to the class to one where students and adults can work collaboratively. Richhart suggests that there are three kinds of learning spaces: “caves” (for individuals); “watering holes” (small groups); and “campfires” (large groups led by a “storyteller”).
The article continues with some suggestions for creating these spaces. Lange recommends displaying student work and surfaces covered in whiteboard paint so students can demonstrate their thinking. She also shares that she created a kind of Harry Potter “house sorting” book display for students to “sort” their summer reading into one of the three houses from the book. This demonstrates peer thinking in an open and shared space. And finally Lange offers another suggestion from Richhart to go on a “ghost walk” through other educators’ classrooms to get a sense of the kind of activities and what types of learning happens there and how that can be enhanced by the library.


Evaluation: I am very interested in reading Mr. Richhart’s book after reading Lange’s post but I have to say that I see some underwhelming examples of how to use the author’s suggestions. I would be curious to know more about Richhart’s thinking about physical spaces and how they create cultures of learning. Certainly displaying student work gives an example of a particular learning culture and it becomes a way to echo and reinforce those cultures. But I would also like to learn how to create those spaces in my library. We have already seen that our group study rooms from individuals or small groups works well in addition to our open group study areas. We also have two classrooms for a “campfire” space. But I think it would be great to be able to learn how to help individuals more.

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