Physical Learning Environments

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Chris Gerry

Chris Gerry was a high school principal in the UK in six schools over an 18 year period. He built three schools directly which were noted for their innovative use of space and integrating technology including one to one laptop use. He currently runs The Skills Lab, an international education consultancy.
Physical Learning Environments

High-quality visionary learning environments impact student outcomes

This site looks at how we can change space in schools and change educational processes. Let’s be bold!

Latest posts
Sandrine Cardinale
Physical Learning Environments Why creating new education environments is not always enough In the past few months, I have visited many schools and colleges that have reinvented their education spaces. Be that classrooms, lecture halls or what I like to call “in between spaces”, so hallways or underused real estate in some instances. I am impressed at the level of intentional design within these spaces. Many leaders are recognizing the benefit of designing learning environments that are indeed collaborative, flexible and allow for various modes of learning. Within any school or college...
Chris Gerry
Physical Learning Environments School Design: It's an Architect Problem I well remember a first meeting with some architects a few years ago. We were wanting to design a new school and of course turned to groups of architects. You could tell they were creative my colleague quipped because they don't wear ties with their suits, whereas we of course did. 'So how do you see the school you want to build?' asked the lead architect attempting to get at our 'vision.' Before I could answer he whipped out a collection of pictures of new schools, all shiny with vaulting ...
Joshua Sawyer
Physical Learning Environments Are we giving educators a PLAYGROUND? the OPPORTUNITY… Educators in today's classrooms are often expected to be cutting edge, forward thinkers, innovators, demonstrators, role models, guides, facilitators, coaches, and much more. Most importantly, we as instructional technology leaders and supporters ask today's educators to make content and curriculum relevant to the millennial learner by “seamlessly integrating” into their teaching. Unfortunately, these parameters (in most cases) are poorly defined. While we all have our opinions ...
Chris Gerry
Physical Learning Environments Future Ideas for Learning - and Associated Spaces Have a look at this: ...
Надежда Муха
Physical Learning Environments Equipment and technology for a new school building: how to make right choices? A new building is being designed for our school (wow!), and the teaching staff is asked to help making specifications on technology and equipment. And, obviously, we are facing a problem - what is the right choice of furniture. devices and technology for the school opening in 3 years?.. Everything is becoming outdated so quickly! We would like the designers to make the learning spaces of our new school really multi-functional and adjusted for learning activities for people of different ages (...
Chris Gerry
Physical Learning Environments Blended Learning Models: Find them Here The world of online learning is developing fast, especially in the United States. Look here to see models that have been developed: This site is excellent and you can subscribe for free to receive their updates. ...
Chris Gerry
Physical Learning Environments Looking for ideas on new learning spaces: look here There are not many people collecting pictures of new learning spaces around the world, but Stephen Heppell is one of them. If you want to be inspired and uplifted by what people are doing look here: ...
Chris Gerry
Physical Learning Environments WHAT CAN I DO AS A CLASSROOM TEACHER? ‘So all this talk about new spaces is great and I would love to get involved. But I am a classroom teacher, how do I bring about such change? I don’t control any money or anything.’ This is a familiar refrain. The answer is that you can agitate. I have done many projects on space over the past twenty years and in each case there was ‘no money.’ Meaning: no project. But I found that it is ideas that can attract money and we can agitate. We can make plans. We can link with other people. We ...
Eman Yousef
Physical Learning Environments One to Many Machine for large Classrooms I think from my experience as a teacher that using One computer and projector can solve the problem of the lock of sharing and communication of weak and back sitting of students. Do you agree with me that is can be a solution for such problem? ...
Jacqueline Russell
Physical Learning Environments Imagine the Classroom of the Future We have all seen the ways in which tablets are transforming the education experience in classrooms across the world by enabling one-to-one computing, tailored learning, virtual group collaboration, digital skill building, mobile learning and many more changes in how our teachers teach, and how our children are learning. But one thing that hasn’t changed much over the past century, despite the rapid advancements in education, are classrooms themselves. We still see rows of desks lined up facing a ...
Julie Hembree
Physical Learning Environments Modern School Libraries: A Place of Learning and Collaboration When you think of school libraries are you thinking of them as places to enhance creativity, collaboration, and learning or old-fashioned book depositories? Is your staff member called a librarian or library media specialist reflecting the technology component of the position? Today’s school libraries are more than places for storytime and book searches. They are often the literacy and technology core of the school. For the past four years I have been involved with the construction of our new ...
Chris Gerry
Physical Learning Environments A Space Odyssey: The Final Frontier for Schools? Key issues: Why space is important Approaches to space Space and schools Change models – it’s not just about the space The rationale for space design in schools is quite simple: children are taught in groups of 30, 40 or 50. Such groups require separate spaces where teachers can teach and children learn. We call these spaces classrooms and their design has remained fairly constant for over a century. What this means is that the model of learning has essentially remained unchanged also. ...
Abdul Walid Misli
Physical Learning Environments Redesign & Improving Physical Learning Space A classroom can only be great, if it allows tremendous opportunity for learning to take place. Over the years, experts had defined what and how does 20th century classroom looks like, and how can it improve, and why is it important for this current - 21st century education. What school leaders and educators all over the world are rising their concern right now, is how we can actually redesign and transform the 20th century classroom to a 21st century classroom. Changing the way the classroom ...
Kevin Hoang
Physical Learning Environments Liselotte Nylander - Deputy School Leader at Hellerup School | Denmark | Liselotte Nylander - Deputy School Leader at Hellerup School - In Denmark, students have to go home at the end of the day but it is hard to get them out because they enjoy school so much. Educators work according to each student’s learning style base on the different ways each student learns. The educators help them find the right place to work and put great trust in them, helping students if they are unable to get this trust. Normal and traditional does not work in this system -- the teachers ...
Randall Fielding
Physical Learning Environments Creating "Thinking Spaces" The following is an excerpt from Thinking Through Project-Based Learning: Guiding Deeper Inquiry by Jane Krauss and Suzie Boss. It was published this month by Corwin. Take a moment and imagine a creative work environment. Don't worry about the kind of work going on. Just focus on the space. Close your eyes and picture it. What is that space like? What does it sound like? How are people interacting? Is there movement? Is there evidence of work in progress? Is it tidy, or busy-messy? Can you ...
Randall Fielding
Physical Learning Environments The Rise in ADHD: What Is Normal? A few days ago, this New York Times article came out: ADHD cases rising sharply among boys. The increase could fuel concern among doctors that the diagnosis and its medication are overused. __ BY ALAN SCHWARZ AND SARAH COHEN NEW YORK TIMES __ Nearly 1 in 5 high-school-age boys in the United States and 11 percent of school-age children overall have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease ...
Randall Fielding
Physical Learning Environments Inspiration for Learning Appropriately named, Anne Frank Inspire Academy of San Antonio, Texas, is a whole new kind of charter school whose vision is best described by founding Superintendent Bruce Rockstroh. In his own words, “I am more committed than ever to build and design the exemplary 21st century school that will become a model for learning around the world.” Paul Goldberger recently affirmed that ‘the place where people meet to seek the highest is holy ground’ and the Anne Frank Inspire Academy will become that...
Jackie Baptist
Physical Learning Environments Learn about the Hellerup School in Copenhagen - an interview with Liselotte Nylander the Deputy School leader at Hellerup School In Denmark, students have to go home at the end of the day but it is hard to get them out because they enjoy school so much. Educators work according to each student’s learning style base on the different ways each student learns. The educators help them find the right place to work and put great trust in them, helping students if they are unable to get this trust. Normal and traditional does not work in this system -- the teachers plan together so the students can seek assistance from teachers ...
Randall Fielding
Physical Learning Environments Can Flexible Learning Buildings be Beautiful? When surveying teachers and educational leaders about their most important aspirations for new school buildings, flexibility always rises to the top. We know that we cannot accurately predict the future. One thing that we can count on is that curriculum will change. How do we prepare for change while constructing facilities that may last for 30, 50 or even 100 years? The ultimate flexible design is a box with a regular grid of columns, allowing the users to rearrange walls with minimal ...
Randall Fielding
Physical Learning Environments A Recent Study Shows That the Built Environment Affects Learning Outcomes are what everyone compares when judging whether an educational strategy truly benefits learning, and this recent study supports the idea that the built environment can have a large impact on students: In the UK, researchers studied 751 students in 34 classrooms at seven Blackpool LEA primary schools between the start and end of an academic year, from September 2011 to June 2012. They collected student data, including age, gender, and performance level in maths, reading and writing, ...
Randall Fielding
Physical Learning Environments How Furnishings Affect Learning How do you remember your grade school furniture? Is it a fond memory, or do you recall small, unyielding chairs and uniform desks in rows? For me, just adjusting to sitting in one place for a long time was a huge task, and even now, we expect the “squirmiest” members of our society to sit still and listen to learn. Maybe 45% of them are able to learn well that way, but kinesthetic learners, or those who need more quiet space to learn are out of luck in a traditional classroom. At this FNI ...
Randall Fielding
Physical Learning Environments Home-like Schools Provide a Secure Learning Environment This school we recently opened in Vancouver features the warm wood tones of the region, and contains a wide array of built-in furniture and storage. Sunlight streams in through large glass panes and skylights, and working windows allow the school community to control air flow in their spaces. Rather than large central bathrooms, each learning community Has several smaller bathrooms, and many sink areas in the commons that promote hand washing and art projects too! How important is it that school...
Randall Fielding
Physical Learning Environments Designing Safe, Sustainable Schools Safety in schools is an on-going dialogue as we try to balance our gut responses with solutions that are not just practical and sustainable, but also enhance the learning experience. School campus design impacts safety, and changes that range from simple to complex can improve school safety and educational opportunities at the same time. This image is from an FNI school project outside of Seattle. By eliminating hallways and using transparency, passive adult supervision covers the entire school....
Randall Fielding
Physical Learning Environments How Spaces Affect Us Neurologically Why exactly do we feel comfortable in some places, but not in others? How can this impact our activity or our learning capacities in a particular space? This article from Pacific Standard Magazine asks another question, “Could neuroscientists be the next great architects?” Called, Corridors of the Mind and written last month by Emily Badger, it presents some fascinating information about how our brains react to physical spaces: Link: Now, I’m no neuroscientist, but I have designed and ...
Randall Fielding
Physical Learning Environments Are you a cave dweller or a villager? Do you prefer quiet nooks or large, active rooms when learning? Most of us are a little of both, depending on the circumstance, and students often wish for Cave Spaces in their learning areas. The safe feeling of enclosure allows them to relax, and for students with challenging home lives, such spaces are important for their success in school. In the image above, a nook in the background holds a bench for quiet reading, while the foreground shows furnishings that can easily be moved by students ...
Randall Fielding
Physical Learning Environments Video: "People Say It Looks Magical" Here’s a link to a short video produced by P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School: They’re located on the campus of the University of Florida, and are an actual department of the College of Education there. The K-12 school’s purpose is to provide a place to develop innovative learning programs for the school districts of Florida. My firm worked with P.K. Yonge to plan and design their new elementary school that recently opened, and this video shows some of the ways these new spaces ...
Randall Fielding
Physical Learning Environments Design for Learning—physical and virtual—place matters! Where we learn is as important as what and how we learn. Control over one’s environment is a critical component of comfort, happiness and focus. When you approach a table and chair setting, you pull the chair out a bit, not just to make space to sit down, but to assert your autonomy and control over the space you are about to inhabit. The same broad principles of autonomy and control over our environment apply to face-to-face places for learning and to the flipped classroom and Massive Online ...