Abstract 404

Constructing Outcomes: Using Backwards Design to Create Effective Classroom Environments

Presentation:  Elizabeth Greenwood

Session A | 9:00 – 9:40 | Location: Room 310


As educators, we have the responsibility to create a place of learning that fosters growth in our students. In 1980, Edward Soja proposed “The Socio-Spatial Dialectic”, a theory that locates place at the meeting point between the physical environment and humans. In other words, it is the interactions between space and people that results in a meaningful place. Within place, a school becomes our school and a classroom becomes our classroom. Places can resonate with either harmony or discord, dependent on the interactions that exist there. As educators, we seek to create places of harmony, places where students can develop socially, emotionally, and academically.

As classroom structures become more flexible, it is the job of the teacher to use the space to encourage such growth. In order to further understand the creation of place in school environments, I propose two questions: how do school environments act on students and how do students act on school environments? And what do the resulting trends tell us about how we should construct the physical environments to foster interactions that align with our own education philosophies and practices?

In order to address these questions, I have broken down the physical space of classrooms into three categories: workspace, accessibility, and decor. Each of these three areas will influence students and their interactions within the space in different ways. I will explore my own experiences with each of these areas as a way to provide grounding for the framework that I will propose be used aid in the construction of classroom spaces. This framework will utilize backwards design as a way for educators to systematically construct spaces to be places of harmony. These harmonious places will invite interactions that align with our desired outcomes. Participants will be invited to consider their own educational philosophies and practices and join in the use of this framework to more fully understand their own spaces.

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