5 Classroom Learning Zones to Promote Engagement
- 23rd April 2021
- Anthony Bowie
When designing a classroom, creating differentiated classroom learning zones is a useful way to personalize the learning environment to meet the diverse needs of students. This strategy can be used with all age levels to organize learning spaces into established zones where students can engage with different learning environments and types of content. Each classroom learning zone can highlight specific areas of learning and teaching and support a variety of teaching approaches, student voice and choice, and unique learning styles.
Before choosing how you’re going to organize your classroom learning zones, it’s important to consider what your classroom needs are. Not every zone is functional for every classroom, so choosing engaging zones is crucial to effectively utilize classroom space.
Here are five ideas for creating functional and engaging classroom learning zones:
What it’s for: In this zone, teachers can lecture, and students can present.
A whole group zone refers to the traditional classroom area where students sit at desks or tables surrounding a central presentation area where there some type of whiteboard or screen. In this area, students’ attention is focused in on the central presenter, whether that’s the teacher making announcements or lecturing, or a student or group of students presenting their personal work. In a whole group learning zone, individual desks or tables––all arranged facing the front of the classroom––are the most functional layout to support the instructional delivery model. While every lesson does not require whole group instruction, it is important to consider casters for quick reconfiguration and furniture that is very adaptable to various functions.
What it’s for: In this zone, students exchange and develop ideas together.
Collaborative work keeps students engaged and is important for them to gain important communication and teamwork skills. Creating a specific classroom learning zone where students can gather with classmates to collaborate or work on group activities and projects makes it easy for students to transition from individual activities to collaborative activities. Tables or soft seating for students to gather around are particularly functional in collaborative learning zones, and accessories such as mobile marker boards can provide students with a central workspace to work through activities as a group.
What it’s for: In this zone, students can find deep focus to complete personal work.
Space for students to work independently is crucial to their academic progression. In independent classroom learning zones, students can hone in on concepts they haven’t mastered or work on practice activities to improve their skills. Independent work zones should be free of distractions, but students should have space to spread out necessary learning materials and personal devices to accomplish their goals while working independently. Single desks or small tables in a sectioned-off area of the classroom enable students to give their full focus to personal work without the distraction of students in groups or students moving through the classroom. Learners may also choose to spread out on the floor with floor cushions or choose a comfy spot on soft seating ottomans or steps. Variety is a key component when implementing learning zones, so that students choose the best learning zone that fits their learning style and the activity.
What it’s for: In this zone, students can get comfortable while they read or study.
Students need breaks from doing traditional learning activities sometimes and taking a reading break is a productive way to step away from classroom work while still keeping students’ brains engaged. In a reading zone, comfort is key, and students should be able to lounge comfortably while they take a break from active learning spaces where they have been sitting or standing at desks and tables throughout the day. Giving students this space allows them an area to take time to themselves and refresh their minds before diving back into learning.
What it’s for: In this zone students can discover, investigate, and interact with learning content.
If you only have space for one unique learning zone outside of your traditional whole-group learning space, a makerspace might be the option for your classroom. In a makerspace, students have free reign over their learning, and are able to observe and investigate new ideas or concepts by interacting with hands-on activities and experiments. A makerspace gives students voice and choice, engaging them in active discovery and learning. Plus, all that is needed for a basic makerspace is a large, durable workspace or table and some tools and materials for students to experiment and create with.
Classroom learning zones are a great way to engage students in their learning by giving them voice and choice over how and where they would like to learn throughout the day. These spaces also enable a wide variety of different learning opportunities by providing a functional and effective environment for students to engage in specific learning activities. When designing a classroom, consider utilizing learning zones to promote engagement and productivity for students and teachers alike