Mrs. Wilson\’s Inspired Classroom

About Our Classroom

Are you wondering why your child’s classroom is arranged this way?  Your child’s teacher is leading her students into a whole new world of learning. 
Read on to find out more.

What are Inspired Classrooms?
The term “Inspired Classrooms” hasn’t been around for that long. The term was coined in 2000 by Jerram Froese when trying to describe the perfect classroom environment for his 4th grade classroom at Gilbert Elementary in Irving, Texas. About that same time, Paula Barnard, a 4th grade teacher in Washington, posted a picture of her classroom with a similar seating arrangement and computer setup. The Inspired Classroom model brings the classroom computers from the perimeter of the room to the student’s desks. The student desks are arranged in small groups that allow students to have easy access to a computer throughout the day. This arrangement allows the technology to become an integral part of the learning process rather than an extra “center” or reward or project station. Short of a One-to-One environment, the Inspired Classroom model goes the distance in getting the technology in front of “most of the kids, most of the time,” and seemlessly integrated into the teaching and learning process.

Why Inspired Classrooms?
The reason behind setting up an Inspired Classroom is to put authentic and engaging learning activities in the hands of the kids that they can complete on their own, using the technology available to them within their team environments. The benefit to this model is that the teacher is not tied to the front of the classroom, but free to work one-on-one with individual students or small student groups. Teachers in the Inspired Classroom want the students to use the technology to get information, find solutions and respond as a team to prove understanding and learning.

Teacher Workflow in an Inspired Classroom.

Inspired Classrooms lead the teacher away from linear, sequential, lecture-based presentations of information. With the availability of information and resources on the internet, the teacher no longer has to be the one-stop shop for learning. In an Inspired Classroom, the teacher is the guide that creates a series of activities that leads the students as they learn on their own. Inspired Classroom teachers are also investigating alternative assessments that fit in to this model.

Teachers Creating Classroom Blogs
The people that have tried Inspired Classrooms and didn’t stick with it, have said that the technical organization is what didn’t work out for them. Browsing through the numerous powerpoints, word documents, network folders, etc. was too confusing for students and teachers alike. The technology was getting in the way of teaching and learning. Our answer to this in 2006 is the use of blogs. A blog is an online journal of sorts, where teachers can easily write articles (prompts) and students and student teams can respond. A blog is free and does not require any special software…its just fill in the blank. A blog will allow ALL of the teacher and student work to be gathered and organized in one location. The beauty is that it’s all online, so teachers can work from any location, and students and parents will have 24/7 access to ALL lessons and activities. Just start thinking in terms of (1) teacher prompt (posting an article), (2) student collaboration (activity/center), and (3) student/team written response (comment).

For example: the teacher will “post an article” to the blog; something like “Good morning class. Today we will be reviewing our spelling words. Get with your team members and write a story using all ten spelling words. Make sure that you are using the words in a way that I can tell you know what they mean. Oh, and one more thing, write the story from the perspective of Christopher Columbus. Use the comment button below to type and send your story to me.” Each team of students will go to the blog, read the teacher’s prompt, and work together and write their story and “comment” it back to the teacher. Because this is online, not all teams have to do this at the same time or even on the same day…it is simply a task (center) that they will complete. By the time all of the teams have commented back, the teacher will have her original activity prompt and all of the teams’ responses archived all on one webpage. The blog is both a communication tool and an organizational tool.

The best aspect of this is that it’s online. Parents can watch the progress of these assignments and their child’s progress. In fact, parents, grandparents, and anyone else can comment back on the students’ comments. With the blog, you have a built-in conduit to the “real world” outside of the classroom. All of the sudden, students realize that they are writing for a world-wide audience and the “real world” is able to respond back. All of this can take place online, within a safe, teacher-controlled environment. Also, don’t overlook the fact that teachers can create and grade assignments from any computer, from any location, at any time. No more carrying huge stacks of paper home to grade, or being tied to a network drive at school to access student work.

Taken from  created by Darren Wilson.


One Response to 'About Our Classroom'

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  1. […] As you pass out and begin to collect the volume of field trip permission slips, student ID cards, and related paperwork, don’t forget the Disctrict’s Technology Acceptable Use Policyand FERPA Notice. (I wouldn’t print these exact forms, because they may be out of date. Check with your campus principal.) The most common reason parents deny their student access or permission on these forms is due to not understanding these forms. They are written by lawyers and are very confusing. I recommend attaching a personal note to these forms when you send them home, explaining in everyday language what they say. I would also give specific examples of how you plan to use the technology in your classroom and the safeguards you have in place for student privacy. In a lot of cases, you might have to do a little parent education, especially when you start talking about wikis, blogs and podcasting. Here’s an example of how a 2nd grade teacher handles this. A hard copy of this will also go home in the homework during the first week of scool. […]

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