As I started my exploration into innovative classroom spaces, I became very inspired by both the design thinking movement and modernization of mega-companies’ office spaces. Places like the Google and Apple campuses’ across the globe have demonstrated how space can encourage collaboration, innovation and fun.
The d.school (The Institute of Design at Stanford) is one such incubator of creative thought regarding working together. The research and work they have contributed to collaborative space has certainly inspired me. As I read through the d.school’s book, ‘Make Space‘, I came across a section explaining how to make white boards out of a variety of materials. In fact a ‘white board’ can be made out of just about any non-porous material. (Try the table you are sitting at now – you may be surprised!)
This discovery led me to trying to make a variety of surfaces ‘writable’. One of the best developments in my learning space has been the whiteboard table. My whiteboard tables were made in-house. Our properties department sourced a high density laminate top which was placed on old computer tables. The tables have been a huge hit. ( Later we began working with a manufacturer to develop the Adap-Table)
The tables benefits may seem obvious but I’m happy to list them:
- Immediacy – it’s like having butcher paper, post it notes or scrap paper with you at all times.
- BIG scale student collaboration works better because the ‘paper’ is huge and everyone has equal access to it.
- Table is at a perfect height for either standing, leaning or sitting in an adjustable chair.
- Easy to identify zones in the room by labelling tables with a marker.
- Great for both student and staff meetings
- Inexpensive (can be made by resurfacing a table with something as simple as shower board)
Whiteboard tables are a cheap and simple tool to integrate into your classroom space but they may have been the single greatest transformation to both my practice and the students’ learning.
***** A couple simple way to make a whiteboard table, get whiteboard paint see http://www.ideapaint.com/ or use a Shower board (detailed instructions can be found here: http://sproutclassrooms.com/classroom-diy-whiteboard-tables/