Page 30 - THE Journal, October/November 2018
P. 30

Classroom (Re)Design for Innovative Teaching
Joshua Bolkan
AS PEDAGOGY EVOLVES AND classrooms move further and further away from the sage on the stage model of knowledge delivery, how can districts
make sure their classrooms are supporting innovative new teaching styles? When they’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to build whole new schools, how
can they ensure those new spaces are fit for future generations, no matter how pedagogy has evolved?
The Muskego-Norway School District has fortunate enough to try to solve both those problems recently. When they decided to build a new middle school, the answer to the second questions was, at least in part, to build a new fabrication lab — a 900-square-foot classroom with a 3D printer, laser engravers, desktop CNC machines, a Google Jamboard and a library that will act as an extension of the space.
But the answer the district found to the first question, the answer that District CIO Tony Spence gets excited talking about, was to put teachers in charge.
The district began moving toward a 1-to-1 computing environment in 2013. They’re currently about a third of the way there, according to CIO Tony Spence, with students in grades 5–12 using Chromebooks. But along the way they saw more opportunities to imple- ment personalized learning, according to Spence.
They knew they would need to rethink some of their classrooms to better accommodate a new kind of teaching and learning, but instead of hiring experts to come in and tell them how to reorganize everything to fit the new model, the district decided to ask the teachers what they needed and then get it for them.
The district set up a cohort process in which they offered teachers professional develop-
ment on personalized learning, and then those teachers were able to participate in a proposal process by which they could request additional resources.
“That could be furniture; that could be technology; that could be other — we’ll call them consumables, like other software that requires annual subscriptions and, when appropriate, the new projection systems and the training that goes along with that,” Spen- ce explained, mentioning new Epson boards that are being put into some classrooms as a result of a referendum.
Spence said that, though final approval is up to the district office and runs through principals, “75 percent of the time it’s more on the teacher to make the decision than it is anyone else.”
While he did suggest that there’s room for improvement in the process they developed —hesaidthatifhehadittodooveragainhe would limit the options to a list of approved
Photos: Tony Spence, CIO, Muskego-Norway School District

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