Reflections on my Transformation of my Learning Environment

I finally finished designing my STREAM Studio letters! In my last post, I shared the excitement I had about purchasing the 18 inch tall letters to eventually be painted, decorated and placed on my rebranded classroom’s big bulletin board. After painting the paper mache letters in various grays, blues and a light orange, I began the process of gluing on objects which represent each letter and tiny blocks which spell out the actual meaning of each letter.

I reflected a lot last year on what an optimal learning environment would look like for my students at my elementary school. I see 1100 of them once every school day when they come with their homeroom class. In the past, my classroom had 15 computer desks and 30 computers on them. I envisioned getting rid of the bulky computers and 15 tables but then funding for new furniture became my focus.

I developed a vision for a STREAM Studio to replace my Computer Lab Technology Class. As the months moved on and I continued to do STREAM focused lessons which I have shared in previous blog posts, I framed my thinking and defined each letter of STREAM. I created a graphic on puzzle pieces to capture the idea that all of the pieces have come together for me to launch into designing a rebranded learning environment that is welcoming and child centered. Here it is:

I wrote a $5000 Grant but found out in May that it was not funded. My visionary principal talked with our PTO about funding some new tables, stools and two large area rugs for my classroom. She let me know that PTO would make the purchase along with some of our school funds!

By the last day of school on June 7, the new items had arrived and volunteers put together the tables. To my surprise, PTO contacted me during the last week of June to tell me that they could fund Phase 2 of my project to complete my new learning environment! In addition to the four whiteboard trapezoid tables on wheels which they already purchased, I requested another whiteboard trapezoid table, two whiteboard rectangular tables on wheels, a low to the ground circular table, more Wobble Stools for a total of 12, four reclining Flex floor seats, six Otto Stools which double as storage containers and which will house new floor cushions from Ikea! They will also purchase some new Chromebooks for my classroom!

As I wait on the delivery, I wanted to get the letters designed so that they will be ready to go up on my royal blue covered bulletin board. Last week, I enjoyed looking in the Dollar Section of Target and at Hobby Lobby for items to adhere to the STREAM letters. I glued every item on the letters with a clear, industrial strength adhesive which took five hours! It was tedious to glue each tiny cube on but I love how it turned out! The smell of the glue was overwhelming at times so I kept on the stove fan in my kitchen as I worked into the wee hours of the morning at my kitchen bar.

I squeezed the glue tube until my fingers were sore and used every drop! The images of the tube provide a picture of how I now feel after getting to this phase of the whole STREAM Studio project after working on it for this last year. Don’t get me wrong and think that I am all used up! Instead the idea is that I have poured hours of time into a research project known as an Impact Project in my school district to research learning environments that promote Personalized Learning through flexible seating. I selected Lakeshore Learning as the provider of most of my new tables, rugs and seats which required a lot of thinking about how I wanted my space to feel and look. I had to stay within a budget so calculating costs required time and forced me to make financial decisions.

Then, there has been the eight or more paint colors which I have contemplated to be painted on my feature wall. I asked my students some of their favorite colors for the wall before school got out. They were open to grays and blues for the wall. After painting swatch after swatch and comparing how the colors looked with my green and blue new rugs along with the orange, gray, blue and green Wobble Stools, I finally decided on a gray called Northstar by Sherwin Williams. Choosing paint color was a huge decision as it required me to read articles on decorating and study how each color looked on sample environments in the Sherwin Williams Color Snap Visualizer program at their website. Truthfully, I estimate that I spent hours on the paint decision. Some people could have made a quick decision but I deliberately chose to spend time thinking about the overall aesthetic that the paint would evoke and getting input from others.

In the end, I am now expectant as to how this new space will come together as my STREAM Studio classroom. I know that I have squeezed every ounce of energy into this project so time will tell. I will post pictures once I get the letters on the bulletin board and show the big reveal of new tables and seats!

My last pic is of the Northstar color on a sample wall! It shows the other colors which I considered at the bottom of the pic. And now, I will step back into relaxing for a few more weeks of summer vacation and be ready to decorate in August!

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