World Builder, Classroom Edition (or, "How I spent my summer vacation," by Mr. Jarrett)
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September 4, 2012 By: Kevin Jarrett
Filmmaker Bruce Branit
's brilliant, powerful short film, World Builder
, has been a favorite of mine for years. We have used the first four minutes, thirty seconds of it in class to inspire students with possibility (click here
, scroll down to the entry for 4th grade). If you haven't seen it, here's your chance. It's fantastic.
This film popped into my head repeatedly over the summer as I worked in my new room. At times, I felt a lot like the character in this movie. Seriously.
This was my holodeck:
With guidance from amazing people like Christian Long
, Chris Lehmann
, Mary Beth Hertz
, Kristen Swanson
, Gregg Festa
, and many others, I immersed myself in the task of creating a truly student-centered collaborative learning environment. Christian began by suggesting I read Make Space
, the acclaimed learning space design tome by the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University
("the d.school.") . He also provided me two fantastic texts on modern school architecture, The Language of School Design
and The Third Teacher
(by his own firm, Cannon Design
. They literally "wrote the book.") These resources were invaluable to me as I mentally constructed the master plan for the space.
Then, with a little sweat and the support of my administration and school community (our amazing Parent-Teacher Organization and Education Foundation), the magic started to happen.
Working within the constraints presented by immovable walls and permanently-mounted furniture / technology, I started to imagine what the room could look like:
Then, it was like ... bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt ... there's a foam cube, just like they talk about in Make Space
Then, bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt ... a Z-Rack
Again, bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt ... a giant whiteboard wall:
... and it didn't stop there. Colorful mats appeared in front of the SMART Board
. An old DVD player was repurposed into an electronic signage system
. Donated supplies from colleagues
arrived. Even some wonderful, serendipitous things appeared, like inspirational quotes painted on the walls
by a Monica De La Torre, an active member of our fantastic parent community. There are so many more examples. And I am so, so grateful.
We're not done. Furniture is still enroute. Some technology still needs to be put in place. And, our whimsical "newsroom clocks
" aren't here yet, even though the project was funded by several generous donors weeks ago. (Some things aren't as easy as they appear in the video.)
No, it's not perfect, but it is excellent
. And it's Version 1.0 - a design sure to be improved, informed by interaction with its most important occupants - our students.
What happens now?
We're at my favorite part in World Builder
, precisely four minutes and twenty-nine seconds in, the moment just before it all becomes real.
Thanks go out to everyone who made this amazing learning space possible, from our school leaders to parents to colleagues near and far, to the sponsors
who donated materials, goods and services.
All I did was dream it up. In the process, I learned so much.
Soon, it'll be the kids' turn to dream ... and, to learn.