Learning Space Makeover
My colleague and I inherited a teaching space with two primary purposes: a) Band rehearsal room, b) Music Appreciation classroom. This double wide classroom was used for this purpose for nearly two and a half decades before our arrival in 2008.
When my colleague and I arrived we continued to use the space for similar functions but soon realized the limitations of the space and began to conduct instrumental music rehearsals in larger, multi-purpose rooms, but the Band Room continued to be used for Music Appreciation classes. We cobbled together an old, gun-metal gray A/V cart with a used combo cassette, CD and AM/FM unit (with an AUX input) connected to a video projector that displayed content from our computers, complete with a pull-down screen! We used the space this way for a good 6 years before I attend my first ISTE conference last summer (2014 in Atlanta). During the conference, conversations with our Educational Technologist – whom I was traveling with – went something like this: if we had a space to “re-do” at school, what could it look like? Coincidentally, the Band Room and several other areas around campus had been scheduled for seismic retrofitting construction the same summer as the ISTE conference which was a perfect convergence, and opportunity to design and make this space into a 21st century learning environment.
Here is the room as it had been oriented since I had arrived at St. Ignatius College Prep. It was essentially a rehearsal room after school and a classroom during the regular school day.
Architectural Plans for installation of items
Stuff beginning to appear. Jamie and I setting up the flat screen (after mounting to the wall)
Learning space beginning to resemble Skitch drawings. Had to keep the old A/V cart around for good measure! Sitting next to it is an 12-channel Berhinger mixer connected to a Crown 300w amplifier which will power the 12″ Berhinger speakers mounted on the wall just above white boards. Affixed to the mounting bracket for monitor is an Apple TV for wireless connectivity.
A few weeks ago I picked up a headphone preamp so we could start an iPad Band jam session. The space also has 5 iMacs around the perimeter of the room (seen here) for teams to use more robust versions of Garage Band and/or iMovie.
The next phase is to incorporate some furniture that encourages collaboration and creates group sectors or pod areas in the room. This would include chairs, tables and desks that are modular and mobile since the space is fairly large and could support a variety of classroom arrangements. I have some ideas from a company called Steelcase that I would love to outfit the room with sometime in the next 12-16 months. And finally, none of this is possible without sharing and the ideas from my colleagues Jamie Pruden and Eric Castro for their contributions in this project.
I still think the flatscreen display should have been mounted on a rolling cart so that it could be moved to different areas in the room as needed. The room also needs a second display – definitely on wheels – for students to use collaboratively.
If the room is still used for dance rehearsals, then full-wall mirror makes sense; if the room is no longer used for dance, then I recommend that the mirror come down and be replaced with a full wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling whiteboard materials. With that, students will be able to sketch out measures, arrangements, or set lists directly on the wall.
All in all, this has been a great transformation of a decent 20th century learning space into something far more contemporary. Great work!