“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” – Bill Gates

CEP 811: Classroom Revamp Through Experience Design

on July 29, 2014

Creating an ideal classroom environment is something most teachers strive to do. While many may believe that redesigning a classroom requires an exorbitant amount of money, this simply isn’t the case. A 21st century classroom is all about creating an open space where students feel comfortable and are given opportunities to explore. In Chapter 2 of the book “The Third Teacher”, the authors stress the necessity to redesign classrooms for a new age (2010, p. 58). As Jean Piaget explained, “The principal goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done” (2010, p. 57).

My old 5th grade classroom layout was designed for a different era: there was a definite “front” of the room, students sat at their desks, and there was very little room to move around. After watching David Kelley’s TEDTalk, I realized how important it is to design with the human experience in mind. So, taking the needs of the students into consideration, here is my revamped classroom:

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 3.44.53 PM

The new features include:

Literacy Center – This area is located in the corner of the room, with a rug, throw pillows, and beanbags. According to TheThirdTeacher (2010), “Children are ready to learn only when they’re safe and secure, so address those needs before considering any other aspect of a child’s environment”, so I made the literacy corner a comfortable place to relax and learn.

Tables – Students sit in groups of 4 at round tables to encourage discussion and collaboration. Students naturally want to interact with one another, so this new seating formation allows students to learn in they way they wish to learn.

Windows – Plenty of natural light! TheThirdTeacher says, “Increasing daylight in classrooms has been shown to cut down on absenteeism and improve test scores.” I also chose pink for the walls – a warm, nurturing color.

Tech Center – Students can stand and work at this “genius bar” counter space, inspired by Edutopia’s “Remake Your Class” video.

Share Wall – Students will have a space to showcase their thinking and explorations to track progress; the space will be a mini-museum of their work.

Exploration/Maker Lab – A hands-on area to explore, fail, and redesign. Squishy Circuits are a large component of this station (shown below):

 Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 5.04.56 PM

Group Carpet – An cozy area to gather as a group to share out. A SmartBoard is also located here to display lessons digitally.

Space – The classroom is designed to allow students to move freely, to cater to their interests/intelligences, and to serve as their own community. In the article “Redesigning Education: Why Can’t We Be in Kindergarten for Life?” LaBarre expresses her belief that all classrooms should be designed like a kindergarten classroom: as learner-centered spaces, allowing students to explore several different ways of learning.

In order to carry out this design, I would only need to acquire the follow resources:

  • pillows
  • beanbag chairs
  • round tables
  • paint
  • bulletin board

The pillows, beanbags, and bulletin board could easily be found at a secondhand shop, or I could take donations. I would also need to have both my principal to approve of the paint job, as well as the custodial staff to assist with painting and to help remove desks and replace with round tables. To fully implement this vision, I would provide my principal and the custodians with the research that supports my plan. I think that the plan could be pulled off in about a week, given that I already possess many of the needed resources.

Overall, I believe that my revamped classroom design creates a nurturing, comfortable environment that is conducive to student-centered learning and exploration.


David Kelley: Human-centered design | Video on (n.d.) TED: Ideas worth spreading. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from

Edutopia. (2013, March 14). Remake your class. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from

LaBarre, Suzanne (2010, May 14). Redesigning education: Why can’t we be in kindergarten for life? Retrieved July 28, 2014 from

OWP/P Architects, VS Furniture, & Bruce Mau Design. (2010, April 1). The third teacher. Harry N. Abrams; First Edition.

The Third Teacher (n.d.) TTT Ideas Flash Cards. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from


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