Learning Spaces at St Mary’s Cathedral College

At the conclusion of 2009 the Executive members of the College were made aware of the shortcomings of our current learning spaces following the deployment of MacBooks to two of our year groups.

The existing furniture was neither practical nor conducive to collaboration and a decision was made to begin replacing the current stock with furniture that was both flexible and practical for the needs of the 21st Century learner.

A visit to Northern Beaches Christian School in Term 4 of 2009 was both inspiring and informative. We took on board a few of their wonderful ideas and purchased large rectangular desks for the Year 7 Homerooms and a number of innovative ‘plectrum-shaped’ desks from the Swedish manufacturer Kinnarps for our new collaborative learning space on Level 5.

It has been interesting to watch the reaction from both students and staff to the changes. The staff are being challenged to look differently at how they interact with their students and create tasks that engage students to bring about higher levels of thinking. To assist in this area a large poster outlining Bloom’s Taxonomy is located at the front of each room. This is complemented by an emphasis on developing higher order thinking in various staff development meetings.

The students are being challenged to work both individually and collaboratively to meet the outcomes of the relevant tasks presented. They are no longer just empty vessels to fill with information. The lower level thinking skills of knowledge and understanding need to be complemented by application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. We need to teach them to be creative thinkers.

It is envisaged that the transformation of our learning spaces will continue throughout 2010 and into 2011. The days of a ‘one size fits all’ model are well and truly behind us so we are looking at many different ways of creating exciting and stimulating environments for our students to learn in. We are at the beginning of a fascinating journey.

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