Creating Flexible Learning Environments

Teacher creates flexible learning spaces that serve multiple learning activities. Pedagogy is foundational in designing learning processes to accommodate collaborative learning environments.
Made by Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Learning at USD
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About this Micro-credential

Key Method

Teacher creates a variety of learning spaces that facilitate a range of authentic activities on a spectrum of collaborative to individual work.

Method Components

Core components

  • Shifts in learning spaces should be based on pedagogy. One shift is to focus on designing the space for regular student collaboration.
  • Design room to allow for small-group work, individual quiet time, and whole-class instruction so that students can use spaces to complete classwork or cool off as needed.
  • Student agency, ownership, and choice in the space are considered in the room design.

Suggested strategy for designing a flexible space

  • Arrange furniture to create many open, spacious activity zones that allow groups of children to work together.
  • Make clipboards and whiteboards available for working without a table or desk.
  • Utilize outdoor learning spaces when appropriate.
  • Evidence student thinking and learning in the space by displaying student work and the process of creating that work.
  • Meet with students and ask them what kinds of spaces they would like in their learning environment.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

  • Clayton, Marlynn K., and Mary Beth Forton. "This Room Was Made for You and Me." Classroom Spaces That Work (Greenfield, MA: Northeast Foundation for Children, 2001), 11–41.
    Teachers face barriers around structure and resources in turning their classrooms into an ideal learning environment. While teachers may not be able to transform an inadequate classroom into an ideal one, they can make dramatic improvements.
  • Hoffman, Jo. "Flexible Grouping Strategies in the Multiage Classroom."Theory into Practice41.1 (2002): 47–52.ξ
    Due to the broad range of abilities, collaborative peer learning environments are necessary. A variety of arrangements for peer learning are utilized in a multiage classroom depending on the task.


Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

To earn this micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1 and 3 and an Exemplary score for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview questions

(300-word limit for each question)

  • Describe the student population that you created the learning environment for, including the following descriptors: grade level, demographics, number of students in each class, content area, and schedule (block, periods, etc.).
  • Describe all the systems and strategies you used to create flexible learning spaces. These might be broken up into three phases:
    • Before: Be sure to include the pedagogy that pushed you to make this space flexible.
    • During: Describe the change you are making to create a more flexible learning environment.
    • After: Map the result of that change and next steps moving forward.

Part 2. Work examples/artifacts

Submit artifacts that were created while creating flexible learning spaces (such as links to writing, audio, images, video, or other products), including such items as:

  • Photos of the activity zones with annotations and descriptions of what each zone is used for
  • A video of the activity zones with written or audio descriptions of what they are used for

Part 3. Reflection

Provide a reflection on what you learned using the following question as guidance (200-word limit):

  • How has creating flexible learning spaces improved classroom management, student achievement, and classroom culture? Moving forward, how might your practice change as a result of what you have learned?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


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