Excursion23 Creating a Learning Environment

  1. Physical Space

In my classroom I try to make the space as inviting and open to learning as I possibly can. Although my classroom is not very large I am able to use the space to my advantage by clustering the desks and creating walking aisles so I am able to easily circulate and use the room while teaching. My desk clusters are in groups of four and I have eight clusters. The groups of four are really conducive to my classroom because students can jump in and out of group activities very smoothly. Also, I make sure that no desk has the student sitting with their back to the front of the room. Each desk is either facing to the front of is perpendicular to the front of the room so no student has to feel uncomfortable while paying attention to the lesson. Clusters of four also are helpful with not only group work but pairs as well.


In my classroom there is a white board and a Smart board in the front of the room, while my desk and materials are in the back of the room. Although I never sit in my desk during class, it gives me a place to stay organized with the lesson materials and resources there without being a distraction to the students. My classroom also has four windows which are great so the temperature in the room can be controlled a bit because a physical space for learning needs to be comfortable in order for students to give me and their curriculum their undivided attention.

  1. Student Autonomy

My students have a moderate amount of autonomy in the classroom. Students are allowed to pick their seats to sit in on most days. The days where they do not have the choice of seating is when I practice purposeful grouping when conducting a lesson, usually forming heterogeneous groups in order to adhere to my student’s individual strengths and weaknesses. In terms of autonomy over their own learning they have almost full rule. Students in my class know that they are to work at their own pace which means I over prepare for the students that finish activities quicker and I have modifications for students that work slower, such as extended time.


In terms of the Hexagon of cooperative freedom, again students have moderate freedom in my class. I try to make clear that students are self-sufficient in my classroom but they always have me for support. Students have the power of time because although they cannot change when the class is, they can choose how to use the time in the classroom. Usually if student’s do not finish an activity I will allow them to do it for homework or have time the next class to complete it. Students have the freedom to use the space of the classroom by choosing their own seat and seatmates. I conduct pre-assessments before each content unit and students have the freedom of letting me know if there is a specific topic they want to dive into deeper so I can create the lesson plans accordingly. I use multi-modal instruction and mediums such as the mobile laptop cart and the student’s cellular devices or pen and paper. All students have access to the work and always have the option of completing work on a device or on hard copy.

  1. Cooperative student learning

As I mention before, students sit in clusters of four. In almost every lesson I have a piece where they work individually, in pairs and in their groups of four. Typically for the Do-Now exercises the students work in pairs and then we come together as a whole class. In the middle of the lesson, students will break out into their groups to discuss. And usually at the end completing their exit tickets students will work alone. The strategies I’ve conducted in the last two weeks in my classroom were jigsaw when learning about Imperialism in Southeast Asia, The United States and Muslim Lands. Also students completed a station lesson which took two days and groups moved from one station to the next in order to learn about the imperialism of Africa and completed a corresponding notes packet.


    • Gerald Ardito
      Gerald Ardito


      You did a really good job with this post. I appreciate how thorough and thoughtful you are here. You also did a really good job connecting your response to some of the readings.

      This really stuck out for me:

      My students have a moderate amount of autonomy in the classroom.

      I am wondering what are the rules governing the moderation of student autonomy in your classroom? What characteristics or norms do you take into account in doing so? I look forward to your response.

      • Hannah Treuer
        Hannah Treuer

        When I say "moderate autonomy" I mean that students constantly are provided with choice. For example when taking notes students can choose to write in notebooks, type on computer or ask for print outs of the powerpoints to take notes on. But it is not a free for all, meaning they need to choose with the options I provide for them. This is a very simple example of this but essentially my students know coming in that they will be making choices that are going to be the best fit for them and need to be accountable for the choices they make in the classroom every day. As long as you are always choosing what is in your best interest to learn than the students will continue to have those freedoms. The standard that is made clear though in the beginning is that choice is a privilege, not a right. 

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