Blending Instruction: The One Stop Meeting Space

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 7.45.50 PMWhen I was growing up the kitchen table was where we gathered to eat meals, share a cup of coffee with the neighbors, bake cupcakes, clip coupons, play cards, plan family events, and even redirect my behavior. I was a bit of a stinker!  The point here is the kitchen table was the hub of our home. It was where decisions were made and shared. Not much happened in our family that didn’t pass over the kitchen table.  Despite today’s busy schedules, families still have hubs in their homes. It may no longer be the kitchen table, but I bet each family has a hub.  It’s where families are brought together and shapes their family communities.
When I think of the value of a family meeting space, I think of our classrooms. Classroom communities need a space to gather and bond.  Our class is our school family and together we need a space where we can gather, share, encourage, and take risks as a learning community.  A classroom meeting space allows students to come together for minilessons, share with peers, and learn new strategies.  When students share their learning, they gain an audience which motivates both the learner and the audience.  The reciprocity of sharing is the essence of a learning community.  

Designing Your Classroom Hub

If you’re thinking, “Do I have a classroom hub?” Start with assessing your room.  Look around, do you have items that you must work around?  For example, do you have a projector and screen set to one area?  If the answer here is yes, this is your starting point, and all else revolves around these tools.

In today’s classrooms of blended learning and technology integration, I find the ability to project from a document camera, computer, or an iPad within our classroom gathering space as invaluable as the books, easel paper, and markers beside my easel.  

I want my instruction to model the work the students will be doing. I want to embed technology’s ability to lift and amplify our work for my students.  For this reason, I need to integrate technology tools into my lessons and into our hub.  Capacity to move seamlessly between working on the easel and displaying on the screen needs to flow without interruption.  I don’t want my students to go to another space to see the screen and then to another area to listen to a story or write on the easel.  

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 8.04.28 PMWith the easel at my left (I am right handed), document camera, computer or iPad on my right, and a swivel chair all my tools are at my fingertips! There’s no need to move across the room to see the screen or make an adjustment to my technology.  The students and I have access to everything in one space.   This one-stop meeting space allows the students to maintain focus on the learning and not the tools.  Here are a few tools to consider when designing your classroom hub.

Instructional Tools of the Classroom Hub:

  • Caddy to organize all of the tools
  • Markers (fat and skinny)
  • Crayons
  • Colored Pens
  • Colored pencils
  • Highlighters
  • A variety of sizes of pointers
  • A variety of paper types
  • Dry-erase tools
  • Correction Tape
  • Scissors
  • Sentence Strips
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • A variety of post-it-notes
  • Magnets
  • Basket to hold daily teaching materials

If you have a classroom hub that integrates technology or are thinking of designing an integrated meeting space please share a picture of your space on Twitter. Use the #TWTBlog so we don’t miss your photos!