I teach in a small rural school and I don’t have a big class budget which I love as it pushes me to be more creative with what I have. Last year I changed the way my classroom operates moving to a flipped collaborative classroom. I love the way my room works now but probably the one thing holding it back was the furniture. I still had furniture designed for students to be sitting down my themselves, facing the front and listening to me teach. What I however needed was collaborative work areas where the students could sit together and collaborate on tasks. Without any budget to purchase new furniture to suit this new style of classroom I had to work out a way to make it myself. So when during the holidays I noticed an old whiteboard in the shed at school I thought it would make a great table. So I found some old desks and screwed it on top of them making a collaborative desk where 4-6 students can sit and write their ideas, draw pictures and just generally be creative.
It is by far my most popular collaborative work space! The next thing we then did was to adapt the bracket for the projector attached to my roof so we can also project onto the table any documents or images we are investigating and we can annotate directly on them. This is far more engaging than projecting up in the whiteboard as the kids can all stand around the table and contribute to the discussion and physically connect to the work.
In my scrounging around the school I also came across sheets of clear plastic which I used to cover all my other tables with so that the students could write directly on the desk they were sitting at. I have found this not only great for the kids to collaborate on but also fantastic for me to be able to show a students how to solve a math problem or look at spelling patterns by writing on their desk.
But most of all I think the students have appreciated the extra effort I have gone too for them, and they recognise that they don’t need the latest and greatest to achieve the result they want.