Types of spaces

Unfortunately the majority of instructional spaces in high schools today consist of lines of classrooms on long corridors with rows of desks facing forward to receive wisdom from a sage on the stage. While certainly not an exhaustive list, educators may want to consider the following questions when determining the types of spaces and furnishings necessary to support their instructional designs:

  • Are there places for a variety of groupings to come together in collaborative work (e.g., conference tables, seminar rooms, breakout spaces, large gathering spaces)?
  • Are there places for inquiry and project-based learning (e.g., accessible science labs, work benches, art rooms, technology and media centers, access to the outdoors)?
  • Are there rich, stimulating environments that reflect students’ passions (e.g., visible student work, active and “live” spaces, and decorations that reflect cultural heritage and diversity)?
  • Are there places for lively learning (e.g., “war rooms” where projects can be left out in progress and group ideas can be shared in collaborative work)?
  • Are there display spaces for student work (e.g., “tackable” wall surfaces, whiteboards, projection screens and/or gallery space for three-dimensional objects, places for student exhibitions)?
  • Are there passive places for student reflection and quiet work (e.g., comfortable places to read, be thoughtful, have a quiet conversation, or study)?
  • Are there individual student workstations (e.g., places students regularly work and/or decorate as their own)?
  • Are there comfortable furnishings that encourage collaboration (e.g., round tables, couches, conversation nooks, intergenerational spaces, adults located near students and students located near adults)?
  • Is flexibility built in to encourage adaptive use of the space (e.g., tables, storage units and furnishings on castors to be moved and reconfigured easily, and/or are there operable and/or movable walls)?