Columbine Elementary is similar to the majority of schools in Denver, Colorado. While it’s 1940s building still provides a basic shelter for schooling, the environment reinforces a single and outdated model of education. Rows of desks face a front of the class where the expert teacher disseminates information. The Imaginarium, Denver Public Schools’s resident innovation lab, is rethinking this learning model.
The Imaginarium offered us a thrilling challenge: Transform a 70-year old classroom into an exemplary space for personalized learning, that allows educators to experiment with innovative teaching, and do it without making any structural changes to the building.
The resulting design is a rich amalgam of ideas from educators, school and district leaders, students, and designers. This “new” classroom is known as the Dialogue District – a space specially designed for key moments in project based learning including brainstorming and collaboration, sharing and presenting. Columbine’s new classroom environment includes:
- Up to 10 unique learning spaces, each supporting different learning and teaching styles
- Ability to reconfigure space for fluid group sizes, from individual work up to group of 30 kids
- Multimedia panels for interactive collaboration and engagement
- Installations that inspire kids and encourage outside-the-box thinking
- Locally fabricated furniture and learning tools
- Video camera for recording class sessions
Makisha Boothe, Senior Director of the Imaginarium says “These classrooms intentionally skirt the design of the traditional classroom in order to increase learning options for students. It fosters students building 21st century skills like collaboration and innovation.”
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