I’ve reached that point in the design process where I get to experiment with everything I have been thinking about and planning. It’s when I get my hands dirty and start to get a real insight into what will work, what won’t, students’ thoughts and opinions and develop my own ideas of how successful I have been. I have found the prototyping process very engaging, stimulating and somewhat cathartic (they say ‘a change is as good as a holiday’). I have been able to quickly test out all of my ideas, analyse them and improve them in a short amount of time (Dam & Siang, 2018).
My prototype began as a visual conceptual prototype and moved on to a functional prototype (Laureate International Universities, n.d.). I tested my three ideas out over a week long period with different classes utilising the space. I took notes after each iteration and asked for feedback from both my team teaching partner and the students using the space. Involving my students and teaching partner has helped to create better ideas and a stronger final product (Riddle, 2016).
When I began prototyping my ideas, I really wanted to test out the experiences my students and my teaching partner were having. I wanted to see work in action to know if an idea would be successful (d.school Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, 2016). The following sums up my thoughts for each idea:
My first thought when I actioned this idea was that the noise level iin the room would increase. Previously, the furniture in my room was quite evenly spaced which meant the noise was evenly distributed. I was pleasantly surprised when the noise level remained much the same. I had also initially planned to use the office space/ storage room for a quiet work zone but after consultation with my teaching partner, it was deemed that this area would not be a suitable learning zone.
One unintentional outcome of this design was that the teacher’s chairs were set up differently and it forced us to stand up during whole class instruction. This was a positive because we both became a bit more animated and the students were more engaged. We also found that it became a better sharing space at the end of the lesson for students.
I had mixed feelings about this idea when it was put into action. There were things that worked well but an equal amount of things that didn’t. The ‘whole class learning’ zone was good and having the Lego/ Construction zone seemed to work well too. The cupboards around the Lego tables also created a ‘quiet’ zone behind it which was unintentional.
What didn’t work though was that the cupboards around the Lego/ Construction zone blocked the teachers view of part of the classroom and made it feel smaller. Additionally, the couches moved to a ‘Conversation’ zone meant that we couldn’t use them as part of our behaviour management as we had done all year (when entering the room, the students that followed the expectations would be rewarded with a seat on the couches – this has been a great way to positively reinforce behaviour with our young students).
Idea 3 is my least favourite. The position of the TV and whole class focus area faces the wrong way and partitions the room in a way that makes the room seem smaller. The whiteboard is also in a position where it looks untidy (We didn’t want to look at the back of it). We also found that the joins in the floor (our room is a modular portable) cause tables to sit on an angle if placed over the join. Not only is that unpleasant to see and work on but it can be a hazard for chairs. We had to be mindful of this when placing furniture.