Design Project: Mission Accomplished

After the fifth grade students designed their learning space, it was time to analyze all of their blueprints and make a final decision for the arrangement of the room.  Using a Google form to create an online survey, the students came to a consensus on the type of learning centers they wanted as well as their location in the room.

Reading center

  • natural light
  • saucer chairs (spider chairs create too much movement)
  • bookcase positioned to serve as a dividing wall for creating separate space from the adjacent game center
  • conversation table for discussion
  • headlines and language of thinking for visual learners
Crusader Cave:

Wild ideas are okay. This prompted a “man cave” in the classroom where the students desired to have their own space to play. One student suggested that they call it their Crusader Cave and everyone immediately loved it.  A design team, lead by Ms. Parker, used Photoshop to design a banner that they could proudly display in their “fun zone.”

  • game table for chess and other activities
  • spider chairs  for movement with bouncing motion
  • ottomans with lids to store games
  • refrigerator for drinks and snacks 


Project Center:

Making thinking visible allows the students to build understanding of what they are learning as their thoughts are displayed around the room.  The students decided to create a project/design center with space to exhibit their end products.

  • long rectangle table for standing around when creating or designing
  • an unmounted bulletin board for displaying thinking 
  • storage bins for organizing supplies needed for creating or designing 
  • Peel the Fruit thinking routine 
  • white board for making thinking visible


Writing Center:  

The students realized that improving on communication skills is a huge goal for the class, and they decided to make room for a writing center for small group learning.

  • round table for better flow of discussion
  • ladder of feedback and brainstorming thinking routine 
  • comfortable rolling chairs 
  • location next to the reading center so there are fewer distractions


The final results:

The fifth grade boys thoughtfully designed their learning space and without even realizing, they were were engaged in a wide variety of mental challenges. They demonstrated the ability to brainstorm, work together as a team, problem-solve, formulate deep questions, develop empathy, and make decisions accordingly.  The students took on a challenge but had so much fun in the process; they came up with great ideas that had never occurred to me before. I am certain that the space they designed has created a sense of ownership in all of them that will make learning even more meaningful than if I had the room ready for them on the first day.

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Kim Pruitt

Post author: Kim Pruitt

I am currently a 5th grade ELA teacher at Presbyterian Day School implementing technology for a blended learning environment. I received an Elementary Education Degree at Mississippi College and my Masters in Instructional Design and Technology at the University of Memphis. I have attended Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero and I use thinking routines through digital writing, collaboration, and reflection to develop deeper cognitive learning.

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