Well, Happy New School Year!  We thought we better update the story of The Big Move at City Neighbors Charter School.  Lets start with the teacher who decided to try getting rid of all her traditional desks and chairs and create what she likes to call, “Giovanni’s Cafe” for teaching Language Arts in middle school.  If you recall back in #1 of this series we introduced the ideas of Ms. Sajida Davis:

First, Ms. Davis talked about her teaching.  She would need space for the classroom library, small meeting spaces, and a spot for her desk (could it be near a window?). Next she imagined a big whiteboard – a whole wall – from floor to ceiling so groups of students could be coming up with ideas together at the same time. She mentioned quiet spaces (and we looked out in the hallway and decided it was great and she would feel comfortable sending kids out there too). And when we began to talk about her tables and chairs that were being moved up here she said, “What I really wish is that I didn’t have to have tables and chairs.” Cool! What would you have? “You know, I want my classroom to be like a big coffee shop, with couches and comfy chairs, coffee tables, and some kind of stage area.”

 After a long summer of first relocating the library, then insulating the attic, then searching for and finding used furniture from hotel liquidators in the area, we spent $900 to create an entirely new classroom.  Here are some of the pictures from her space on the first day of school (some with students!):

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And now the most important question must be posed.  Will the physical environment impact the practice of the teacher?  How about the work of the students?  What does this new space create that works?  How about what doesn’t work?  These questions and more will be considered as we continue to check in with Ms. Davis this year in her new space.

Well, we made it.  Today is day 3 of a new school year.  More pictures and thoughts on the physical environment coming soon.

Just a few more pictures of the new space in use with our students:

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