Getting your Feet wet with a Classroom Transformation (video)

Rae HughartBlog, Class Management, Innovation, Lesson Planning, Mastery Learning, Teach Further, Video

Getting Your Feet Wet With A Classroom Transformation (video)

When you’re looking at doing classroom transformations, you have to consider the five senses.

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Full transcript below video.

Video Transcript

Hey guys! It’s Rae and we are talking classroom transformation! Now I do classroom transformations all the time, I would love to even do them more frequently, but when I talk about classroom transformations, especially in the Teach Further Model context, I always find three different types of teachers.

One group of teachers is completely on board with classroom transformations, they are running full force at designing their first one, and that is a teacher that is probably already figured out how to do classroom transformations.

The next category of teachers that I find is teachers that are interested but have no idea how to get started. They find the whole process a little intimidating, they kind of don’t know how to get their feet wet before completely diving in, and so most of the teachers in this category haven’t yet tried out a classroom transformation, but are open to the idea.

The third type of teacher is the teacher that says, “Nah, I’m not interested”. So in this video I want to address how you get started.

That middle category, that group of teachers that understands that there is some great value in the creativity that a classroom transformation can bring, and are also willing to try something new. However, trying something new is hard without a little bit of guidance.

So let’s talk about where that guidance plays in. When you’re looking at doing classroom transformations, you have to consider the five senses. So what are your students hearing, what are they seeing, What are they smelling, what are they tasting, what are they touching.

All those things, and very often when you see classroom transformations from all the experts out there, doing them incredibly, they have completely transformed their classroom to be a different place, and so if you’re looking to get started, the first step is identifying where you want your students to go.

When they walk in their classroom, where are they going to feel like they’re completely immersed. Now, the next part of this is where you need to make some decisions. We do still want to incorporate the five senses, but is there ways to incorporate the five senses without completely changing your classroom and spending hours, maybe by yourself, making it happen.

Now, if you have a teacher out there that’s going to partner with you, obviously makes things easier, but when you look at the five senses, there’s a few key pieces I want to suggest. In terms of tasting, this could be as large as providing the students with food, or it could be as small as giving them a piece of candy, but the whole mentality of tasting is that whatever your setup is, do you want them to kind of taste it in the air.

So for example, I do my road trip unit at the beginning of every single year, and I have a big classroom transformation. What my students do is they get on a bus, and so we actually build a bus, now again, this is an example of a big piece that we did, but something really easy that they can taste is like a jolly rancher or mint, so that gives them something to taste, but it’s also easy and small for me to provide.

The next piece is what they are physically seeing, now this is the big piece of a classroom transformation, what are they seeing. There’s a lot of ways that you can either do something to your classroom, so they see something different, or consider virtual. Some ways I’ve seen this is just by allowing students to, maybe you’ll need transfer half of your room, or maybe you don’t cover the walls or do anything wacky, but you put out new little items for your students to see.

The other thing you could consider is truly a virtual classroom field trip, right, rather than completely transforming your classroom, is there something virtual that they can see to completely immerse them into something new.

The next piece is smelling, smelling is the most underrated sense I’ve seen in any teacher’s classroom. You have to find a scent that actually fits what you’re looking at, so if my students go on a bus trip, I have this gross smelling, I have an outdoor scent, and I mix it with this kind of this road scent, and I really do you have two different scents going because, depending on where you are in the room, it smells a little bit different, if you’re behind the bus you smell a different scent then if you’re in front and getting on. It’s actually something you can incorporate.

Now this can be done through candles or scentsys, being able to defuse something in the air, sometimes spraying something, and I have to be careful of course in a classroom, but finding some way to get that scent, I’ve seen diffusers actually work really well in most classrooms, that’s a great opportunity for students to have this memory, and it saves really well through that scent area. The other thing that you also could consider is, I saw this really recently from a teacher I was working with is scented markers. Provide them maybe a piece of paper that smells like something and how that then can affect your activity.

The next piece is touching, right, you always need to give your students something to physically touch. This can be as small as a blade of grass, depending on what you’re doing, or it can be as big as maybe a necklace they can wear. I give my students maps, they have funny glasses, this is a great opportunity to maybe tap into those drama teachers, that might be in your classroom, or for instance reaching out to a teacher that’s far away, like me, I can send you, we can share resources. So something that they can physically touch and it doesn’t need to be all the students.

So when your students come in depending on what you’re doing, you might act a little funny when you’re doing your classroom transformation and maybe you only have ten items. Now as long as these items are presented to the classroom, maybe you hand them out to random ten students, that allows all the students to be involved, as long as you present it the right way. So if you can’t get 34 of something, is there still an opportunity to hand out something, disperse something, to your students.

Alright we’ve gone through seeing, we’ve gone through smelling, what about hearing. You have to have some sort of music, some sort of background noise to your classroom transformation. This can be as huge as layering YouTube videos with sounds of a evening sky, right, when we do our smores, when we go camping, I have owls and night sounds and all these layers of videos, but you could do something as silly as playing music, when I do my surgery day transformation, I just play the theme song of Law and Order and ER on repeat over and over and over and over, and that’s the easiest sound that really provides that pressure.

So find something whether it be layering YouTube videos on your desktop, or just playing a song that sets the tone for your event, right when I play Law and Order it’s duh, duh, duh, you don’t know what Law and Order is, but it’s a really great and intense sound, when they walk in, they know it’s urgent. It gives them that urgency.

Alright, seeing, tasting, smelling, hearing, and touching. We’ve gone through all five senses, so if you are interested at all in trying a classroom transformation, if you’re a little intimidated by the amount of things that teachers are doing all over, which by the way, awesome for you, go find just a small way to do a classroom transformation.

Whether it be a review that you’re planning, an introduction day that you’re planning, or just a really great celebration in your classroom. Incorporating those five senses to just get your feet wet in the classroom transformation can make a world of a difference. It’s amazing what engagement it brings as well. Good luck.

Header image photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash