We know that teachers are overflowing with ideas to make their classrooms more engaging and exciting for students. This spring, we had the chance to work with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on the Student-Centered Learning Environment Innovation Challenge. Educators shared their most inventive ideas for creating active learning environments to help students stay motivated, believe in themselves, and reach learning goals. Fifty-one expert teacher judges rated more than 1,500 submitted projects, and helped surface the most innovative and effective concepts from three incredible educators.
The winning teachers put together some videos to give you a look inside their new classroom, helping educators across the country adapt and replicate their winning ideas in schools across the country. Check out the winning ideas!
Mrs. Quinto wanted her students, many of whom are English Language Learners, to feel ownership over their learning each day. By centering her classroom on project-based learning, Mrs. Quinto empowers her students to explore new ideas in a variety of subjects while creating something they’re excited to do and are proud of.
Picture, in one group, students are creating their frame-by-frame animation of the water cycle model. When they’re ready, they’ll write their scripts, use the microphone and shield requested to record themselves explaining the water cycle! With the same microphone, another group will plan the Podcast, with hosts, guests, and experts that will come and discuss the given topic. They’ll be busy layering voices with music to produce their podcast. At another table, students will use the green screen to place themselves into the water cycle. The light box will offer students the opportunity to create a 3D model of the water cycle, and create a stop motion video, that they’ll have to voice over.
See how Mrs. Quinto turned her classroom into a TV and recording studio, and how it’s helped her students thrive.
Mr. Hennessey is always seeking ways to engage his diverse 8th graders, and finds that hands-on engineering gives students the chance to create structures and solve problems. Not only will his class use these blocks to build engineering structures, but they’ll also use them to construct escape rooms where students use clues to activate their learning.
The engineering challenges available using the blocks are endless, and the student engagement level throughout these challenges is through the roof! The first priority of the blocks is to serve as the essential building material during our Engineering Design unit, where students are presented with engineering design challenges that they solve through collaboration. This year I had students build bridges, construct pyramids, and develop “Lego Houses” all while working their way through the Engineering Design Process.
Tour Mr. Hennessey’s classroom-turned-educational-escape room to see how his students use EverBlocks to solve problems, learn about engineering, and even build their own flexible seating.
For the past year, Mrs. Hooten, her colleagues, and her students have been building a nature center through their gardening club. Mrs. Hooten believes that all students in her school should have access to nature and gardening learning opportunities, and she’s excited to turn the space into a student-centered learning environment.
We would like to turn our nature center into more of a student-centered learning environment so that they can sit while learning and enjoying nature. The seating would add space for children to just read in nature. The bird feeders, feed, and baths would encourage birds to visit as well. The landscaping fabric, staples, and mallets will help with the mulching in this area. These birds will help pollinate the children’s fruit, vegetables, and herbs. Children can learn more about nature while being in nature setting.
Take a look at how Mrs. Hooten is transforming her school’s nature center into an environment where students can read, garden, and spend time in nature.
Congratulations to our three teacher winners!
Have an idea to help your classroom shine? Get started on a project today.