The Students Have Spoken

By Ilana Zadok, Middle School History Teacher

During their last week of classes before summer break , middle school students learning in the CoLab were asked to reflect on their experiences learning in this new space by responding to the following question:

How did learning in the CoLab add value to your learning and educational experience this year?

After polling 54 students in grades 6, 7 and 8, their responses showed that:

31 students identified that their learning had been completely enhanced by the CoLab

16 students were able to identify ways in which the Colab enhanced their learning, but also identify ways that learning in the room needed improvement.

7 students identified that the CoLab did not add any value to their educational experience.

Below are a sample of the student reflections highlighting both the successes as well as some the challenges the students faced learning in the space as identified by the students.

A Sample of the Student Reflections:

“The room is bright so it makes everything clearer.”

“The idea wall in the CoLab added value and educational experience by making me feel like I can openly express my thoughts.”

“It was good having the CoLab because it was very mobile and increased our learning abilities. Also, it caused increased citizenship.”

“Rolling tables let me sit in different places according to what the task is.”

“It helped a lot. I could move around, sit on the floor, sit on a bean bag chair…It’s the way I want to learn!”

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“Towards the beginning of the year I wasn’t very comfortable with the CoLab because of how different it was from a normal classroom. I struggled to get into my own personal space and find what part of the CoLab I was most comfortable with. But as I pushed myself to take in the good instead of focussing on what I didn’t like, I realized how much more I liked the environment of the room. I was able to create my own little space when I needed to work alone or a space for a small group I was collaborating with. All in all, the CoLab was a room that allowed me to find different things I like and I can collaborate with.”

“The CoLab is a completely different environment that gives me the opportunity to get comfortable and concentrate on my learning in my own space and in my own way. This year the CoLab enhanced my learning because I wasn’t stuck in a desk near people who I get easily distracted with, rather in my own corner where I’m comfortable and able to do my work quietly. I LOVED the CoLab!!”

“It made my writing more productive by pre-writing on the walls. This allows me to see my ideas in detail and see how they go together.”

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“The CoLab helped me learn because I was able to see what other people thought and was able to share my thoughts. I was able to cooperate with everyone.”

“The CoLab added value to my learning and education this year because the classroom feels bigger and we have more space to learn.”

“The CoLab helped A LOT! Because of the idea wall, I was able to show my notes for group work more easily with my peers. Also, this way it was easier to understand. The moving boards helped me seclude myself in a place to work better and not be distracted. The LED lights helped because they didn’t stress my eyes out. Overall, the room was much calmer than a regular classroom. On the other hand, the movable chairs and desks were not my favorite feature because I like remaining still to learn.”

“Everything in this room makes learning easier, more fun and more interactive.”

“(The CoLab) helped me learn easily because when I have an idea, I could write it on the whiteboard/idea wall and I remembered it easily.  When my iPad was dead I could just plug it in the outlets in the tables and continue working.”

“Learning in the CoLab improved my learning by allowing me to concentrate and collaborate. When working by myself, I could move to a quiet area of the room. But when working with others, I could easily move my chair to be closer to them.”

“The CoLab added value to my learning in that it let me concentrate more and let the teacher teach me in a more comfortable way.”

“It was fun and engaging to be able to set up one’s own learning space. I, as a student, would also appreciate it if on some days, individual organization of small spaces scattered throughout the classroom for each student would be balanced with a set structure that students see as they walk into class, such as tables organized in groups around the classroom or one big square of tables. Seeing a structure, students will immediately assume and expect that there is a purpose for it, which also serves to engage them in the upcoming lesson.”

“In the beginning of the year I didn’t think it would help and didn’t care. But now I get it and I love it! This room helps me because I get to create my own space to work unlike other rooms that I sit in and want to leave.”

“Learning in the CoLab was helpful and not helpful because if I needed to move somewhere, it was easy because of the wheels, but hard because sometimes it is hard to concentrate when someone is wheeling around.”

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“It allowed me to move from place to place and write wherever I needed to. The class could rearrange the room any way to improve the learning being done.”

“The movable furniture helped learning because if something was bothering me, I could just move someplace else quickly and refocus myself. That is why the CoLab is a great working environment.”

“We didn’t make noise when moving around because the chairs had wheels.”

“I loved the relaxing feeling of the room.”

“We could change the room to fit the story. Having the whiteboards to use makes everything interactive.”

“The environment made me wake up and learn something new. The room is modern and comfortable. The idea wall has been amazing to me because I could let out my thoughts about what we learned or what I think about on my own. I had a great time in the CoLab–especially, educationally!”

“I loved the CoLab! It made it so easy to move around and set up quickly. The whiteboards made it fun and easy to express our ideas. It helps us with our learning.”

“In the CoLab I feel like I can do anything and I have a lot of inspiration.”

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“I valued my learning experience in the CoLab because I was allowed to write out my thoughts and move where I work best. But, I got a bit distracted because of the moving chairs and tables which, at times, diverted my attention from the required assignment.”

“I love writing on the whiteboards because it makes me want to learn.  Overall, the CoLab is a great learning environment and I am glad that this year I had the privilege to learn in both of them.”

“The CoLab lets one socialize more and get to know people better as well as move around more.”

“The idea walls and boards…are good for demonstration, explanation and organization for large groups.”

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