When Form Matching Function: Redesigning Our Learning Spaces

During the introduction for the Shark Tank pitch that was about to happen as part of our Summer Creative Problem Solving Academy, an incoming 6th grader (whose team was pitching a full redesign for an ELA classroom), began with the following meme:

For everyone in the room–our Superintendent, Directors, Principals, and other students–it was a pretty powerful introduction…and one that helped fuel our fire to continue to work not only on redesigning our larger building common spaces, but some of our classrooms as well.   

What Have We Already Done?

For a full narrative on the processes and steps involved in our redesigns, an overview of our project based learning program for students related to the redesigns, and a  gallery of pictures of the different areas, be sure to check out:

What Are Our Next Steps?

With a number of classroom spaces (like the ones above), as well as our Elementary and Middle School Creativity & Innovation Spaces and redesigned Middle School Library & Reading Room up and running and packed with students, teachers, and administrators…our next phase is our HS Library.

In a nutshell, though, the vision and mission of all of our redesigns were focused on three main goals:

  • Design a space that is student-centered
  • Design a space that fosters collaboration
  • Design a space that encourages creativity and innovation

Looking at some of the major overhauls we have been able to accomplish in a short amount of time, we are extremely excited to be starting the work on the GVHS Library.  Our new librarian, Melissa Josef, has jumped in feet first and has been working with groups within the school like her Library Club, our GVHS Art department’s Mural Club, and with our GVHS Tech Ed department to to rethink and reimagine what types of spaces our students and staff will want, need, and use.


Top 5 Considerations

It has been no easy task.  When I asked Melissa what her ‘top 5’ have been for getting ready, here response was:

  1. Clean out old closets and storage areas to get rid of unused and wasted space
  2. Complete a collection assessment, reorganization, and weeding plan
  3. Continue to cultivate a network of potential volunteers
  4. Look to find “homes” for things that we have been getting rid of and working with maintenance to get the rest removed
  5. Researching ideas, alternatives, and options for the Space


The Areas

The areas we are looking to create in the redesign are:

  • Technology Playground– this will be a space for new and emerging technologies (ie- VR, 360 Video Conferencing, Gaming Systems, etc.).  The plans is to outfit this with a tv/video wall, couches, and different configurations of high and low top tables and chairs.
  • Reading Lounge this space will house our high interest fiction and nonfiction, be easily browsable, have rotating displays and comfortable places to read and discuss books.
  • Study Area this space will be housed behind a glass wall in the back of the library (we have to remove a majority of our stacks and reallocate our resources) and will contain a quiet space for study with tables and cubes for privacy.
  • Maker Space- this an area of the library for students to tinker, build, and connect research to learning to making. Part of this area will also house our new Student Technology Help Desk.
  • Idea Room– this is currently the librarian’s office (that is being moved as we are adding windows to a large storage space that she is turning into her new office…pics below) that has windows looking out into the library.  The goal is a closed space for groups of teachers and students to go to to brainstorm and kick around ideas.  The goal is to have every surface we can writable, and we are looking at setting up a green screen area and possible a sound recording studio in a segment of the room.
  • Collaborative Class Space– this will be about 1/2 or so of our enormous, open main library space.   This will contain the collaborative tables with the flat screen televisions and mobile device hook ups (see the MS Space above for a sample).
  • Movable Classroom– this will be the other 1/2 of the open main library space. This will contain tables and chairs that are on wheels and can be rearranged and reorganized into a number of different configurations.


With the help of our building administration, various departments, teachers and groups of students, and especially our Director of Operations Bruce Craig, we have already begun to work on the spaces. A gallery of the beginnings of this project is below:

Stay Tuned for Our Progress!!

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