K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

Important Announcement about Online Courses and LEARN NC.

Important Message about LEARN NC

LEARN NC is evaluating its role in the current online education environment as it relates directly to the mission of UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education (UNC-CH SOE). We plan to look at our ability to facilitate the transmission of the best research coming out of UNC-CH SOE and other campus partners to support classroom teachers across North Carolina. We will begin by evaluating our existing faculty and student involvement with various NC public schools to determine what might be useful to share with you.

Don’t worry! The lesson plans, articles, and textbooks you use and love aren’t going away. They are simply being moved into the new LEARN NC Digital Archive. While we are moving away from a focus on publishing, we know it’s important that educators have access to these kinds of resources. These resources will be preserved on our website for the foreseeable future. That said, we’re directing our resources into our newest efforts, so we won’t be adding to the archive or updating its contents. This means that as the North Carolina Standard Course of Study changes in the future, we won’t be re-aligning resources. Our full-text and tag searches should make it possible for you to find exactly what you need, regardless of standards alignment.

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A Traditional Classroom (see floor plan)

A traditional classroom is often set with the desks in rows, the teacher’s desk or table somewhere in front of the room, and student desks moved far enough apart to prevent easy wandering of eyes during tests. This arrangement packs desks into the room efficiently and lets student have easy access to their seats, but it certainly does not have to be the default room arrangement. The learning environment should be designed according to learning objectives and desired outcomes not just habit or a janitor’s best guess. However, this arrangement is probably the best for controlling behavior, ensuring that there is space for you to walk, preventing cheating on traditional testing days. Here the role of the teacher is a policeman.

Discussions & Debates (see floor plan)

Discussions, debates, and many other interactive classroom activities, where the whole class is looking and listening and contributing, probably work better if the students’ seats are somehow facing each other. Some teachers find this arrangement of two sides with an isle down the middle (like Congress) works well. Put the teacher’s desk in the back of the room to get it out of the way. It’s still within easy access to grab a stack of handouts, etc. The role of the teacher here is kind of like Speaker of the House.

Variation: Horseshoe (see floor plan)

A variation on the bicameral (two sides) arrangement is the Horseshoe. Remember, though, every arrangement should be made based on what you want the lesson to accomplish. Both the bicameral and horseshoe arrangements work well for handing out stuff. The role of the teacher seems to be coordinator and collaborator in these classrooms.

Centers (see floor plan)

If students need to work with more materials than fit on their desks, or with shared materials, centers are a good option. You can set up the various centers around the periphery of the room while allowing space for students to get back to their desks if necessary. In this model, the students should be able to complete the center activities mostly on their own while the teacher circulates to trouble-shoot and observe. (Adapted from Getting Started: A Guide for Beginning College Instructors, University Division, Indiana University.)