Pattern 2.0: Adjust School Grade Span Configurations
Reduce school change and mitigate the negative effect this can have on student learning by adjusting the grad span configurations with a return to K-8 or K-12 schools. As neighborhood education centers, attending the same school near one’s home from kindergarten to high school graduation has definite advantages to the child, the family, and the community. Creating a K-8 or K-12 school that fosters small school culture and provides for a secure and welcoming environment while accommodating students ranging in age from 5-18 poses additional design challenges requiring in particular, innovative site planning and spatial organization.
Pattern 2.1: Foster a Small School Culture
Foster a small school culture to promote a positive image of school and its distinctive educational mission. Students need to identify with their school community and feel a sense of belonging, common purpose, and loyalty to the place. Create intimate learning communities where students are well known and encouraged by adults who care for them. This will help to reduce the learning gap disadvantages that plague under served student groups and the isolation felt in large, institutional settings.
Pattern 2.2: Create Small Communities of Learners
Group students in ways that offer them the best opportunity to get a rich learning experience. Identify different learning groups that allow students to come together in learning communities. This may mean gender splitting subject areas, multi-age level groups, looping (allowing students to return to the same teacher), or advisory teams (a core group of students working with an adult mentor for as long as possible) as appropriate to the learning community and activity involved. Students need to identify clearly with their smaller community and feel a sense of belonging, common purpose, and loyalty to the unit. Encourage teachers to work together in a small community and to use their intelligence and experience to help students succeed.
Pattern 2.3: Keep it Humanly Scaled Design appropriately scaled spaces to support the activities and users of individual spaces, noting that learning happens best on a human scale. Students and adults need places that reflect and support human scale, creating a collegial family atmosphere with a scale that is intentful for the purpose of thoughtful interactions. In design, create interest and variety by breaking down large elements and using varied forms and volumes. Avoid elements that treat the learning community as an undifferentiated and anonymous crowd.
Pattern 2.4: Create Visual TransparencySchools should convey the idea that learning is open and inclusive for all, and is to be celebrated. Develop school with a high level of visibility in both formal and informal learning areas. This provides a very stimulating and engaging place for the students to learn and contains numerous opportunities for informal and incidental learning to occur.
Pattern 2.5: Create Clear Wayfinding OpportunitiesWayfinding should be designed into the movement system of the building by providing visual elements to help students and visitors find their way through the school. Design the halls of the school as passages filled with opportunities to see and participate in the varied work of the learning community.
Pattern 2.6: Provide Inside and Outside Views and Connections Design the school to flow naturally into its outdoor spaces. It is necessary to incorporate daylighting,courtyards, patios, and amphitheaters in the facility to take advantage of the exterior learning environment. The curriculum should reflect this alternative outdoor learning space and provide educational activities that reflect this goal. Views to the outside are essential also in preventing eye strain, allowing for a refocusing of mind and body, and providing natural stimuli for a purposeful break from an interior environment, making school a more comfortable setting in which to learn.
Pattern 2.7: Ensure the Highest Reasonable Standards of Safety
School design should embody natural surveillance (the ability to see what’s going on), natural access control (the ability to control entry and exit), and territoriality (the ability of legitimate users to control an area, while discouraging illicit users). Provide visual elements and transparency to aid in wayfinding and develop a stimulating place to learn that contains numerous opportunities for natural surveillance. Provide access control by creating a defined entry that is secure, easily visible, and protected.
Pattern 2.8: Provide a Defined Entry and Gatekeeping Area
Create an entry that is well defined and controlled, while remaining open and welcoming. Keep the entry humanly scaled and easily visible. Design the entry to relate to the unique mission of the school and allow the community to identify its distinctive features.
Pattern 2.9: “Home Suite Home” Cubby Areas and Locker Alcoves
Provide a “home” space for each community of teachers and learners. This home base may be a small alcove with wide and deep lockers or a cubby area with storage space and a project table for younger children. The home base in alternative classrooms where student-directed, project based learning is the model, should be fitted with individual workstations with lockable storage for each student. Create a community of communities, create a hierarchy of spaces and group sizes, and finally, be sure to create opportunity for personalization and group identity.
Pattern 2.10: Design Furniture and Materials for Comfort and AlertnessPhysical comfort correlates positively to the ability to concentrate, student attendance rates, and teacher retention. Consider ergonomics, materials resistant to allergies, soft seating, and placement of furniture, providing a wide range of furniture types allowing for group and individual seating and extroverted and introverted placement.
2.11: Communicate Respect in the Care of the FacilityAttractive, well-designed and well-maintained facilities communicate respect for the people and the activities housed within them. This contributes to a positive school climate, good discipline, and productive learning. When students help keep classrooms and common areas clean and tidy, a strong sense of shared responsibility for their school environment develops.
Pattern 2.12: Provide Designated Spaces to Display Work and Celebrate LearningProvide ample opportunities to build in display spaces that can bring attention to student work of all types (artistic, scientific, literary). Design easy and convenient mechanisms that allow for new work to replace the old. The constant display of student work informally and formally, helps to “raise the bar” for great work as students look at what others do and try to emulate or better it.
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