Challenges…lay ahead! Designing a 21st Century Classroom.

Picture by Frankeleon licensed under Creative Commons CC BY 2.0

Picture by Frankeleon licensed under Creative Commons CC BY 2.0

During the past 6 weeks as part of the MAET course I have explored many teaching and learning ideas and how we integrate technology successfully into the classroom. The course has been both challenging and rewarding and it has allowed me to find practical direction for many issues that educators face in the 21st Century. In this final assignment I apply all this newly acquired information to design my ideal classroom.

As a primary school principal in the process of double streaming and embarking on a building program, classroom design is a very pertinent consideration for me. Current educational philosophy sees me moving away from an architect-type notion of, “let us deliver you a great building” to “let us work together to change the way we teach and learn in this place, with the building as one of its foundations” (McIntosh 2010). Being an educational leader and innovator places great responsibility on my shoulders to get the infrastructure right! I want to be in line with current educational philosophy and I want to be faithful to what I know to be important in the education process.

Friedman (2013) discusses Passion Quotient (PQ) and Curiosity Quotient (CQ) and how important they are in an individual’s ability to adapt in a rapidly progressing world. Without them, he argues that technology progresses – the pie gets bigger but we get a smaller slice. I agree with Friedman. If we are to adapt in this rapidly progressing world, “It will require more individual initiative …it will be vital to have more of the ‘right’ education … [and] skills that are complementary to technology”. (Friedman, 2013) I would sum up Friedman’s concept in an algorithm: CQ + PQ = Ability to Adapt. The ability to adapt is greater than IQ.

CQ is the thirst to ‘find out’, the ability to fathom that possibilities are endless. It is the ‘what if?’ factor.
PQ is the passion, the ‘fire in our belly’, giving us courage to follow our convictions.

We need both CQ and PQ if we are to adapt to the demands of the 21st Century, and we need to inspire them in our students. These qualities embolden us to ask questions, push boundaries and embrace technologies. Today’s students are ‘digital natives’ to whom digital technology is second nature. We owe them an education that leads them to becoming technology-rich, innovative, life-long learners. The design of a classroom reflects the technological, pedagogical and content (TPACK) (Mishra & Koehler, 2009) beliefs of the teacher. A classroom (or school) cannot be viewed as a great building, but as a place where our students become great learners.

Taylor (2009) quotes Barron’s idea that, “New ways of teaching demand different spaces. With new technologies comes the need for new and different skills – collaboration, integration of technology … and more project-based learning.” In the SketchUp Program task I developed a classroom that:

  • was open, flexible and adaptable;
  • included a range of areas suitable for collaborative learning, individual learning, small group work and support services;
  • had all possible appropriate existing technologies seamlessly incorporated to maximize their use;
  • was resource rich and environmentally sustainable;
  • provided spaces to allow good learning opportunities;
  • incorporated modern furniture, flexible/changeable for use in a variety of ways; and
  • maintained the capacity in the infrastructure to allow for emerging technologies.

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“Good design and good teaching complement each other” (Thomas, 2013), fostering cooperative and individualistic teaching and learning approaches. I incorporated Campfires (areas providing for whole group instruction and activities), Water holes (areas promoting small group activities) and Caves (areas promoting individual activities). Collectively, these foster independence and intra-dependence within the students. The design and arrangement of the furniture allows the teacher to move easily around the classroom, providing guidance and feedback to the students, both of which rate highly on Hattie’s (2014) Effectiveness Learning Scale. Desks can be used individually or grouped together as required, taller desks/benches were added catering for students who prefer standing. I aimed to create a physical environment that contained technology, furniture, materials and spaces that encourage curiosity, investigation and wonder.

As an administrator I am passionate about the implementation of technology in all classrooms. Like Buckner and Kim (2013) I agree that, “A key limitation to many ICT projects … is the lack of integration between pedagogy and technology. Simply placing technology hardware into classrooms is not a comprehensive solution to bridging the digital divide” (p.3). Mishra and Koehler’s (2009) TPACK Framework needs to be implemented into classrooms, aiming for the ‘sweet spot’, where technology, pedagogy and content combine seamlessly to create an optimal learning situation. In such an environment, learners are in touch with authentic situations to explore, observe, investigate, create and solve problems. Students will begin to take ownership and move towards self-directed learning, ultimately developing responsibility for their own learning. This is the foundation for the growth of CQ and PQ and is the basis for developing life-long learners.



Buckner, E. & Kim, P. (2013). Integrating Technology and Pedagogy for Inquiry Based Learning: The Stanford Mobile Inquiry-based Learning Environment (SMILE). Retrieved from

Connor, D. (2013). Teaching and Technology: Campfires, Caves, and Watering Holes. Retrieved from

Davis, A. W. & Kappler-Hewitt, K. (2013). Australia’s Campfires, Caves and Watering Holes.  Retrieved from

EXPLO. (2014). Thomas Friedman: On Passion and Curiosity for Future Success. Retrieved from

Friedman, T. L. (2013). It’s the P.Q. and C.Q. as Much as the I.Q. Retrieved from

Hattie, J. (2014). 138 Influences Related To Achievement – Hattie effect size list. Retrieved from

Hewes, B. (2010). 21st century learning space; cave; watering hole; campfire; dernsw; classroom; technology; education. Retrieved from

McIntosh, E. (2010). [ #cefpi #tep10 ] Clicks & Bricks: When digital, learning and physical space meet. Retrieved from

Mishra, P. & Koehler. M. J. (2009). Too cool for school? No way! Using the TPACK framework: You can have your hot tools and teach with them, too. Learning & Leading with Technology, 36(7), 14-18 Retrieved from (2014). Classroom Furniture / Educational, School and Library Furniture. Manufacturers & suppliers of Educational/School and Library Furniture in Australia. Sebel Furniture. Retrieved from

Taylor, R. (2009). Learning space turns school design inside out> Swinburne Magazine. Retrieved from

Thomas, K. (2013). A classroom for the 21st century: where are the best places for learning? Retrieved 14 August 2015, from (2015). Retrieved from


Version 4.0: Networked Learning Revision Lesson

Professional Learning Networks Caroline Bucky is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Professional Learning Networks Caroline Bucky is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Due of the high complexity of the nature of role as a primary school principal, I require ongoing professional development in order for me to lead effectively and respond to the challenges intrinsic to school leadership. My Professional Learning Networks amongst fellow principals, colleagues, consultants from the system office, friends, local community and the ‘online’ community is essential and a valuable source of professional learning for me and for all school leaders. In Covarrubias’ (2014) words, “In order to create and lead effective schools, principals need quality professional development, and the best way to do that is through an ongoing professional network” (p.11). This professional network is crucial to me as most of the time principals work in isolation…we are the Lords of our domains!

This networking is important especially for the professional development of staff to ensure that the professional development is accurate and worthwhile for all staff. In looking back at my Lesson Plan Version 3.0, the networks that I would have utilized would have been by contacting peer principals seeking information if they had previously conducted a day on SEQTA dealing with Pastoral Care of students.

By reviewing Lesson Plan Version 3.0, I would seek guidance and advice initially from my Assistant Principal, knowing that he has used this part of the SEQTA program previously and may have some valuable input for the day. I would also discuss with the Assistant Principal any possible pitfalls that may occur during the professional development i.e. ICT literacy levels of staff, staff who may have issues with this idea, relevance for the staff, school and system and any possible digital technology problems on the day. I would then approach the SEQTA consultants who deal with our system seeking any further or extra information that will be required to conduct the day successfully as this is a relatively new program for the school.

By using my professional networks and then leveraging the power of these networks it will help me to develop a clear and concise process for the day. I will use these networks to help me try to avoid any possible problems, issues or concerns that may arise (especially as we will be using digital technologies) within the staff of adding data to the SEQTA Program. I would also incorporate time in the professional day for the staff to use their networks as this is important for them and will aid them with this endeavor. This would be done at the beginning of the professional development day and then at the end of the day, allowing then to collect and revise their thoughts of the day.

Image by Alec Couros, Flickr 2015. Licensed by CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Image by Alec Couros, Flickr 2015. Licensed by CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

During, and also after the professional development day the staff will use their  professional learning networks, firstly by means of talking and discussing different discussion points raised during the day amongst themselves and also with me as facilitator of the day and also by using the previous knowledge of the Assistant Principal. As my school has two distinct areas, Junior Primary and Middle/Upper Primary, I have observed that these two groups of teaching staff will have regularly scheduled informal meetings to discuss curriculum, any issues and concerns within their particular areas. They use this as networking time due to the business of the ‘normal’ teaching day. Were they work alongside of one another, but rarely interact with each other during the school day. Covarrubias (2014) clearly states,

“Teachers spend most of their time working in isolation away from each other in self-contained classrooms with no opportunity to engage in continuous and sustained learning about their practice in the setting in which they actually work” (p.25).

Covarrubias (2014) then likens this to two children playing beside each other in the sand pit, each doing their own thing, but never really interacting during their play.

I actively encourage ‘all’ my staff to develop professional learning networks, although many of the staff already have professional learning networks, especially the more experienced teachers as they regularly comment on the benefits of these networks, although they might necessarily call them Professional Learning Networks. This revision of Lesson Plan 3.0 would support learning as it would require the staff and also myself to take the next step and actively seek out further information individually, in small cluster group meetings or actively seeking further information on line. Trust (2012) remarks that,

“Many teachers are joining online communities of likeminded individuals and subscribing to various blogs and Web sites to continue learning and improve their professional practice…When a teacher joins an online community or subscribes to education blogs, podcasts, and news feeds, the teacher is building a professional learning network (PLN)” (p.34).

Today with the digital resources so readily and easily available, I would encourage all staff, not just the teaching staff to join these online communities to further develop their learning.

Professional learning networks.

My Professional Learning Networks.


Covarubias, M. (2014). Comparative study of the networked principal vs. the isolated principal (Order No. AAI3628142). Available from PsycINFO. (1678753285; 2015-99090-166). Retrieved from

Trust, T. (2012). Professional Learning Networks Designed for Teacher Learning (Reviewed). Australian Educational Computing 27 (1), 34-38.