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  • Writer's pictureZoe Branigan-Pipe

From Classroom to Cafe Bar - A Makerspace, Reggio-Inspired Learning Space




In every city or community around the world, the cafe/coffee shop is the place for gathering with friends or colleagues, catching up on daily reading, playing games, engaging in the art and music culture, knitting, writing, planning, creating, organizing, designing and learning - and of course, sharing in food/drink.  Drawing from hundreds of examples of cafe community gathering is hubs across our own city, Hamilton (A coffee shop for every mood) or Toronto (Top 10 Places to work or study in Toronto), or New York City (The Best Coffee Shops for getting work done), we created a classroom space with similar characteristics.



The coffee shop as an office - Coffee shops are the unofficial offices of an army of modern workers thanks to free wi-fi, good company and caffeine on tap. But, says David Crookes, cafes have been places of business for centuries (Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/thirsty-work-the-coffee-shop-as-office-2290725.html)

At a Public School?  


Can you imagine a learning space where nature, music, art and literature are infused in the design of the STE-A-M focused room? A space that celebrates community through nutritious food prepared each day by students who gather at a cafe bar or surround a kitchen table and are prompted by deep discussions of innovation and creativity? A space for people of all ages? A place where tea is served at the start and end of each day in beautiful porcelain cups - where there are no bells or specific transitions and subjects are infused through Big Ideas or Themes?

In 2016, The HWDSB Enrichment and Innovation Centre was awarded the Canadian Education Association (CEA) Ken Spencer Award (First Place) for Innovation and Creativity in Teaching and Learning.  This accolade prompted the creation of a second Enrichment Centre that was designed using the Reggio Emilia Approach and would recognize that the learning environment is fundamentally important to the program (referred to as the child's "third teacher")

“In order to act as an educator for the child, the environment has to be flexible: it must undergo frequent modification by the children and the teachers in order to remain up-to-date and responsive to their needs to be protagonists in constructing their knowledge.” (Lella Gandini,1998)The importance of the environment lies in the belief that children can best create meaning and make sense of their world through environments which support "complex, varied, sustained, and changing relationships between people, the world of experience, ideas and the many ways of expressing ideas." (Cadwell, 1997). "Bringing Reggio Emilia home:An innovative approach to early childhood education.".

 The room design is  also inspired by Seymour Papert's  Constructionism learning theory,


 

The HWDSB Gifted Program partnered with a team of Undergraduate Students from McMaster University in a Design Thinking Project with the goal of creating a learning space inspired by both Reggio and Papert.

“Design is the action of bringing something new and desired into existence—a proactive stance that resolves or dissolves problematic situations by design. It is a compound of routine, adaptive and design expertise brought to bear on complex dynamic situations.”—Harold Nelson, The Design Way
Thank you to Lee Wood Company, James Street North for the donation of the beautiful, custom, hand-crafted bar top.

The "Bar" area replaces the teacher's desk. There is enough seating for 15 students to surround the bar. The teacher or student can be in front or behind the bar area to facilitate discussion.



There is a large collection of plants, herbs and sprouts in the classroom.









Growing plants in the classroom connects students to nature, to outdoors, to the world around them. Plants clean the air, teach students about sustainability and allow students to observe and document natural patterns.



American Society for Horticultural Science. (2009, September 6). Greening University Classrooms: Adding Plants Increases Student Satisfaction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 3, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090903163947.htm


Reggio teachers provide children different avenues for thinking, revising, constructing, negotiating, developing and symbolically expressing their thoughts and feelings. The goal is for the adults and children to better understand one another "North American Reggio Emilia Alliance". Retrieved 9 April 2013.

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