Creating my Dream Classroom with SketchUp

During this time of year, every teacher starts thinking about their classrooms for the next school year:  how am I going to set up the desks?  What do I want my bulletin boards to look like?  How am I going to organize important papers?  What technology will I have in my classroom?  How will I encourage collaborative learning?

This week in CEP 811, we focused on experience design.  Tedde van Gelderen describes an experience as “something that we encounter everyday” which occurs in an environment (van Gelderen 2009).  He relates these experiences to four specific qualities:  time, flow, participation, and emotion (van Gelderen 2009).  Wikipedia  describes experience design as “the practice of designing products, processes, services, events, and environments with a focus on the quality of the user experience” (Experience Design 2013).   “Experience design is driven by consideration of the moments of engagements” and “the idea’s, emotions, and memories that these moments create” (Experience Design 2013).

After learning and researching experience design, I became extremely inspired and interested in the technology featured in David Kelley:  Human-Centered Design.   IDEO, a world renowned design and innovation firm, designed a customer-centered Prada store.  Customers are able to walk around and pick out the clothes that they are interested in trying on or purchasing.  The employee walks around with a scanner and customers can see different colors, sizes, and even watch the runway models wearing the clothes.  When a customer is ready to try their items on, they go into a room where there are more scanners with the ability to see different colors and sizes.  With the touch of a button, the dressing room becomes transparent to easily show off their new outfits to family and friends and get opinions.  This innovative design, linked customers to the four qualities that Tedde talked about in his video:  time, flow, participation, and emotion.  Customers don’t need to worry about carrying clothes throughout the store because they are scanned by an employee and are waiting for them when it is time to try on.  In addition, this hassle-free and stress-free shopping causes customers to have a good experience and link happy emotions to the Prada store.

After I had observed connections of experience design and commercial stores, it was time to link it to the classroom.  Trung Le describes the experience he had with his daughters’ Kindergarten class in his article Redesigning Education.  Le describes the classroom as supporting “dynamic and teaching and learning” by allowing for “multiple activities and agile enough for a variety of learning modes to happen simultaneously” (Le n.d.).  After Kindergarten, many classrooms become “rigid structures of disconnected subject-based classrooms and curricula” (Le n.d.).   Le believes that the “demand for creativity and innovation cries out for a new model for the learning environment” (Le n.d.) and as a 21st Century teacher, I agree.

During the 2012-2013 school year, I started at my school in March, which meant I didn’t get to choose what was in my classroom or have much time to truly decorate it.  My new classroom was just as Le described all upper education classroom as “requiring students to sit in fixed desks and chairs in neat rows” (Le n.d.).


Photo by Blair Chamberlin

The teacher space was the entire front of the classroom and included a computer desk, desk, filing cabinet, and projector.



Photos by Blair Chamberlin

There were four chalkboards and a table of four computers in the back of the classroom.



Photos by Blair Chamberlin

Since this is my second year of teaching, I have a bit more experience with using my space and the best ways to encourage collaborative learning.  Collaborative (or cooperative) learning is “when small groups of students work together to complete an academic task” (Chinn 2009).  In order for collaborative learning to be successful, students must work together and bounce ideas off one another (Chinn 2009).  In addition, “each individual develops social skills, such as engaging in prosocial behavior, and the ability to work well in groups” (Chinn 2009).  These skills are extremely important in the real world and will prepare students for college as well as their careers.  In my new classroom, collaborative learning can occur with students working at tables instead of individual desks.

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 8.05.20 AM

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 8.06.48 AM

Trung Le suggests a classroom should support “sharing personal experiences with the support of digital media and tools” (Le n.d.) and having “a variety of activities, which are reflective and collaborative happen simultaneously in an open environment” (Le n.d.).  With this in mind, I decided to include an extra four computers, which will allow students to work individually in the classroom as well.

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 8.09.57 AM

I also included two comfy chairs where I can work one-on-one with students or students can have peer discussions.

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 8.11.34 AM

I minimized the teacher’s space, so the entire classroom is student-centered and allows for students to have easy flow from individual work, discussions, and collaborative work.

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 8.12.41 AM

Finally, I upgraded my chalkboards to white boards and added a SMART Board to encourage engagement and hands-on activities.  Also, I have left space for student work and a twitter board.

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 8.14.09 AM

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 8.14.30 AM

Luckily, my dream classroom is not far out of reach!  Since I already have four computers, I would only need to purchase four more, which would be around $1200 if purchased from Dell.  In addition, I would need to purchase two bean bag chairs at $29.98 each from Walmart, for a total of $60.00.  The most expensive purchase would be my SMART board, which could range from $1000 to $5000 from Smart Tech.  Finally, my white board would actually be repurposed panel board purchased from Home Depot for $12.98 each.


Big Joe Bean Bag Chair. (2013).  Retrieved on August 4, 2013 from

Chinn, C., Chinn, L. (2009, December 23). Collaborative Learning [Web Page].  Retrieved on August 4, 2013 from

Experience Design. (2013, July 29).  Retrieved on August 3, 2013 from Wikipedia

Inspiron 660s. (2013).  Retrieved on August 4, 2013 from

Kelly, D. (2007).  David Kelly: Human – Centered Design [Video File].  Retrieved on August 3, 2013 from

Le, T.  (n.d.).  Redesigning Education:  Why Can’t We Be In Kindergarten For Life? [Web Page]. Retrieved on August 3, 2013 from

SMART Boards for Education Interactive Whiteboards. (2013).  Retrieved on August 4, 2013 from

Thrifty White 32 sq ft. Hardboard Panel Board. (2013).  Retrieved on August 4, 2013 from

Van Gelderen, T. [ChangSchool]. (2010, February 9).  Tedde van Gelderen on Experience Design [Video File].  Retrieved on August 3, 2013 from

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: