The Modern Classroom: Are They Really Learning at School?

boy-child-childhood-207653.jpgJust like everything else in our world, classrooms have evolved quickly in recent years. Where the chalkboard once stood, there is a smart board or projector. Where there once were textbooks, there are chrome books and iPads. Where there once were rows of individual desks facing the front, there are now clumps of desks, standing desks, clipboards and beanbag chairs. The physical components that have changed are just one aspect of the new classroom environment. The modern classroom is different than it was even 10 years ago. Read on to discover an explanation to some of the ways your child’s classroom may have changed since you were in school.

Inquiry Based Learning

blue-boy-bright-1449934.jpgInquiry Based Learning is a method that puts students’ interests and questions at the centre of the classroom. Teachers work and learn alongside students to create a respectful class climate where answers can be challenged and ideas can blossom. Using the interests of the students for deeper thinking means that students who look like they are playing are actually working their way through the curriculum.

For example, a group of students who enjoy Beyblades may plan a tournament, create a poster to advertise the tournament, create a round robin bracket, record the winners of each round and then graph the results during a single lesson that hits multiple curriculum points in math, science and literacy. Catching a glimpse of this lesson you might assume these children were simply “playing”. However, teachers are working as facilitators to guide the students through inquiry based learning to provide rich context for each concept.

Collaboration, Critical Thinking and the Sound of Learning

While walking through a school today you might hear a lot more chatter than you did while you were a student. This is because of the shift in education from simply absorbing information to becoming inquisitive collaborators. Students and teachers working as co-learners means there is a lot more discussion in the classroom. Collaboration as a focus means that the learning process is narrated aloud and documented as children engage with problems as a team.

Critical thinking is nothing new, but it has never been more important than it is today. With endless amounts of information at students’ fingertips, we are teaching a society to have the skills to be skeptical about the information that is presented to them. This requires questioning, respectful debates and allowing children’s ideas to be heard. All of these methods sound louder than taking a test independently, but ultimately lead to deeper learning.

Flexible Seating


One of the biggest physical changes you may see in your child’s classroom is “flexible seating”. This entails giving students the option to choose a “seat” that is best for their body and mind. Options may include: beanbags, pillows, standing, sitting or lying on the ground, couches, lawn chairs and even standard desks with chairs.

In many rooms, children can move around the space independently depending on the activity at hand, and are not limited by a seating chart. This invites children to listen to their bodies and know themselves well. A chatty student may choose to go and sit in the corner with a clipboard during a time where they want to focus and then move to the couch when their main task is complete. This method of setting up a room allows children to be responsible for their own learning environment and understand the way they learn best. Flexible seating also lends itself well to the collaborative and critical thinking mindset that is so central to current learning, which includes learning about yourself.

As specifics in the classroom continue to shift, it is important to remember that more intense learning for educators and students will always be the focus. The tools to which we have access and the expectations may look different from the outside but at the core learning has not changed. Educators are always searching for more effective and exciting methods of teaching while children continue to learn.


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Meagan Jesmer, OCT
CISS Resource Consultant