Hillary Tidd

Contextual Learning: Room Scaling and Design

Say it's the end of the school year and you as a teacher want to give your students an opportunity to leave their mark on your classroom. One way for them to do this is to design how to arrange all the furniture in the classroom the way they think it should be. Instead of allowing them to just start moving furniture around, you tell them that you want to turn it into a math lesson, but not just any math lesson; this will be a mathematics concept that they will be able to use for the rest of their lives. The object of this assignment is for students to use their math knowledge on scaling and apply it to actual classroom designing. If students are particular about their scaled measurements, then the classroom should fit together nicely and accessibly.

Where do we start?

First the students will use a tape measure to get the dimensions of the classroom itself and every piece of furniture within the classroom including students desks, teacher desk, book cases, chairs, and any other random furniture pieces. The students will then take a piece of graph paper to create a scaled-down drawing of the classroom as is.

For example, say the classroom is 20ft x 20ft. The students would take their graph paper and mark four squares together as 1ft x 1ft in actual size but the scale would be 1in x 1in. Therefore the scale factor would be 12 to 1, because there are 12 inches in one foot.

Below is a partial example of what the classroom would look like on the graph paper...

Now what?

Once students have drawn out a rough sketch of the classroom on graph paper, they will then get on Geometer's Sketch Pad to create an electronic version of their classroom design (much like the previous picture) paying particular attention to their scaled measurements. If they have done so, each piece of furniture should fit according to their drawing. Once every student has completed their GSP design, the class could have a vote to see which design is the most accessiable and unique. The design with the most votes will be the classroom design for the following school year!