Transforming outdated classrooms, hallways and underused spaces allowed us to create highly utilized next generation learning spaces that are flexible and can shift to accommodate a range of student needs.
As a part of Albemarle County Public Schools’ commitment to serve the needs of 21st century learners, Albemarle High School has begun a process of modernizing existing spaces into next generation learning environments that meet 21st century design imperatives of: transparency, sustainability, flexibility, mobility/interactivity, passion-based learning, comfort & choice and inside/outside connections
Project-Based Learning Spaces
The first phase included spaces for a pilot program in project-based learning called Team 19 for ninth graders who previously struggled in traditional classroom settings. The program is focused on a variety of project-based learning and instructional group modes. The new design repurposed a cramped corridor of small rooms and combined them into several larger spaces to accommodate the teams. Break-out space is separated by an overhead door to allow for a larger space or two smaller spaces as needed. Important features include: natural light and views; writable walls and surfaces (casework, glass, etc.); overhead electrical connections; agile furniture that allows for variety and student choice and movement; and interactive technology and monitors.
Reimagined science labs
The second phase included applying these principals to redesign of spaces for science. AHS is reimagining how science curriculum is delivered, embracing co-teaching and cross-curricular science (biology + chemistry + environmental, etc.). Traditional classroom/lab combinations were renovated to create large, open lab areas where multiple classes and subjects can learn together in a variety of work level intensities. Medium intensity labs include: science lab casework and tables; central area for less intense projects and whole-room teaching; multiple types of furniture for student choice, movement, and variety; overhead ceiling electrical connections; writable walls; and mobile monitor. Prep/collaboration space and small group space are separated by transparent walls for visible learning and for supervision when separation is required. High intensity lab space includes similar features, as well as utilities from the ceiling to tabletop access units, and glass fume hoods that divide the lab space from the multi-purpose space, allowing for better visibility by students and better ability for co-teaching.