The studio classroom is an idea that’s been around for a while (I think I was introduced to it about five years ago.), and it’s one that bears exploring in this climate of education reform. A studio classroom is focused more on projects. Students can be working individually or as a team on the same project. They can be developing their own projects on a given topic.
Where the studio classroom really shines is the freedom it gives students to direct their own studies within a given constraint or set of constraints. The teacher can present a topic and invite the students to explore the topic. Because no two people are alike, students are often drawn to different aspects of the topic and become the class expert on that aspect. This allows the class to learn more about the topic because they can see all of these different aspects. Even better, as each student or team works on presenting their topic, the topic is naturally presented in whatever media and modalities are on hand, allowing the material to reach students in different ways, allowing them to better soak up information. But the best part is because the students are interested in learning and teaching, they’re more engaged, and they’re engaged with the material in a practical (hands-on) manner.
What’s really interesting is that the studio classroom model has been in practice in Montessori schools for nearly 100 years. The 6-9 students are exposed to a topic, either by an introductory lesson or by the materials being placed out on their shelves, and then develop and execute their own mastery projects. And they do it successfully. So this isn’t a completely unreasonable direction for more traditional schools to consider as they look at how to move education systems more into harmony with the world beyond school.
For more information on the studio classroom, check out Studio Classroom: Designing Collaborative Learning Spaces and What is studio teaching?