We recently interviewed three instructors who taught in Hine Hall 118 and Hine Hall 231 located on the IUPUI campus, and asked them to share their perspectives on teaching in these unique learning spaces. In this blog, Fawzi BenMessaoud, Andy Harris, and Sarah Johnson, generously share their experiences engaging students in these similarly designed active learning classrooms. They also address obstacles associated with these spaces and provide quick tips for any instructor new to these Hine Hall classrooms.
If you were to meet with an instructor who was going to teach in either Hine Hall room for the first time, what would be your first piece of advice?
Sarah Johnson: Be ready to climb all around. The front is so far from the back of the room. You will want to walk the room and that means stairs and dodging backpacks and bags. Just go for it. You will be able to better engage students if you leave the front and mix into groups and lead discussions from different parts of the room.
Andy Harris: Visit the room without students (and perhaps with a person familiar with the room) before you get started. You might not be aware of all of the resources available to you in that room, and you won’t have time to figure it out when you’re in class.
Sarah Johnson: The room is so conducive to group discussions with its round discussion tables. I would encourage the faculty member to consider their course and how they might work more peer to peer engagement into the lesson plans.
How did you navigate the classroom space, furniture, and other classroom features in Hine Hall 118 or 231?
Sarah Johnson: I intentionally moved around the room and made the “front of the room” a different side of the room each time I taught in there. This way students in the far back or sides were engaged as if they were in the front. This worked well on days when I didn’t need to the screens for visuals. The awkward part is that the room is quite oriented toward the front two screens, so the students tend to always want to look that direction if the screens are in use.
Sarah Johnson: I always brought a slide advancer with me to this room since the instructor station is at the front and so far away from the students. This way I was able to roam the room during activities and discussions. It allowed me to slip in and out of group and not feel so separated and stuck at the front station.
What do you perceive to be the biggest obstacle to teaching Hine Hall 118 or 231?
Fawzi BenMessaoud: The biggest obstacle was the acoustics. Given the size of the room and the number of students it was difficult to hear other students speak. There was the option of passing the wireless microphone but that takes time in the large space with only one to pass around.
Sarah Johnson: I lead an activity in the room with a much larger class and I noticed that it took more direction to have students at row seats join existing groups at tables. I would just suggest having a plan for this from the start. I used restaurant table numbers at the round tables and reassigned everyone to a specific table discussion and that way students at rows would be secondary group members joining existing groups at tables.
What was your favorite “thing” about teaching in either classroom?
Andy Harris: I like the variety of options I have in this type of room. It’s much easier to get some interesting group interaction in a room like this than a traditional lecture room, even with a large group.
Sarah Johnson: All of the whiteboards! They are everywhere. So anywhere can be a discussion point. Each group could draw up their ideas and present as if they were at the front of the room.
Fawzi BenMessaoud: The ability to go from theater/lecture setup to a group and round table group interaction activities without wasting time.
How do you engage your students at the glass boards on the walls in either space?
Fawzi BenMessaoud: I asked student teams to write a part of an answer and move to the next board to complete the work performed by the previous group. In this way students co-created a result instead of just one group working on one board.
Sarah Johnson: When I had groups discuss topics at their round tables they were regularly asked to write out their top takeaways on their group’s board to report out on to the class. There were times when I didn’t want to go around for a verbal report-out and instead had students walk the room to take in themes from other groups’ boards.
Thank you, Fawzi, Sarah, and Andy, for sharing with us! These tips are just a few examples of what is possible in Hine Hall rooms 118 and Hine Hall 231. If you’d like to share your own ideas, please add them in the comments below. If you would like to learn more or explore more about this or other Mosaic classrooms, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
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