Altering Environment with an Itty-Bitty Classroom

Ever feel like the Genie in Alladin? “Phenomenal cosmic powers! Itty bitty living space!” Read on to learn how to differentiate environment even as a genie stuck in a bottle.

Differentiating environment means changing the way your classroom works and feels in order to meet the learning needs of students. This may include things like rearranging desks or providing alternative types of seating (like bean bags or a rug), as well as creating areas within your classroom for quiet learning and cooperative learning. However, if your classroom is anything like mine–the size of a magic lamp with 32 students and a bazillion bulky desks crammed inside–it can be rather difficult to alter the physical environment. Instead, use technology to grant the wishes of your students, and free yourself of the limitations of the magic lamp! Here’s the setup:

Let’s say your students are completing a practice assignment. Rather than make them all work independently or in groups, split your classroom into 3 learning zones based on personality type. To learn more about the Myers Briggs personality types discussed below, click here.

Zone 1: Extraverted Sensing Learners

Student Characteristics: Extraverted Sensing (ES) students learn best when they can move around, work with others, and use their hands.

Location: At the projector/whiteboard

Tools/Materials: whiteboard markers or sticky notes, OfficeLens (app), Post-its Plus (app)

Procedure: If possible, project the assignment onto a whiteboard. Using whiteboard markers, have students work together to complete the assignment. If you do not have a whiteboard behind your projector, you can project the assignment and have students add sticky notes to record their answers. Make sure students know that they are expected to work together on every question, though they may trade out who writes down each answer. You can also have students write their initials next to each question they helped with so you can quickly tell who has done what. When they are finished you may want to have them take a picture of their completed group assignment using an app like OfficeLens, which allows you to take a picture of a whiteboard and save it as a Microsoft Word document or PowerPoint (it also optimizes the photo to make it readable). If you have a large number of Extraverted Sensing students, you could split them into two groups, and have one group work with the whiteboard while the other group records their answers on Post-it notes, using the Post-its Plus app to digitally document and share their work.

Zone 2: Introverted Learners

Student Characteristics: Introverts (IN and IS) learn best when they have a chance to process information or practice a skill independently before sharing or discussing it with others.

Location: As far away as possible from Zone 1

Tools/Materials: Computers, device for listening to music (student’s preference)

Procedure: Have students work quietly and independently on the assignment. Allow them to listen to music (using headphones) if they like. You may want to have them turn their desks toward a wall or just away from other students to help them focus.

Zone 3: Extraverted Intuitive Learners

Student Characteristics: Extraverted Intuitive (EN) students learn best when they have a chance to experiment and be creative, as well as share their ideas.

Location: Anywhere there is leftover room

Tools/Materials: Computers, Google Drive/Google Docs

Procedure: Using Google Docs, share the assignment with all students in the group (to save yourself work, you could just share it with one student who then shares it with the other group members). If you are unfamiliar with Google Docs, watch this short video to learn how to share a document. Once the document is shared, all students will be able to type on the same document at the same time. Have students discuss and take notes on the questions together. When I do this, I have each student type their name in a different color font at the top of the page, then type all of their comments in the same color, so it is easy to see who wrote what. Because Extraverted Intuitives love to lead and come up with their own ideas, you may even let them decide how to structure their discussion. You can see a sample document below.


Do you have other ideas for tech tools to differentiate environment? If so, I would love to hear from you! You can leave comments to the left of the post.


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