From classrooms to communities

With advancements in teaching and learning necessitating flexible classroom spaces, find out how Yew Chung International Schools of Beijing is rising to the challenge with its innovative learning communities.

Yew Chung International School of Beijing students

Yew Chung International School of Beijing

International Guide 18/19 video
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Creativity. Critical thinking. Collaboration. Flexibility. Problem solving. When thinking about what a 21st century education model seeks to teach children, these are just a few of the adjectives that should come to mind. While the core curriculum remains important, there is an increasing understanding that the layout and function of classrooms themselves contribute to a children’s broader education in school – facilitating different teaching styles, lesson plans and ways of learning.Increasingly, progressive private and international schools around the world are adapting their spaces to fit this 21st century educational mind-set. Traditional classrooms separated by corridors are being knocked down to make way for large and flowing open spaces. What segmented spaces remain are fitted with collapsible glass doors, ensuring that no space feels closed off from another.Yew Chung International School of Beijing is one of these schools. Their recently renovated Learning Communities function as large, multi-year group spaces throughout which children and classes move and flow. At first glance, parents may wonder how students can focus on the curriculum in these wide open spaces. Below, Year 3 Co-Teachers from Yew Chung International School of Beijing break the space down into five distinct sections that they utilise to deliver a seamless 21st century learning experience.

The Confucian Forum

Every Learning Community needs a large, open space in which students and teachers can gather together as a community. The Yew Chung International School of Beijing's take on this is our Confucian Forum area. Situated between two painted gingko trees, it’s the main place for students and teachers to gather as a large group.The space will often serve as the space where a lesson is set up before breaking into small groups. It also serves as an assembly and performance space, for everything from class presentations to dramatic readings and acting. A stage and sound system can be added for even greater flexibility.

Maker Space

Another essential space of any Learning Community is a creative space for all kinds of different projects. Yew Chung International School of Beijing’s Maker Space fills just that role, offering easy access to creative materials for students, mobile furniture, and wipe-clean surfaces that take away the fear of making a mess and allow students to focus on their work.Why bother having a space for art and science projects in the community? Beyond convenience, having an embedded area for these projects helps children see the links between different subjects and specialties. No longer do children dissociate artwork and science with other subjects; the geography of the classroom itself teaches that the disciplines are linked together.Even on days when messy projects aren’t planned, the space is open, acting as a large versatile seating area also equipped with interactive screens for traditional lessons or small group work.

The Knowledge Market

Ready availability of resources is another great benefit of a Learning Community space. At Yew Chung International School of Beijing, our library section, fitted with couches and beanbag chairs, provides a comfortable place for kids to relax with a book or with work they’ve been assigned. The section is inherently designed to encourage quiet study – something that students pick up on naturally when they select this area to pursue solo or small group work.The Library section also encourages them to take greater ownership over their resources. Students are able to freely access learning resources like dictionaries or thesauruses, increasing their control over their own learning.

Apple TV Lounges

Technology integration is essential to any 21st century education model. Yew Chung International School of Beijing’s Learning Community takes full advantage, offering multiple Apple TVs on opposite ends of the space.Combining Apple TVs and iPads provides a myriad of learning opportunities impossible without these tools. Teachers frequently utilise this technology to model the work that students will then pursue on their own, demonstrating on the screen how to complete certain activities. The TV is also an excellent way to display student success by sharing work on the screen for all their peers to see.

Teacher Collaboration Room

A traditional mind-set might not think of the teacher’s office space as essential to student success, but in a Learning Community, all teachers sit together in a single bank of desks, providing the incredibly important opportunity for teachers to collaborate, reflect, and improve on a daily basis. It pushes teachers together and helps to form close relationships, which in turn allows them to try new ideas and evaluate them freely without the fear of failure or embarrassment.The kitchen area in this space also encourages staff from other parts of the school to visit, inspiring incidental conversations about teaching and teaching practices. This in turn builds links across the school and expands the sense of community even further beyond the walls of this particular year level.The Learning Communities at Yew Chung International School of Beijing have transformed the ways in which our students learn. They are part of our commitment to educating “the whole person”, equipping students with the ability to learn both independently and as a group, showcase their work in innovative ways, and draw exciting parallels across subjects.  To find out more about Yew Chung International School Beijing, visit www.ycis-bj.com.
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