Harbor City International School
An ENVIRONMENT for COLLABORATIVE, PROJECT-BASED LEARNING
Collaboration and project-based learning were identified as key objectives in the planning of this learning environment; these methods foster creative connections and synthesis, skills that students need to succeed. This high school illustrates ten design features that support collaborative, project-based learning:
· Variable sized spaces
· Individual workspace
· Presentation space
· Cave space
· Spaces with access to food and beverage
· Process galleries, studios and labs
· Collaboration incubators
· Get away spaces or niches
· Display spaces
· Access to technology
PLANNED by a SMALL GROUP of TEACHERS that USED the WEB EFFECTIVELY
A handful of teachers with a passion for working with teenagers launched the school from their living rooms. The group visited other exemplary facilities in the state, examining approaches to curriculum and the environment. They hired an educational facility planner and architect to lead the deign process that was located 200 miles away. Most of the design discussions were conducted via e-mail and Web-based images. Once schematic design was completed, a local architect was retained. Most of the collaboration between he local architect and design architect was conducted via e-mail and Web-based sharing of plans and details.
GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP, 19th CENTURY BUILDING
This public charter school will occupy the third floor of an 1860 industrial building in the central business district. The school provides a small, learner-directed community that encourages investigative learning, global citizenship and nurtures a sense of belonging. The school’s purpose is to graduate students who are knowledgeable, discerning, passionate, creative, and reflective.
A total of 100 seats will be available in the fall of 2002, with a projected enrolment in 2004 of 200. The school expects to expand onto the 4th floor as enrollment grows. The 14,000 square foot 3rd floor area is small by high school standards - typically about 140 SF per student or 17,000 square feet would be utilized; however, the school is located within walking distance of the public library, YMCA, art museum, aquarium, and television station — allowing the school to leverage other facilities for learning.
Each student has a home base comprised of her own lockable drawer, adjacent coat hook and an individual workstation shared with another student. Depending on the time of day and adjacent activities, the workstation can serve as either “cave space” or a collaboration incubator. Many of the workstations have round conference ends, serving as an informal meeting area. Workstations also include an acoustically absorptive tack board and partial height enclosure.
The school will utilize a wireless network for general communications, word processing, spread sheets and Web research. White boards with a medium textured surface double as projection screens for computer projection. At the opposite, projection side of each white board, an Ethernet connection with category 5 wiring support projection of large graphic, video or music files. Ethernet connections are also located in the media lab, offices, teacher’s room and library.
EAT, MEET, DISCOURSE
A cafe serves as a social team area, with an adjacent sink, refrigerator, and microwave and juice vending machine. Two couches and comfortable chair clusters near large, arched top windows with a view of teh harbor are located within the café area, allowing for informal learning and “get away” space. Rectangular tables along a wall, with display space, above provide for informal study and eating. Round tables in the center accommodate up to six students for eating or project work. An enclosed warming kitchen is available for catered hot meals.
QUIET TEAM AREA
In contrast to the lively, high volume character of the café, a quite team area is located at the center of the school. Student workstations, bookcases and couch/comfy chair clusters support individual work and small group meetings. The library includes a private conference room, study carrels and two over stuffed armchairs in a niche created by a unique brick archway.
A presentation forum includes a raised platform and a 12-foot dedicated projection screen. The chairs are movable, so that the space can be used in various ways. For example, after a presentation students can rearrange into breakout groups around the room.
LABS AND MESSY SPACES; INTERIOR WINDOWS
A media lab, art room and science lab provide for both hi-tech and messy functions. Vinyl sheet flooring and sinks in the science and art rooms allow for craft and scientific project. The media lab has a sound control wall enclosure and both theater type and direct/indirect lighting, allowing it to serve as a recording studio. A double-glazed interior window provides a view from the central café and workstation area into the media lab. Interior windows are used throughout the school to bring light into the interior, as well as to foster connections between adjacent spaces.