Welcome to Inspired Classrooms!
Inspired Classrooms is a new integration model that takes the teaching and learning enhancements found in 1-to-1 classrooms at the secondary level and puts them to use in "regular" classrooms at the elementary level. Moving away from a traditional classroom arrangement, the Inspired Classroom model brings four or five classroom computers from the perimeter of the room to the student’s desks. The student desks are arranged in small groups that allow students to work cooperatively, and each group has dedicated access to a computer throughout the day.

This arrangement allows the technology to become an integral part of the learning process rather than an extra "center" or reward or project station. Short of a 1-to-1 environment, the Inspired Classroom model goes the distance in getting the technology in front of "most of the kids, most of the time," and seamlessly integrated into the teaching and learning process. We believe that Inspired Classrooms can be the catalyst that transforms the way we teach and the way that students are learning.

What are Inspired Classrooms?
Inspired Classrooms hasn't been around for that long. The term "Inspired Teaming" was coined in 2000 by Jerram Froese when trying to describe the perfect classroom environment for his 4th grade classroom at Gilbert Elementary in Irving, Texas. About that same time, Paula Barnard, a 4th grade teacher in Washington, posted a picture of her classroom with a similar seating arrangement and computer setup.

Since then, the idea of teaming students in small groups around a computer throughout the day has taken on new life, mostly due to the new toolset that teachers have available to them. Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wiki's and podcasting are free tools that allow a whole new level of teaming and collaborating to occur both in and beyond the classroom. Teachers are quickly discovering how easy it is to use these technology tools to facilitate the daily workflow of their classrooms and build relevance by using these tools and extending the class conversation into the global community.

The Inspired Classroom model brings the classroom computers from the perimeter of the room to the student's desks. The student desks are arranged in small groups that allow students to have easy access to a computer throughout the day. This arrangement allows the technology to become an integral part of the learning process rather than an extra "center" or reward or project station.

Short of a One-to-One environment, the Inspired Classroom model goes the distance in getting the technology in front of "most of the kids, most of the time," and seamlessly integrated into the teaching and learning process. We believe that Inspired Classrooms can be the great technology compromise for districts that want to take learning to the next level, through inspired teaching and learning, but do not have funding for 1-to-1. 4-to-1 may be the great compromise (and is certainly the perfect transition) between the traditional classroom and a 1-to-1 environment.

"It's not about the room. It's not about the tools."
Don't be fooled. Inspired Classrooms is just another technology environment descriptor…kind of like One-to-One. It only helps define what the classroom looks like, not the way teaching/learning is taking place. Inspired Classrooms is just the location where inspired teaching and inspired learning is taking place. The magic of Inspired Classrooms is the shift in teaching design. Right now, technology is driving reform in the teaching and learning process though national initiatives such as LoTi. We all want technology to become the “improved means to an improved end” in all classrooms. Encouraging teachers to move to an Inspired Classroom is a marketing strategy to convince teachers to reavaluate how they are teaching and how their students are learning, and make some changes.

Why Inspired Classrooms?
The reason behind setting up an Inspired Classroom is to put authentic and engaging learning activities in the hands of the kids that they can complete on their own, using the technology available to them within their team environments. The benefit to this model is that the teacher is not tied to the front of the classroom, but free to work one-on-one with individual students or small student groups. The notion that the teacher is the “sage on the stage” is no longer valid. Teachers in the Inspired Classroom want the students to use the technology to get information, find solutions and respond as a team to prove understanding and learning.

Here are some points of change that we are hoping to see in newly transformed Inspired Classrooms:
Minimize
Maximize
teacher lectures
hands-on, activities and lessons
student dependence on teacher
students helping each other
whole class instruction
asynchronous & differentiated learning
standing in line at the copy machine
online learning and building digital literacy
disconnected strings of facts
students connecting with their learning
teacher using the overhead projector
students using a blog
off-task behavior
engaged learners
silent, independent desk work
student networking and collaboration
individual student homework folders
online, networked portfolios

What Are Our Expected Outcomes?
We want to see students actively engaged in relevant, authentic learning activities. We want to see students working at the higher end of Bloom’s Taxonomy while creating real-world products and solving real-world problems. We want to see teachers put more of the learning process in the hands of students. We want to see classrooms move beyond teacher-prescribed and teacher-directed lessons in favor of open-ended, student-centered investigations. We want to see technology integrated into the teaching and learning process and not necessarily see the technology saved as an end product or culminating activity. We want students to grow into digital learners, communicating online with teachers, peers and networking with others outside the classroom. We want to see students not only consuming information, but referencing and contributing their own ideas to the learning community.