I hate clutter! I have a hard time thinking when I’m in a place that is not organized or appealing. Many elementary classrooms are full of wonderful posters, student artwork, books and a billion educational tools. Yet, I think that all of this educational clutter makes it hard for students to concentrate. I feel that the atmosphere students learn in is very crucial to their well-being, both emotionally and academically.
In room A-105 at South Hill School we’ve been working hard to create a room that resembles a mix of a hip California start-up company meeting a living room all with a National Geographic type twist. The room has a very cozy and welcoming feel to it. Over the course of the year we have made many alterations to the room. So many so that it feels like every week something is new to the room. All of the students seem to like how it feels and state it often. Other teachers, staff and parents also comment on what a conducive learning environment it is. One teacher asked “ Is there any other way you could make this more like a living room?” The next few paragraphs outline just a few of the changes.
Artwork and aesthetics play a critical role in my life. Aesthetics actually means to be aware and alive. Think about it; it’s the opposite of anesthetic, which makes you numb and unaware. My lovely wife Esther and I like to make collages with our old magazines. With so much wall space in the room to cover, collages were the perfect way to add art, culture, science, history and visual literacy to the room without cluttering it. Esther made a number of collages for the room, some even into letters to form words that represent the mood of the room. The artwork is just one of the many features that make this room unique.
When most people describe a classroom, they list off a few key items such as; desks, chairs and chalkboards. This room has none of those elements. Yes, there is one chalkboard but it is more a piece of art than a functional part of the room. Most people find it weird that there are no desks or chairs in our room. Instead we have tables, yoga balls, a few stools, standing tables, and an ENO board (interactive whiteboard). The switch from a conventional classroom to this new hybrid has been fun and enlightening. There is no more clutter from desks. Students have cubbies where they keep all of their learning materials. I’ve made the tables dry erase so that the students can do work directly onto the table and save tons of scrap paper. Yoga balls and stools have dramatically helped the fidgeting issues that generally plague a classroom of ten and eleven year olds. They are able to work while moving at the same time. Guess what, the movement of the balls doesn’t hurt their performance, in fact it benefits their ability to concentrate. Lastly our ENO board is a new addition to the room and has been great. Thanks to Dr. Brown having one of these boards put in every room the board of the past is replaced with one that is interactive, and allows students a new look at the world through images, video, text, and interactive programs.
All in all our room is a great place to learn. The atmosphere is not cluttered and has an appealing aesthetic to it. I feel that students and adults alike love coming into the room to work, learn, teach, inspire, relax, and make lifelong memories.
I love small spaces. I feel cozy, comfortable and safe when I’m inside a tiny area. Apparently I’m not the only person that enjoys being like a sardine in a small tin case. A new trend is developing in the housing market: tiny homes. A tiny home is generally a house under 500 square feet. Three of the major benefits to tiny houses are affordability, Eco-friendliness, and people seeking a simpler lifestyle. Tiny homes are an emerging trend in modern housing because they offer an environmentally friendly, cheap and easy way for people to live.
Tiny houses are a very affordable and inexpensive mode of living for many individuals. The average house in Ithaca costs around 184,000 dollars! That’s a ton of money for most people. The average family in Ithaca earns $29,000. No one making that kind of money would qualify for a mortgage, but if they did, it would take them about 50 years to pay it off. Most micro homes cost only $10,000-$40,000 to build. Some can even be made for as low as $5,000. Not only are they cheaper to build they’re also much cheaper to fix and maintain. A house this small is much easier to heat because there is less space to heat up. There isn’t as much to fix because the entire structure is smaller. Another benefit to the lower upfront cost is that you can spend a bit more money per square foot and buy better materials. Micro-homes create housing almost anyone can afford.
In addition to being a financially feasible option for many, micro homes are also very environmentally friendly. The are environmentally friendly for three main reasons. The first is they require fewer materials to be constructed. There is far less wood, metal, plastic, wiring and other building materials put into a tiny house because of their small size. Anther reason they are better is that it takes less energy to warm and cool them. This energy savings is good for both the wallet and nature. Lastly, having such a small house means a person can’t buy as many things because there isn’t the room to keep them. This lack of consumerism leads to less materials and pollution being created for stuff people buy. Micro homes help the world by requiring less of it’s limited resources.
One more reason people are interested in tiny homes is they lead to a simpler life. When you can only have so many things in a small space you don’t buy or collect as much. This equates to having more money, more time and less stuff to take care of. You have more money because you’re less likely to buy stuff you don’t urgently need. You also then do not have to pay for the upkeep of your junk. That means you have more money and can work less, and have more time. You also have more time because you don’t need to spend a lot of time cleaning and repairing a smaller house. Lastly, when you have less stuff you enjoy what little you have even more. Micro homes make for simple living for their occupants.
Tiny houses are a trend because of how sustainable, affordable and amazing they are. With more people looking to save money and the environment we can expect to see more of these tiny homes popping up. In fact, there are a fair number of tiny-home communities being built or inhabited in the Ithaca area.
These houses are so cheap that a man by the name of Carmen Guidi is building these homes for the homeless of Ithaca to live in. in There are almost done and are in Newfield just outside of Ithaca. There are 8 of these micro homes being built to help the homeless make a fresh start. For more on this project read the IthacaTimes article here