Ed Tip: Differentiated Learning Spaces

Create five different types of learning spaces to provide differentiated options for your students.

Grades K-12 1 min Resource by:
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To help students maximize their learning, we should provide them with a variety of learning environments. Education technology leader David Thornburg breaks classroom learning spaces into five metaphorical categories. Consider these when designing your learning environment and consider the role that technology can play in creating these learning spaces, which can be both physical and digital.


Here are a few starter ideas for each type of learning space:

  • Campfires: Spaces for students to come together, share, and learn with each other
  • Watering Holes: Less formal spaces where students can have collaborative conversations
  • Caves: Spaces for students to process, reflect, and study independently
    • Quiet classroom spaces
    • Online assignments
    • Journals (digital or on paper)
  • Life: Real-world learning experiences that extend beyond the classroom
  • Mountaintops: Public spaces to share, present, publish, and celebrate work
    • Classroom displays (perhaps with a QR code to a student recording)
    • Presentations created with Google Slides, Microsoft PowerPoint, or Prezi
    • Websites and blogs created with Google Sites (Tips), Blogger, or Seesaw (Tips)

Integration Ideas

As you plan your lessons, strive to provide a variety of learning spaces, so students can discover where they work best. At times, you may choose to require students to experience each environment. Other times, you might offer them a choice of where they wish to work. While students may prefer one space, it’s still important to stretch them, so they continue to discover learning spaces where they can be successful. It’s also good to provide a balance of online and offline spaces for students. These varied learning spaces can be used during work time, with stations, or as students work through playlist activities.

How can I learn more?

Explore AVID Open Access for more free templates, tool tips, podcasts, and other great resources, including the related article, Accelerate Learning Through Differentiation.