Virginia Educational Facility Planners
2018 Conference Seminars

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Keynote Presentations

What to Look for in Today’s Classroom
Keynote: George Couros

1.5 LU/HSW

The focus of the classroom has, for the better, shifted from a focus on the teacher to a focus on the learner. In this talk, I will share several elements of what we should be looking for in today’s classroom, knowing that focusing on only a few at a time, can start the move towards a transformational learning environment.


Changing School
Keynote: Wade Whitehead

1.5 LU/HSW

For far too long and in far too many places, learners have been asked to adapt their preferences, actions, and thinking to a pre-planned educational experience. Now, thanks to new understanding of the brain and how it works, we know that school can, and should, be differentiated to suit an astounding range of learning styles, intelligences, and strength sets. This session will focus on that acumen and, especially, how it impacts those who are bold enough to re-imagine today’s – and tomorrow’s – classrooms.


The Epic Classroom
Keynote: Trevor Muir

1.5 LU/HSW

Is there any point in learning something if you’re just going to forget it?

And this begs a bigger question: if learning is not memorable, should it even be considered learning?

Trevor shares how educators can shape their classrooms using the power of storytelling and brain science to achieve real student engagement, and in return, learning that is permanent and memorable. Any teacher, in any subject area, and in any grade level can use these practical and proven practices to transform their classrooms into settings where students are engaged, challenged, and transformed.

Breakout Session 1

School Safety Panel

1 HSW




When Great Instruction Is Allowed to Inform Our Learning Space

1 HSW

Space matters. Hear how two school divisions make the best use of their space for great instruction and how great instruction informs their spaces and student engagement. In this session, attendees will:
  • Understand an approach to authentic learning in one school division’s oldest facility and then in the division’s newest facility.
  • Hear how great instruction informs another innovative school division’s space criteria at the individual space level.
  • Learn curriculum-targeted techniques to engage students in evaluating and creating their own great learning spaces.
  • Use hands-on tools for evaluating and creating positive learning environments.
  • Take home a curriculum-targeted “Space Matters” checklist and toolkit list, ready to hit the ground running.

Through viewing examples and participating in hands on activity, attendees will understand the relationships between space design and educational delivery. Attendees will learn how to evaluate the physical qualities that make a good learning environment (space, light, acoustics, color, materials, air quality). Attendees will take away checklists to engage staff and students on above referenced relationships.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to describe the relationships between learning space qualities and educational delivery.
  2. Participants will be able to evaluate the physical qualities that make a good learning environment (space, light, acoustics, air quality, material colors and textures)
  3. Participants will have and understand “Space Matters” checklist and toolkit list to engage staff and students in creating positive learning spaces.
  4. Participants will be able to describe design decision making that supports great instruction.


The Power of Learning Labs on the Next Generation Learners

1 LU

Students learn in a variety of ways. With the advancement of technology taking place daily and a generation dependent upon it, re-thinking the spaces where they learn in is critical.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand how the next generation learns
  2. Where can we train
  3. Innovative spaces to train
  4. Using spaces outside of the classrooms to train

Breakout Session 2

Using Multiple Intelligences for Learner Personalization and the Implications for Design of Learning Spaces

1 LU

Personalized learning is an emerging trend which seeks to support student-centered, 21st century teaching and learning. In this session, the participants will consider the implications for school design through the intersection of pedagogy, based on personalization using the eight intelligences, and space. The goals of transforming spaces based on this pedagogical framework are to inspire teachers and students and engage their hearts and minds. A harmony should exist between space and learning. How architects and educators collaborate to create this harmony rests at the center of the session.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will gain a surface understanding of the characteristics of personalized learning.
  2. Learning Objective 2Participants will gain a surface understanding of the 8 intelligences.
  3. Learning Objective 3Participants will consider the implications for school design for learning spaces that create an environment for personalized learning and access to learning experiences based on the 8 intelligences.
  4. Learning Objective 4Participants will leave the session more inspired to work together-architects and educators- to transform the education landscape.


Early Childhood Education: Lessons from the Past and Possibilities for the Future

1 LU

Study after study reaches the conclusion that early childhood education has a tremendous impact on life outcomes. Yet only 51% of 3-and-4-year-olds in the US are enrolled in full-day pre-primary programs, with no improvement in the last 15 years. In this session, educators from the front lines will talk about the latest thinking in early childhood education. Along with educational planners and architects, they will review three projects designed to support early childhood education and how these spaces do or do not meet the needs of early learners. One project has been in operation for nearly a decade, one opened in 2017, and one is in the early planning stages. Participants will hear about approaches from three different districts in Virginia, understand best practices and lessons learned from these projects, and engage in a dialogue about the opportunities and challenges ahead.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand design and pedagogical strategies for supporting the specific needs of early childhood learners.
  2. Learning Objective 2Learn about current trends in early childhood education.
  3. Learning Objective 3Receive first-hand knowledge from school leaders, educators, and designers about best practices for facility design as well as lessons learned from projects over the last decade.
  4. Learning Objective 4Compare the benefits and challenges of centralized early childhood learning versus distributed early childhood learning.


You Can Have It Too! Case Studies in STEM Upgrades to Existing Schools

1 LU

To have a robust 21st Century education, students from all backgrounds need access to high quality STEM/STEAM education. With aging school infrastructure, the belief is often that STEM requires new building (be it an addition or a completely new facility), but this just isn’t the case. In the current financial climate, funding can prove elusive especially for smaller school systems without major growth or with failing systems/safety/security concerns that can get the attention of the local commissioner and taxpayers. In this presentation McKissick Associates will provide case studies in three successful low-cost STEM/STEAM renovation and renovation/addition projects in buildings dating from the 1920s to 1950s. These case studies will outline low and moderate budget strategies that smaller school systems can employ to remake existing physical plant for both the short and long term. This presentation will be particularly relevant to small schools with combined 6-12, 7-12, or 9-12 enrollments of 500 to 700 students, but also offers useful ideas for larger school systems with aging infrastructure.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Challenge the idea that STEM/STEAM education always requires new construction to be effective.
  2. Identify common characteristics of spaces which are candidates to be renovated into STEM/STEAM facilities
  3. Identify low to medium cost solutions for STEM/STEAM renovations
  4. Understand the placement of 21st Century spaces and adjacencies in renovated schools


Using Classroom Design to Support Learning in High School Math

1 LU

Classrooms need to be designed intentionally in order to facilitate and encourage innovative instruction and relevant, deeper learning. High school classrooms are all too often the last to adopt the principles of modern design and reflect a stagnant, traditional methodology that has become ineffective for sparking 21st century skill-building and collaborative learning. Come learn how one high school math teacher got rid of all the student desks and used innovative classroom design, technology, color and furniture to support challenged math learners in an 80-year old facility. Learn how the physical space enabled targeted interventions and hands-on, personalized learning to yield triple-digit improvements in student achievement. Yes, it can be done at the high school level too!

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learners will understand how classroom design facilitates specific types of instruction.
  2. Learners will be able to identity the aspects of flexible furniture that best support deeper learning strategies.
  3. Learners will develop an increased awareness of how instructional technology can foster creativity and 21st century skills.
  4. Learners will gain an understanding of how traditional math content can be better learned using innovative. project-based instruction enabled by physical classroom design.

Breakout Session 3

21st Century Site Performance Case Studies

1 HSW

High performance award-winning learn environments will be reviewed in depth during this presentation. These projects will showcase progressive site programming and execution, and creative ways to design for easier, cost effective, and long-term maintenance. In this session, participants will gain an understanding of the critical need for a careful and sensitive approach to land design and development and how LEED supports the unique conditions of a site; strategies and technologies to increase water efficiency in the landscape; the various roles that native species and habitat establishment can play in the context of resiliency and sustainability; and the role of trees as a component of urban infrastructure and how proper tree selection, planting, and care can create a healthy urban canopy and avoid conflicts with sidewalks and utilities.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will gain an understanding of the critical need for a careful and sensitive approach to land design and development and how LEED supports the unique conditions of a site.
  2. Participants will gain an understanding of strategies and technologies to increase water efficiency in the landscape.
  3. Participants will gain an understanding of the various roles that native species and habitat establishment can play in the context of resiliency and sustainability.
  4. Participants will gain an understanding of the role of trees as a component of urban infrastructure and how proper tree selection, planting, and care can create a healthy urban canopy and avoid conflicts with sidewalks and utilities.


2018 College Students Design Competition Winners Project Presentations

1 HSW




Is the Future of the Classroom No Classroom at All?

1 LU

In today’s connected, technology-driven world, learning is at our fingertips: we can satisfy our thirst for knowledge anywhere and at any time. The “instant lesson” fostered by the likes of Google and YouTube has mandated that formal educational environments be more responsive and student-driven, with fewer rules and more flexibility. Learning is blended, collaborative, and cross-disciplinary. In order to reach and connect with our students, we have to engage them in relevant, real-world experiences. In this new way of educating, we’ve all become lifelong learners. The relationship between secondary education, post-secondary education, and the professional world is malleable as traditional forms of progression through a formal education are evolving into a more personalized experience. How does a high school classroom function and evolve in this new way of learning? What is the role of a “classroom” to today’s learner and what does that space look like? How can we take what we’ve learned from cross-disciplinary success stories of think tanks, maker spaces, project labs and “sticky campuses” and shift today’s high school classrooms into tomorrow’s learning environments? In this workshop, we will share lessons learned from the maker world at a variety of schools and across a variety of age groups. We will share stories and examples of innovative spaces for collaboration that are taking learners outside of the classroom. We will take a look at Career and Technical Education and how it is influencing both the learning environment and the high school/college curriculum. And, we will work together to determine what a successful, adaptable, flexible classroom can look like for today’s learners. Unless, of course, we decide the classroom itself is no longer relevant 17 years into twenty-first century education…

Learning Objectives:

  1. Stay up to date on new developments in the design and use of non-traditional learning environments in secondary and post-secondary education
  2. Think creatively and develop new ideas as they relate to creating lifelong learners both inside and outside of the classroom
  3. Compare and contrast new learning spaces including maker spaces, think tanks, project labs, and third spaces that support learning
  4. Learn about trends influencing pedagogy and design of high schools, community colleges, universities, and professional work environments through co-teaching


Student Engagement: Why It Matters and How To Do It Effectively

1 LU

What can happen when we do more than just give lip service to engaging students in the planning and design process? Students from two schools in Philadelphia are collaborating to set the stage for success when their two schools are co-located two years hence. Students from Ben Franklin High School and the Science Leadership Academy, two schools serving disparate populations, met to untangle some of the challenges associated with maintaining separate identities while at the same time leveraging opportunities afforded through co-location. Led by educational planners and school architects, the students engaged in activities to better understand the role of architecture in education and design a variety of shared spaces within the proposed facility. Deliverables included the articulation of shared ideas and a series of designs emanating from student design charrettes. And while their collective thoughts informed the final design of the building, what was even more formative for the adults working with them is how quickly they pushed through barriers in order to collaborate. It became clear that the students were excited about the possibilities, and their enthusiasm spread to the team. Indeed they were building community through education! This session will share ideas about student engagement within the framework of co-location, but lessons learned are broadly applicable. The artifacts created by the students – videos of the collaboration, images from their charrettes, etc. – will be shared as well.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand why student engagement is important
  2. Learn strategies for engaging students in the planning and design process
  3. Learn lessons from student engagement
  4. Understand how student engagement from the case study in Philadelphia is broadly applicable

Breakout Session 4

Engaging Students during Design and Construction

1 LU

Learning doesn’t have to wait for the first day of class in a new school building! 21st century learners can be engaged throughout the design and construction process and can teach the rest of the team a few things along the way. Virginia Beach City Public Schools embraces the idea of creative student involvement before, during, and after construction, and has worked with its development and construction teams to implement fun and effective student outreach. In Virginia Beach, elementary school students can be found practicing geometry by developing site concepts, middle schoolers learn about erosion by skyping from the construction sites, and high schoolers compete to develop the best design for outdoor spaces. Along the way design professionals can get inside the minds of their ultimate clients and learn how little changes made in the design of a building or site plan can contribute to increased learning opportunities for students. The end product is a better school for the students and lessons learned for the design team that can be replicated on future projects.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Think creatively about how to involve staff and students
  2. Understand VBCPS methods for engaging students
  3. Share lessons learned from student input
  4. Share ongoing student engagement


Classroom Design to Support Deeper Learning

1 HSW

Virginia's Profile of a Virginia Graduate is a comprehensive plan to integrate the content knowledge, workplace skills, authentic career exploration and community partnerships necessary to prepare students to live and lead in tomorrow's economy. This student-centric instructional model demands a different type of pedagogy, assessment and classroom design. This session will explore how authentic, performance-based instruction and practical tips for designing a classroom to support deeper learning can address Virginia's new accountability model and enhance deeper, explorative learning in your division.

The physical learning environment supports sound instruction and design of the most effective learning space. Participants will build upon existing knowledge of design and acquire new knowledge of how physical space can best support deeper learning and the new pedagogical model of VA's Profile of a Graduate.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to explain the difference between traditional instruction and deeper learning models of instruction.
  2. Participants will understand how performance based and project based learning supports VA's new model of accountability.
  3. Participants will be able to explain how physical space can support deeper learning and project based instruction.
  4. Participants will understand how research has supported the impact of physical learning space on student achievement.


Designing Educational Spaces to Inspire Divergent Thinking

1 LU

Today, our economy is driven by ideas, innovation and creative thinking. Our education system has evolved along with the economy, and therefore, there is an emerging era of teaching methods that encourage divergent thinking, foster collaboration and challenge traditional techniques that often stifle creativity. As architects and designers, it is our job to create more thoughtful and dynamic spaces that nurture a student’s innate curiosity and creativity, and equip teachers with the right environment to teach in a variety of ways. Key design features of modern educational spaces include:

  • Primary and secondary spaces: Classrooms should include both smaller, quieter areas for reverie and free thinking, as well as larger areas that create opportunities for collaboration, brainstorming and leadership.
  • Light and connections to nature: Whether it be stunning views through floor to ceiling windows or outdoor classrooms and courtyards, students should be exposed to nature more often – a claim supported by research that shows nature is a good antidote to depression, ADD, child obesity and the epidemic of inactivity.
  • Moveable furniture and writeable walls: These features allow for enhanced flexibility within the classroom, enable children to think freely, control their environment and foster interaction between students and teachers.
  • Places for Play: Multipurpose play structures let students test their imagination by inventing interesting play concepts outside the confines of the “right way” to play.
  • Hospitality-infused dining: Modern cafeterias are moving away from the hard, big box scale with long rows of utilitarian tables; instead, they are featuring smaller, circular tables that offer a more pleasant, intimate dining environment and enhanced interaction between students.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Define the concept of divergent thinking and its role in learning and the creative process.
  2. Summarize studies that describe the importance of divergent thinking in today’s data driven economy.
  3. Identify four ways that spaces can be designed to encourage divergent thinking.
  4. Through the use of case studies, describe how educational faculty architecture can inspire divergent thinking.


2018 SchoolsNEXT Competition

1 HSW






Previous Year Conference Presentations

Click here to see 2017 Conference Presentations.