My most elaborate creation has got to be what I affectionately call The Array™. It takes a Mac mini, my dedicated teaching computer, and duplicates its screen all around the room to six little pods. It was constructed one piece at a time starting in 2011 and might be nearing its final form, well until fancier TVs get cheaper or school becomes a VR head set experience anyway.

Here's a schematic

Each TV serves as a focus point for discussion in each little pod. I can have something on display and reference it anywhere in the room. My ability to turn College Algebra into a no lecture zone works great thanks to The Array™. While working on computers, kids have access to the room's printer and can reference the screens for examples or instructions or whatever. I can't count the number of times I've caught kids teaching each other using their local screen. It makes my big classes tiny.

Key modification this year:

These screens used to sit on their own tables, limiting my mobility at the back of the room. I found wall mounts that use picture nails (a LOT of picture nails) to do the job of cumbersome bolts, allowing these TVs to hang in place without having to damage studs or do any significant hacking away at the walls. Though it took forever, routing the cables along the wall was the smartest thing I think I've ever done.

I'm not saying go out and build your own array, but finding ways to decentralize your classroom opens you up to all kinds of cool possibilities. Some of which I will elaborate on soon...

AuthorJonathan Claydon