There’s Room for All Styles: Designing a Kinesthetic/Auditory/Visual/Social Classroom

By Lily Thiboutot, February 27, 2017

Grade Level

  • Middle School


  • School Design

Subject Area

  • Mathematics

Lesson Time

50 minutes


This lesson includes a design challenge which hooks kids on the idea of a classroom where kinesthetic learners could move, visual learners could thrive, and the space literally invited social learners to interact. Students will need to apply proportional thinking as they prototype a classroom design proposal for a school which the survey data show is about one third visual learners, one sixth auditory learners, and so forth. By the end of the class period, students will feel empowered as some of the best consultants when it comes to classroom interior design and they will have experienced the need for proportional reasoning in order to meet the needs of their specific user.

National Standards

The Common Core Standards connected to this lesson are: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly. Analyze proportional relationships and use them to solve real-world and mathematical problems.


  • Students will be able to understand and address the needs of a variety of learning styles
  • Students will use the design process to formulate their ideas, express themselves to peers, collaborate, and provide feedback to self and others
  • Students will reflect on their experience in classrooms over the years and think innovatively about alternatives to the classic chairs-and-desks environment
  • Students will innately use proportional reasoning when looking at a circle graph, and apply that informal reasoning when prototyping for a design
  • Students will be compelled to apply formal proportional reasoning in order to improve their prototype and overall design


Classroom projection equipment is necessary for the ActivInspire/Powerpoint materials to be displayed and referenced.   Online resources for further exploration of classroom design:   See “A Room for All Styles” PDF or flipchart for photographs of innovative classroom designs (slides 12, 13 and 14).   Video on Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic styles:   Alternative Seating Options for kinesthetic learners:  


“A Room for All Styles” Flipchart (forActivInspire software) or PDF DITC materials bags (one per student group) Student handout –print both a and b on one page double-sided


Visual Learner: Someone who prefers to learn by seeing, and is attracted to various different ways to visualize material. Auditory Learner: Someone who prefers to learn by listening, and is attracted to learning material with voices and sounds. Kinesthetic Learner: Someone who prefers to learn by doing, and is attracted to a hands-on approach for learning new material. Social Learner: Someone who prefers to learn by discussion, and is attracted to approaches to learning based on social interactions and connections to lived experience.


  1. Open the lesson with two classroom polls: What learning style is your best? and Which of these innovative classroom chairs would you like to have at your desk? (3 minutes)
  2. Show students a photo of a classroom with an unusual set-up and discuss which type of learners would like coming to class here and why. Your objective in leading this discussion is to ensure all students understand the basic definitions of Kinesthetic learners (learn by doing), Visual learners (learn by seeing), Auditory learners (learn by hearing) and Social learners (learn by discussing and interacting) (5 minutes)
  3. Define the problem by revealing the results from a poll of the school’s student body asking them which learning style they identify with. The results appear as a pie chart without specific percentages labeled, just 4 simple ‘slices’ of different sizes that are color coded for the 4 learning styles. (2 minutes)
  4. Getting Ideas will begin as soon as you state the challenge: Design a classroom with enough options for all the learning styles. Pass out the student handout and allow students 3 minutes of brainstorming time with their table groups. They can draw or write ideas pertaining to one or more learning styles. (5 minutes)
  5. (transition) Without discussion, present a few guiding questions on the board such as:
    1. According to our survey results, would a classroom with half standing desks and half beanbag chairs be a good design?
    2. Does this circle graph tell you how many kinesthetic learners will be in, for example, your next hour science class?
    3. Which learning style seems to be the most represented? Which design needs the most space in the ideal classroom?
  6. Making and Prototyping Instruct the class to decide as a table group which idea is best for each learning style. They will be able to prototype at least one design (for one learning style) but if their communication is strong they can prototype an entire classroom design which includes one of the options they’ve brainstormed for each of the 4 learning styles. Have one table group member get a DITC materials bag and return to their group to start building. (10 mins)
  7. Set a 3-minute timer for students to clean up their unused materials and grab an iPhone or camera in order to take a quick photo of each table group’s prototype. (3 minutes)
  8. Test and Evaluate Use overhead projector to display each prototype photo. Think out loud to students about how the best design will have the right break-down of the different learning styles: “Based on the data, I know we need a room with more options for social learners than there are for auditory learners…” As photos are shown, limit discussion to 2 questions from the class for any given group’s prototype. (10 mins)
  9. Tell the class that if we want to see any of the designs come to life then the principal is the ultimate decision-maker, and the first thing she’s going to say is What will it cost me?, so of course we have to have specific numbers. Ask students to turn to the back side of their student handout and follow along note-taking as you lead them in more in-depth mathematical analysis. Use proportions to demonstrate approximately how many seats should be included for visual learners, how many “social seats” the classroom design will need, and so forth. (10 minutes)
Allow table groups the last couple minutes of class to specify the proportions of their various design elements on the brainstorming side of the handout before handing it in.   Discussion Questions: Would a visual learner thrive in this classroom? Why or why not? Would an auditory learner thrive in this classroom? Why or why not? Would a kinesthetic learner thrive in this classroom? Why or why not? Would a social learner thrive in this classroom? Why or why not? What type of learners is the average American classrooms designed for? Are the learning styles of your generation changing proportionally or disproportionately compared to the previous generation?


Review the students’ work on the lesson handout and check for misconceptions when solving proportions. Within one week, assess by providing a written or oral quiz that includes three levels of questioning: Level 1: Solving a traditionally written proportion (“naked numbers” problem) Level 2: Applying a proportion to a word problem modeled after today’s lesson (“If one sixth of the school are kinesthetic learners, how many of these beenbag chairs should be included in the budget for a classroom of 30?) Level 3: Applying a proportion to a word problem in a new context

Enrichment Extension Activities

To expand the lesson and follow through with the classroom design challenge, students should conduct internet research on the cost of classroom furniture designs comparable to those used in their prototypes and prepare a detailed budget for a classroom meant to serve 30 students. The budget proposal can then be submitted to the principal or administrative team for review and feedback.   Or, better yet, the proposal can be made in person!

Teacher Reflection

Student engagement was high from the very beginning, so I believe starting with a poll of student opinions is definitely a great way to begin. After teaching the lesson, I realized I would have liked to conclude the activity with the same polls in order to see if opinions were changed/influenced. Students were successful at collaboratively engaging within their groups once the prototyping phase began, but they were not as collaborative as I’d hoped during the 3-minute brainstorm. I would structure the brainstorm time more intentionally were I to re-teach this lesson in the future. Many students were cognitively engaged throughout the teacher-led portion where we formally applied proportions to determine the desired quantity of each design. I would add a brief f0rmative assessment to the student handout for them to try and solve a proportion on their own before handing in their work at the end of the lesson.

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