The first time I walked down the hallway of my school as a teacher, I was shocked. Students were in between classes, and yet the halls were quiet. Sure, there were conversations here and there and the typical hustling sounds, but it was very different than I remember from my own high school and from the school that I student taught at. I teach in a very small school. There are about 50 students per grade. Very different from the loud, 350+ that I graduated with. Beyond this quantity difference, there were two things that I believe contributed to the lack of volume. First, most of this school is carpeted. They use those neat squares of carpeting in case something gross happens to a section. It decreases the noise by a lot and also provides a nice "homey" feel to the school.
The second involves lockers. Each student is given a locker at the beginning of the year. Only about 30% of the students actually use their lockers. Of those that do use them, mostly random supplies are stored there such as an extra pair of socks or a sweatshirt for when it gets cold. They don't use their lockers to store their textbooks, or their lunches, or a bag of quarters to call home after practice with. There is no sound of locker doors closing and no congregating around lockers to socialize. They basically don't even realize they exist...the just blend in with the rest of the wall.
I keep a combination locked cabinet in my room which students have access to. Those that know the combination aren't even able to open it. They have not had the years experience that I and most of my peers have had with the dial combination locks. They just don't get the clockwise, counterclockwise for a full turn, then stopping at the last number rule. Even after teaching them, it doesn't stick. I have to open the locker for almost every student who wants to get in.
I stumbled upon the site (below) a while ago and began working on a locker redesign project. I started with assumptions based on my own history with lockers. I can remember pairing up with a classmate in order to have the "big" locker at the end of the row of smaller ones just so that my sports bag could fit. We stored everything in there. We had one of those nifty magnetic mirrors hanging on the inside which was super helpful and necessary for my teenage self. The week I got my braces off and graduated to a retainer was the week that that same retainer gained access to the top shelf where it stayed for the rest of all time. The lockers back then had many purposes and were completely necessary. These assumptions just didn't hold up to the current uses for lockers at my school. Students would have to re-conceptualize the very idea of a locker for the assignment to hold any meaning to them.
The result was a variety of interesting sketches and models. Some students decided to create sports closets for themselves here at school which could hold larger things like hockey sticks. Others attempted to create technology charging docks. Some students completely molded the space that the lockers take up to create narrow "lounge-type spots" for kids to take a break. While these ideas were inventive and unique, when all was said and done, the students were not too excited by this project. The lesson plans have been resting quietly in my computer, safe from the groans of my students. I will return to it again someday, but will approach it with much less assumption. When I introduce it to the next group of students, maybe I will tell the tale of what lockers were back in the day, and what they could be again. Maybe I will even take out my Letter Jacket and make them watch the Breakfast Club. That'll show 'em.
Perhaps this lesson will work better for your students. Here are the materials to get you started...
I have been teaching art and design at the middle and high school level since 2006 and learning about both for a lot longer.