Going to the Margins

I would like to introduce going to the margins with the picture above. In the image, we can see the margins, teacher, student, and content all fitting together like a puzzle piece. When going to the margins, we want our classroom to look like this. Often times we talk about going to the margins in a positive manner but, if it does not look like the picture above it could be a negative thing. What exactly does it mean to go to the margins? Going to the margins means doing new things that you have never done before. It creates a pulsating learning environment in the classroom.

Margins in the classroom

  • Creates diversity
  • Unpredictable
  • Can be risky
  • Enrichment can be used to go to the margins
  • Fosters wonder
  • Polyculture
  • Unforgettable activities
  • New activities being brought into the classroom

The picture above illustrates using margins in the classroom. These students are full of wonder. They are the source of a pulsating learning environment. In the classroom it is important to be in the center to establish knowledge, then move outside to the margins to expand on that knowledge. These students are curious about the animals in the cage. Wonder is being fostered in this image.

Here is a diagram to better help explain going to the margins. In the diagram, we are looking at asking questions. These questions are open-ended. This is to help foster wonder and not just tell the student the answer. these kinds of questions guide the students to think more.

Being in the margins vs. teachable moments

Being in the margins is going above and beyond, diving deeper into a student’s questions. Teachable moments would be when a student asks questions and you as the teacher, simply answer the question at the surface level. When a student gets a question wrong, a teachable moment would be telling them the correct answer. Teaching in the margins would be the students exploring the correct answer. Teachable moments are more surface level, quick fixes, while teaching in the margins is diving deeper and taking risks.

Here is a video I have included to help better understand teaching in the margins. The video mentions how we need to stop lecturing and create learning experiences. This is a great way of putting what teaching in the margins means.


  1. Hi Allie! I think you did really well exemplifying what it means to teach in the margins with this post! Your reliance on images to explain your points perfectly strays from a cut and dry blog post. It was fantastic! Do you have more examples of class activities that go into the margins?

    • Hi, thank you! Some more class activities that I could think of when going to the margins might be to include some STEM in the activities.

  2. Hi Allie!
    This is an amazing post, I like how you really stressed the importance of connecting the students to the margins. The diagram of the questions we can ask in a class that are open-ended, and having them really dig deep to the real meaning behind the “answers” is really amazing and something we will use in our class everyday. What are some ways you would take your students to the margins and away from the center?

    • Hello, thank you! One way I will take my students away from the center and to the margins is to really get the students thinking. I think maybe doing like a mystery puzzle for them to solve will foster wonder and help take them to the margins.

  3. Hey Allie, I liked the emphasis that you placed on exploring questions in the margins. In addition to this, going from gaining knowledge in the center to exploring the gained knowledge in the margins through questions and projects makes for a wonderful classroom. I was wondering how you might move your class from the center to the margins and get them interested in what they are doing?

    • Hello, thank you! I plan on doing this by using activities that really get the students thinking. Earlier I had mentioned a mystery puzzle for the students to solve. In addition to this maybe I could have class pets and foster wonder this way in order to move my students to the margins.

  4. Hey Allie! I really like how you started your post with a visual on what margins look like in a classroom environment. A combination of student, teacher, margins and content can really transform a classroom into a more meaningful learning environment for their students. I also used that video of students going outside and exploring their learning in my own blog post. It’s motivating to see real-life teachers implement these ideas of margins and learning through doing. Are there any activities or labs you plan on doing with your students that focus more on exploration with margins? If so, what would they be?

    • Hello, thank you! I would really enjoy getting the students outside to explore nature firsthand. I want to do a lab that is outside to help create more curiosity to help guide the students to the margins.

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