Middle School Classrooms Get a Makeover
For many years, the district of Summit and LCJSMS have been training teachers in the learning benefits associated with differentiated instruction, problem-based learning, and collaborative thinking. Teaching in this style requires a flexible and open environment, student-centered resources, and a variety of work-spaces. This SEF grant transforms nine traditional classrooms at LCJSMS into 21st Century collaborative learning environments that utilizes movable storage walls to create learning centers or classrooms within classrooms, specially-shaped desks and chairs on wheels that are designed to instantaneously form pods, tables, circles, or individual seating arrangements, paint that transforms any surface into a brainstorming whiteboard, and a teacher’s desk that doubles as a movable mini-lesson center.With a classroom environment that embraces movement, encourages thought, and creates small-learning environments, we can transform our instruction into a truly 21st Century collaborative learning environment that will serve as a model of innovative classroom design. Members of the SEF Middle School Grant Committee try out the Node chairs in the one of the transformed classrooms.Erik Parks is the Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction at LCJSMS and the grant designer. He explains, “The learning environment of a classroom is one of the most essential components of quality, effective education. For the past five years, the faculty of LCJSMS have been continually building their instruction so that it transfers the necessary 21st Century Skills of communication, collaboration, problem-solving, critical-thinking, and creativity to our students. To continue this process, we need a learning environment that is conducive to the development and application of these skills. With this SEF grant, our students will now be able to work in environments that empower them to actively engage in and control their own learning process, and develop the 21st Century Skills that will be so vital to their future success.”Randy Wallock, LCJSMS teacher adds, "The new chairs will allow teachers to group and regroup students with ease, a quality imperative in the implementation of collaborative strategies. Other furniture, such as the teacher's desk can accommodate student teacher conferences, promoting student centered, individualized instruction. Features such as white-board paint will allow students to develop ideas and explore concepts in an open forum, encouraging the collaborative development of ideas and concepts. It is also important to note the effect this renovation will have on the students' perception of the classroom. Walking into a completely redesigned room unlike any they have experienced will surely set a tone for the type of innovative instruction the furniture will facilitate. What is most exciting, though, is the countless unforeseen advantages which will be discovered as teachers begin to explore the entire potential offered by this incredible opportunity."