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Flexible Classrooms

When you walk into classrooms at W.L. Morse you will see some students working at a standing desk engrossed in their project, other students collaborating at a table, and still additional children sitting in a cubby with a pillow and blanket reading a book.

These different environments in one classroom represent the Flexible Learning Spaces that now exist in the elementary school.

Morse Principal Torrance Walley explained the global movement provides educators with the opportunity to ask students, “Where do you do your best learning?”

“Flexible Classrooms,” said Walley, “Allow students to be more purposeful in their learning and have more choices. They can ask themselves, am I doing a good job?” Walley said data shows that when children are more involved with their leaning, they perform better.

Walley and his faculty went on site visits to the Byram Hills School District and to a school in Paramus, New Jersey to see Flexible Classrooms in action. They also attended training at the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center.

At Morse, first and second grade teachers have repurposed desks and tables to open-up the classroom space. Book shelves that formally were up against walls are now often found in the middle of a room, creating a more inviting library. Rooms consist of quiet areas and collaborative areas, and students can transition from station to station throughout the day. Varied learning spaces enable the classrooms to meet the needs of all learners – a District goal.

Students made suggestions about what might work best. For example, in one room, the children  removed the pad from a bench bookcase and placed it on the floor, so they can kneel and work side-by-side. “The idea is that the classroom learning environment should be designed to enhance the type of learning you want. We would like to have collaborative learning here and  learning can change depending upon the type of project assignment or goal,” Walley added.

The standard name tags were removed from student desks and tables. Dual Language teacher Rafael Bencosme said it was a simple adjustment. “Classrooms were more rigid in the past, and not as comfortable.”  Bencosme and Dual Language partner, Leslie Meehan explained, “The students are more prepared for change. We told them, do not sit next to your best friend, sit where you will do your best learning.”

 

The Flexible Classrooms mimic the transformation that is taking place in 21st Century Office spaces. Most offices no longer have cubicles and large conference rooms

 

First-grader Nicholas Farbman described the reading nook as a comfy area. “You can have a little of your own space and you can just sit by yourself.”