District Embraces Flexible Classroom Design Options
Educators throughout the Levittown Public Schools are starting to take a nontraditional approach to classroom design by creating a more flexible classroom space that encourages collaboration and helps increase student concentration. Elementary schools such as Summit Lane and Gardiners Avenue have incorporated new flexible seating options into their classroom and math classrooms at Division Avenue and MacArthur high schools have embraced a new classroom model that eliminates the need for individual desks.
Just last month, fourth-graders in Jennifer O'Brien's class at Summit Lane School have started to utilize new seating options to integrate multi-sensory activities into the curriculum. With the help of occupational therapist Jaime Spencer, the classroom was transformed to include standing desks, disc cushions filled with air, wobble seats or round stools, crate seats with padded tops and kneeling pads. According to Spencer, these new seating options have the ability to help students stay alert and focused, promote proper balance, strength and postural control as well as give those who need to move a proper outlet.
"Many children struggle to sit in their standard classroom chair throughout the day," said Spencer. "Some children don't have the core strength and postural control to hold themselves up without slumping or slouching. Other children just need to move. By incorporating various seating options, the children are able to select the learning position that is best for them."
Gardiners Avenue School has also recently embraced new classroom furniture options. Students have the opportunity to utilize standup whiteboard desks, cushioned rocker style chairs and colorful stools that allow movement to help students stay alert by moving if they need to. Northside Elementary School plans to incorporate flexible seating into their classroom design plans for the start of the 2018 school year. Among their plans, the school will be departmentalizing the fifth-grade wing of the building to include whiteboard tables and a couch in each room for seating.
At the high school level, math teachers from Division and MacArthur high schools have incorporated round tables in lieu of desks. The idea began with MacArthur High School math teacher Joanna Sanford. During a workshop, Sanford was challenged to consider an alternative classroom configuration. She reflected on her own experience in the classroom and how difficult it was to navigate around her room filled with desks. She thought tables would be a sufficient way to enhance collaboration among students and be a better solution for the classroom space. Three math classrooms in each high school have been transformed into these new math communities, filled with round tables that can seat up to five students. Educators can walk around to help students, while math activities and peer collaboration can take place with ease.
"From my perspective, I have witnessed a very positive transformation in these new classrooms," said Director of Mathematics and Business Dr. Ellen Stegman. "They are joyful and productive spaces that facilitate higher levels of mathematical learning. Students are communicating, collaborating and creating mathematics together!"