Where four classrooms transformed into modern, progressive and instructionally driven learning environments
The Workspace Interiors–Baldwin School District collaboration created four pedagogically responsive, progressive classroom learning environments. These Gressco mobile storage units were just one of many teacher-driven solutions.
For Baldwin public school teachers in Long Island, New York, traditional classrooms were not conducive to the needs of modern instructional practices. Baldwin’s educational team had a vision to create progressive learning environments that were pedagogically responsive. The Baldwin School District worked with the ODP Business Solutions™ Workspace Interiors team to create a solution that was both progressive and instructionally responsive.
With 25 years of experience partnering with school districts, Workspace Interiors has developed a vast and holistic solution portfolio. Better yet, we understand how to interface this portfolio to benefit teaching and learning in our partner districts. To accomplish Baldwin’s goal, we explored pedagogy in detail and interpreted it through design for four classroom priority spaces.
Through creation of these spaces, Baldwin refined a unique process for crafting environments as instructional tools — an added value from working with Workspace Interiors.
In October 2016, the Workspace Interiors team began working with Baldwin’s educational team to interpret the vision for modern, instructionally driven and progressive learning environments.
“Our goal is to modernize in accordance with the vision of our instructionally progressive educators,” said Dr. Shari L. Camhi, Baldwin’s superintendent. “We wanted to modernize the process of instructional methodology and ensure the physical environment matched that vision. We wanted to empower educators with environmental tools specifically curated to facilitate modern learning in unique grade levels, subject areas and instructional practices.”
Baldwin School District initially identified four classroom priority spaces: Plaza Elementary School, Steele Elementary School, Baldwin Middle School and Baldwin High School.
Seating can easily be reconfigured to fit the need — from conversations to study sessions. Move ottomans or rearrange chairs for easier collaboration.
Of the four educational spaces that the Baldwin School District wanted reinvigorated, the kindergarten space was the largest. It required a creative approach to multiple custom items, such as student chairs, ottomans, configurable tables, SmartLink® storage units and carpets.
Here the teacher practices a reading curriculum with a focus on encouraging early learners to “cozy up with books.” The educator for this classroom requested nooks and low-to-the-ground seating in order to offer a cozy and approachable progressive learning environment for children. This low-to-the-ground theme was repeated with her request for a teacher’s desk that encouraged early learners to sit near her for small group work.
The kindergarten space also included a theater space to be used for dramatic play.
In the kindergarten space at Plaza Elementary School, play-based learning was facilitated with a learning treehouse — the showpiece of the classroom.
This classroom’s educator requested both flexible seating and configurable desks. Additional instructional flexibility was provided with mobile seating, stacking chairs to maximize space and a mobile teacher desk.
Ideation walls and boards provided a place for student-driven project managing and student-led problem-solving. In this way, the progressive classroom learning environment could support different commonly used instructional styles to teach different subjects or learning objectives, as well as provide students with “real-world” experience with teaming for solution crafting.
Other creative features included ottomans and café-height tables and stools.
The social studies classroom at Baldwin Middle School was all about creating an environment for student collaboration.
The new design included writable floor-to-ceiling surfaces on walls to allow students to map out solutions, creativity-inducing soft seating, configurable desks for teaming and a custom counter-height learner bar that doubled as the teacher “desk.” This unique feature served as a perfect solution for the need for a modern teacher work area that doubled as a learner–educator collaboration and coaching area.
In addition to a marker wall, the fifth-grade classroom at Steele Elementary School also featured glass ideation boards to engage students.
With the thought partnership of Workspace Interiors, Baldwin transformed a social studies classroom, traditionally suited for lecture learning, into a space that stimulated creativity, conversation, critical thinking and collaboration.
Seeking to better empower her modern learners, the social studies educator for this classroom encouraged student-driven, highly challenging project work. The general instructional style was more in line with the design thinking model of solution crafting. Students would start a project with direction and project goals. After a project kickoff, students would use every inch of space to plan and create their independent and group projects.
The science space at Baldwin High School sets up an atmosphere that reflects where students will continue to learn, live and work in the future.
Whereas traditional science classrooms are focused on lectures and direct teaching methods, this instructor envisioned a more innovative way to deliver his lessons. He wanted to incorporate learning options that allowed for open spaces and access to group projects, just like many forward thinking science and STEM-focused real-world work environments.
Creative solutions that met these instructional needs included multiple mobile designs: a mobile teacher desk, mobile student seating, mobile storage and mobile ideation boards.
Additionally, ideation spaces and a floor-to-ceiling marker wall were included to provide canvases for science-centric problem-solving.
The new design allowed for rearranged seating on the fly and student-led discussions and inquiries.
"We wanted to empower educators and all Baldwin learners with environmental tools specifically curated to facilitate unique grade levels, subject areas and modern future-aware instructional practices. We’re so glad we found the right thought partners to make our vision a reality; and these first spaces are only the beginning!”
Designing spaces that motivate teachers and learners
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