Redesigning the classroom for better engagement boosts achievement
- Saluda Trail (SC) Middle School teacher Julie Marshall found that introducing wheeled chairs that detach from desks, which can rotate up or down for the use of different learning tools, made a significant difference in student effort and achievement.
- Marshall reported completed assignments rose from 52% to 98%, there was a 14% jump in the number of students who showed improvement by the end of the year, and reading growth targets nearly doubled to 62% after introducing a more flexible classroom model.
- She says the correlation between achievement and engagement is "not a surprise," and cites years of research pointing to the correlation between space and student participation.
The ideas of adaptive learning spaces and personalized learning go hand in hand: You can't say you're going to meet students where they are on content but force a one-size-fits-all model of delivery. Finding ways to help students physically engage with the content is one way to recognize that not all students learn the same way — kinesthetic learners, while not as large a chunk of the population as visual learners, retain information better by interacting physically with the material.
There are a number of ways one can achieve this. One is by disrupting the actual classroom space and making it more welcoming to interaction. Another is by introducing techniques that involve muscle memory in the learning of a concept, such as allowing students to practice spelling words while bouncing on an exercise ball, or tracing letters in shaving cream. Effective educators can identify the learning styles of all students in the classroom and adapt to meet students' individual needs.
- eSchool News How classroom redesign goes beyond test scores
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