Reactions to one of Ann Arbor Public Schools first lighthouse classrooms

Over the next couple of months, students, teachers, other staff, and community members will get a chance to see new furniture that Ann Arbor Public Schools will consider buying with funds raised by the 2015 Bond. There will be 12 lighthouse classrooms across the district and in various grade levels. This week Ralph Carnegie’s Fifth Grade classroom at Haisley Elementary become one of the first to receive the new furniture. Here are some of the first impressions.

Teacher Ralph Carnegie

“It looks really cool, you know it looks like a lot of fun.  I can only imagine what it might have been like if I was a child going to a school in a classroom that had that type of furniture in it.  So I was excited for the kids and I was also excited for myself.”

On the ability to move the furniture-  “When we need to be in more of a lecture hall setting we’ll be able to assemble ourselves in that way, or if we need to be in groups we’ll be able to move in groups.  The impact is, it’s going to be a lot smoother and easier as opposed to how it was, you know a few days ago, the desks were heavy and you had to slide them across the floor and things like that.  Well now kids can just push their chairs, push the desk, and voila, we’re in a totally different grouping.”

On the ability for kids to move around the room in the furniture-  “I was originally nervous a little bit, just because when I let the kids come in when they were just finished working on assembling the desks, let the kids come in and they were totally excited, sat down and they started moving all around, and I’m thinking, ‘Oh, is this what I’m going to see?’  But Monday was their first full day with the furniture and everything just worked out great.  There was no bumper cars or spinning around.  I was nervous about that at first, but now I’m feeling good.”Three 5th grade girls read at new desks

Principal Kelly House

“Having movable spaces is really an important part of sort of restructuring our thinking around what does it mean for students to own a space and what does it mean for students to make choices about how they best learn and the spaces that help them do that.  So I think it’s really exciting to get to move into a new place and see how kids utilize the furniture and create those spaces for themselves.  I think it’s going to be a really powerful and empowering for our kids and I think it’s going to lead to better teaching and learning.”

On the classroom offering different learning environments-  “Any time you can give kids choices and flexibility and options, it increases their engagement, it increases their happiness, it increases their motivation, and it helps them to stay focused.”

“Seeing them in there today, sort of situated and they’re doing a reading block, and there are kids reading in the little wavy couches, and there are kids in all different areas of the room using the room how it works for them.  So I think this is going to be a permanent shift in how they’re thinking about what helps them learn best.”

On how the room works well with technology-  “Having furniture that moves, allows us to make sort of areas or collaborative spaces for students to work using technology in ways that you wouldn’t be able to do with furniture that’s stuck in place.”5th graders sitting in colorful chairs at new desks reading

5th Grader Luke

“I like it, it’s comfy.  The chairs can roll so you can move more easily and like how we don’t have to open up our desk anymore, we can just go under our chairs and grab our stuff.”

On tech in the classroom-  “We have plugs so we can plug in our computers and we have a whole computer table.”5th grade boys lie on a wavy couch reading books

5th Grader Evelyn-

“I really like it.  I think it’s really cool that it’s on wheels. I think it’s a lot easier to move around in them and if you need to change the formation of the desks it’s a lot easier.  The chairs by the couch are really cool and the wavy thing is really fun.”Teacher Ralph Carnegie talks with a 5th grader

5th Grader Ayden-  “I think it’s awesome.  It’s really comfortable to read on, it’s not distracting.  The new desks kind of roll, which you can lock in, and they’re easy to work at.”

Ayden on how furniture is set up for technology-  “Since we have a little technology table we have areas we have chrome books at a certain table that four people can work at.  We have outlets that we can plug in and charge stuff.”5th graders sitting at colorful chairs reading at new desks

5th Grader Grace-

“I was really surprised and I just like the furniture.  We used to, if we wanted to change tables, we had to move the desks and our chairs and now that the table has like little wheels, it will be easier.  And now there is more furniture, like if you want to read you can go in the corner of the classroom and sit down and start reading and it’s much comfier.”Two 5th graders reading on stools next to a couch

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