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Why classrooms should be active learning spaces

The ideal classroom is a welcoming environment where students can actively participate with learning materials and with each other.

Traditional school classrooms all look the same: rows of desks and chairs facing the blackboard, a teacher’s desk and chair at the front. It’s how teaching has taken place for generations – but do these spaces actually help students to learn?

The short answer is no. Experts around the world have studied classroom set-ups and concluded that the traditional classroom is actually a passive space where students listen without interacting.

“Human beings by nature are not passive creatures, yet children are expected to learn while sitting passively for hours on end,” says Shaun Fuchs, founder of Centennial Schools.

“Simple things, like allowing students to stand while working or face their peers in a classroom, already increases their active learning. Setting up your classroom for active learning is actually quite easy and does not require expensive, integrated technology. All schools can implement active learning spaces to a certain extent. Taking active steps towards arranging the desks in a circle so that students can make eye-contact with each other; whiteboards and moveable chairs; in a classroom with grouped tables instead of rows, teachers can move around freely to answer students’ questions during class. Even these low-tech measures have reported significant improvement in student performance. “Studies show that students in active-learning spaces outperformed those in traditional-style classrooms when the same course was taught in both settings.” .

Schools should take the concept of active learning to new heights by establishing learning hubs that are fluid, active and collaborative.

It’s important that teachers seamlessly integrated technology into spaces that are designed around teaching and learning, giving teachers and students the tools they need to succeed in a physical setting that promotes collaboration and supports multiple learning styles.

While connected devices are an important part of modern learning environments, audiovisual equipment and even classroom furniture are essential to creating spaces that are conducive to teaching that focuses on future-ready skills.

Perhaps the simplest example of this is the standing desk, which gives students a break from sitting all day, heightens alertness and even helps burn calories.

In the business world, adults move around throughout their workdays, going from ergonomic chairs in their offices to conference tables and quiet corners, depending on the task at hand.

It’s important that our students be allowed to do the same: for example, they have a dedicated workspace and instead of students moving every period, the teachers move, this not only saves teaching time it also keeps students focussed. Over and above that choose furniture options equipped with USB or three-prong charging ports, helping students to keep their devices powered up throughout the day.

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