The L’Ouverture Career Explorations and Technology Magnet School in Wichita, Kansas, recently completed a major classroom renovation project with School Specialty to outfit 18 classrooms (K-5) with innovative furniture and media technology solutions. This was part of a push by the Wichita Public Schools District to create a forward-thinking, more flexible and collaborative environment for 21st century learning.
The initial project began in May 2016, with School Specialty and its Projects by Design (PbD) group working closely with L’Ouverture Elementary to model two classrooms for the second and fifth grades. This included installing flexible and mobile seating that could transform the traditionally rigid environment into a more modern and adaptable setting for various teaching and learning styles. The furnishings were a big hit with faculty and students, and the district decided to expand the project to another 16 K-5 classrooms and the library in 2017.
With the help of a federal grant secured by the district’s magnet schools department, a portion was designated for L’Ouverture’s classroom enhancements, with the goal of supporting a “deskless” environment that promoted student movement for learning and enabling teachers to utilize various instructional methods for greater collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical-thinking. The hope was that students would have the option to sit where it was most conducive for their learning – and not be restricted to the typical stationary desk and chair. This could only be possible with the right furniture and equipment.
After setting up the two model classrooms last year and doing a test run with teachers, the L’Ouverture and School Specialty teams then worked for about six months on plans to upgrade the other classrooms. They collaborated on furniture selection for each grade, then created a reference manual which teachers could use to select specific products (based on type, size, color) for their classrooms. Administrators were primarily looking for flexible and mobile furnishings that would give them the ability to shift instructional methods according to learning needs and on a continual basis.
We commend the SSI/PbD team for giving us the blueprint to be truly ‘deskless’. As a tech-focused school, we had this notion of creating a ‘deskless’ environment that would be flexible and collaborative. Yet, there was a lot that we didn’t know about effectively executing this concept and the SSI team worked closely to see us through the process. It has been a huge learning experience; we understand the importance of providing a classroom setting where all children can learn and one that can grow with changing requirements. We’re hearing students say how much they love their classrooms and being able to engage more with their peers and teachers comfortably and securely.
On the professional development side, the makeover has positively impacted the teaching approach, as our faculty members look more thoughtfully at lesson plans and expand their mindset. We’re proud of the results and excited by the constructive feedback from other local and national school districts that are paying attention to L’Ouverture’s 21st century transformation.
– Stephanie Doshier, Grant and Curriculum Facilitator
Supporting different teaching approaches is crucial to developing a 21st century learning environment. To achieve this at L’Ouverture Elementary, the School Specialty and Projects by Design team installed a combination of flexible, mobile and soft seating solutions from its Classroom Select™ line, including NeoMove™ and NeoRock™ furniture, as well as products from vendor partners such as Smith System, MiEN and Media Technologies. In particular, the NeoMove and NeoRok seating help students to move gently (forward, backward or side-to-side), facilitating a calming effect and increasing their concentration and engagement.
Since outfitting our classroom with the new furniture, it has been a game changer. The kids absolutely love the different seating choices; instead of sitting at their desks for several hours, they’re able to move around more and interact with their classmates to share views and ideas. Already I’ve seen notable changes in behavior and attitudes as students come in very excited and eager to learn every day.
As their teacher, I’m also able to walk around the classroom more easily and hear all the conversations. It’s just a more comfortable and open environment that can support whatever form of instruction that’s appropriate or whatever learning needs there are for all my students.
– Candice Ulbrich, Fifth Grade Teacher
Congrats to L’Ouverture Elementary on Its 2017 National Principal and National Teacher of the Year Honors!
L’Ouverture’s Principal, Greg Croomes, and Teacher, Stephanie Doshier, were recently recognized as trailblazers in education with the National Principal and National Teacher of the Year awards (Region VII)! The prestigious honors were given by Magnet Schools of America.