Teachers and students thrive in new learning space
Sana Fatima, a sixth-grade student at Roxboro Middle School, is excited about her new learning space. “It is like an adventure,” she said. “The furniture moves so we can work in small or large groups. The new space gets us moving and thinking. I like it a lot.”
Roxboro’s new learning community area is filled with light and equipped with flexible space, moveable furniture, a modern lab area and updated technology. It accommodates students working in groups and teachers collaborating with one another. Teachers customize their instruction to the varied learners in the classroom.
“The teachers and students are adapting well to the new space,” said Patrick McNichols, Roxboro principal. “They schedule the area based on the needs of their lessons, and the children seem to enjoy the unique furniture, which allows them some movement while working collaboratively with peers. We now have the ability to combine classes when they are working on a project or work as independent groups when appropriate.”
“We work well together,” said Caitlyn McGrath, an English and language arts teacher. “We face new challenges daily, but the sixth-grade team works together to troubleshoot and problem solve. Our constant focus is what works best for our students.”
“During our chapter on the paleolithic and neolithic eras, we combined all levels of humanities classes to recreate the Border Cave paintings,” McGrath said. “The open-learning environment was also utilized when we were researching various ancient landmarks, such as Easter Island and Lascaux Cave. Groups could be placed in one of four spaces to work collaboratively with their assigned groups.”
Math teacher Jennifer Hollender and science teacher Ashley Coccitto also collaborate by combining classes. During lessons, they are able to give individualized attention to students, as well as work with students in small groups to reinforce the content.
“We have worked on adapting our instructional practices to meet modern needs for some time now. I believe that our practice has changed enough that we are outgrowing our current learning environment,” McNichols said. “As with anything new, the team is learning how to best use the space to meet the needs of today’s student and will get better as they gain more experience in the environment.”
Gia Parker provides operations support in the communications and community engagement department of Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District.