The Nederland Elementary Innovation project will introduce more flexibility and variety into learning environments according to Thornburg's research on the need for cave, campfires, life and watering hole spaces. Specifically, we will add more cave spaces and more moveable furniture that can flex into different arrangements. We want students to be comfortable and feel welcome and able to engage while learning so providing a variety of chair types and seating arrangements will help achieve this goal. 
The project aligns with two of BVSD's six Innovation Guiding Principles: Learning is Personalized and Learner Led and Learning is a Social Process.

Results - Impact on Learning

During the first school year the new space was used, educators were asked to monitor and track growth towards the outcomes identified in their project plan and present the findings in a digital story.  The story was framed by the question, "How is innovation shifting the story of learning at our school?"



Project Photos

CHECK BACK FOR PHOTOS


Project Description

To develop the school's project, staff worked together to develop responses to the following guiding questions. 

1. Briefly describe the project that you plan to implement with your Innovation Funds.

Flexibility and variety of classroom furniture is the main focus.  For flexibility, this means different types of learning spaces according to Thornburg's research on the need for cave, campfires, life and watering hole spaces. Specifically, we will add more cave spaces and more moveable furniture that can flex into different arrangements. For variety, we want students to be comfortable and feel welcome and able to engage while learning so providing a variety of chair types and seating arrangements will help achieve this goal.

We would also like to equip our cafeteria, library, hallway and kiva spaces with more flexible seating arrangements so these spaces can be used in a variety of ways.  We would like our cafeteria to have more of a cafe feel to facilitate more community building at lunchtime. This space could then also be used by older students for small group instruction and independent work.  If the library had more flexible seating options and bookshelves on wheels, it could be transformed for a variety of purposes in a moment.  This would allow more frequent use of the library by students and faculty members.  We would also like to add some soft furniture options in the kiva to facilitate individual and small group reading times and also small instructional groups.

We will not designate any innovation funds for building remodeling.  The bond program allows for remodeling of some of the spaces we plan to use for the innovation funds.  


2. How will you involve stakeholders in the decision-making process concerning the use of the innovation funds for your site?  

We established an Innovation Committee that is comprised of teachers, our librarian, the project manager and the principal.  We also had our DAT (comprised of parents, teachers, principal, and architects)  involved in the discussion about flexible classroom furniture. The school has worked with Dave Eggen and Kiffany Lychock for the last few months on these projects.

The team presented furniture ideas from school tours to Whittier, Birch, and Douglass to the faculty on October 13th.  A school-wide survey was created to get feedback on all innovative ideas at the beginning of the process and a furniture-specific survey was completed in late October.  Students and all teachers will be involved in selecting our furniture vendor in November and will get to try out different options.


3. How does your project support The Success Effect? (BVSD's Strategic Plan-Mission/Vision/Goals)

This project directly supports the District’s Mission to provide "engaging learning opportunities so that all children thrive" as well as with the District’s Vision to provide "a comprehensive and innovative approach to education." In the District’s Goals, it is more specifically stated that we will meet the "unique learning needs of each student and . . . create meaningful and engaging opportunities for each child." And, specific to the spaces we create, we are focusing on creating a "safe, healthy and inclusive environment."  


4. Review the Innovation Guiding Principles and discuss with your stakeholders. How will your project align to one or more of the guiding principles?

1. Learning is personalized and learner led. This project aligns with personalization and learner­ led classrooms because it provides a variety of spaces to match instructional and learner needs.

2. Learning is a social process. This project focuses on the social aspect of learning because equipment and table settings will provide both common spaces for bigger group learning as well as zones for smaller group and individual needs. It also means that the furniture and flexibility of learning spaces will support collaborative group work both in small and larger groups.


5. Determine what your learning outcomes are for your innovation. What will happen as a result of this innovation?

1. Teachers will create an environment where students advocate for their unique learning styles and needs. (Educator Effectiveness Standards 3a)

2. Students will work respectfully, collaboratively, and effectively to meet instructional objectives (Educator Effectiveness Standards 3f)


6. Determine how you will measure the progress towards and achievement of your learning outcome. What is your plan for gathering data to show that the change is positively impacting learning at your site?

Qualitative data: Pre- and post teacher and student surveys to ascertain information around Educator Effectiveness Standards 3a and 3f.  We will also collect examples of student work and use video/photos to document the impact of the spaces with new furniture.


7. What professional learning and support might your staff might need in order to reach the desired learning outcomes for the space?

We will be continuing our training on Expeditionary Learning and restorative practices at NES.  Flexible seating and furniture will undoubtedly support this work.  Staff will also have the opportunity to engage a book study on Leaders of their Own Learning in the spring.  This will also support these practices.

We will invite staff to district PD opportunities at Exemplar schools, and the summer Furniture Fair, to read books (From the Campfire to the Holodeck, The Third Teacher and Blueprint for Tomorrow) and give them time to share out what they learn. We will also invite Innovation Directors (Dave and Kiffany) to continue PD with staff.  


​​​