Whittier International installed flexible furniture in its classrooms and library to provide students with learning environments that support individual needs and yet is flexible enough to quickly support collaborative learning in a variety of group sizes as best matches the instructional needs of the students. The project aligns with two of BVSD's 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

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 will also pay attention to spaces outside the classroom that are often used for learning to give equitable attention to the need for variety and flexibility there

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

The stakeholders at Whittier have spent years developing the IB philosophy and the Innovation work aligns beautifully with the IB work already at play at Whittier. Prior to start of school year, the building leader and administration attended a half day training on Innovation and created Innovation Guidelines with district. Design Advisory Team (DAT) ideation captured in a short list of possibilities for Innovation. A whole staff presentation in the fall about understanding innovation with David Eggen and shared ideas from DAT. 3rd grade students, in partnership with CU, gave their input on how they would shape innovative learning spaces. Finally, ideas moved to grade level and other teams for brainstorming of what Innovation would look like in each of their learning spaces. Next steps, designers will meet with small teams to imagine individual spaces and continue to share with parent community. 

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 learner­led 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?

For Outcomes 1 and 2. Quantitative measures: Educator Effectiveness standards 3a and 3f change in scores on the rubric and Student survey measurement of student belonging and connectedness. Qualitative measure: Observations from administrator and focus group input from students. 

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

We will invite staff to district PD opportunities at Exemplar schools, and the summer Furniture Fair (June 8 and 9), to read books (From the Campfire to the Holodeck, The Third Teacher and Blueprint for Tomorrow) and give them time share out what they learn. We will also invite Innovation Directors to continue PD with staff.