‘Classroom of the Future’ becoming a reality | SierraSun.com

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‘Classroom of the Future’ becoming a reality

Over the past two school years, beginning with a grant supplied by Excellence in Education, innovative educators within the district have been busy researching what the "Classroom of the Future" might look like.

The teachers studied what learning spaces could and should look like, as well as what future classroom purchases should entail, including furniture, technology and other elements that can impact the way students learn.

"The Classroom of the Future project allowed our planning teams, which includes district and school site teams, to get a jump start on planning for the implementation of the TTUSD Bond Upgrade projects, said Ed Hilton, TTUSD Technology and Information Services director. "We have also completed a number of 'second phase' pilots, taking what we had learned from the Classroom of the Future grant to test additional technology and furniture configurations."

The results with regard to how student learning has been influenced have been impressive. Teachers participating in initial experiments with flexible classroom furniture and new technology have noted major shifts in their classrooms.

Student successes have included improvements in how kids work with others, students taking responsibility for their learning environment and material, and being reflective in the learning process, among other things.

"When it comes to implementing flexible design, my pedagogical approach continues to shift as I get more comfortable with the flexible furniture and technological devices and tools," said Ashley Staron, fourth grade teacher at Truckee Elementary. "I am better able to differentiate my instruction, alter lessons and activities as needed, and switch one task with students to another."

The flexible design of the furniture and ease of integration of technology is leading to student collaboration and the ability to create work together. Staron says the students set up the room the way they need to, based on the learning activity at hand.

One of the most significant outcomes that the incorporation of flexible furniture and technology have created in the classroom is the fact that students and teachers are learning to become continuous problem solvers, understanding that they need to try new things to see what helps them learn best.

Staron says her students have demonstrated an increase in personal goal setting, independent work skills, and an increase in collaborative problem solving. Their eagerness for the material and learning process has also improved year over year.

School district administrators report they are very excited about how the classrooms of the future are coming together.

"We are moving quickly now with our classroom upgrades, with Glenshire Elementary, Alder Creek Middle School, and Sierra Expeditionary Learning School to be the first to receive furniture and technology upgrades this summer," Hilton said. "Most exciting is the feedback we have received from students—that their learning is enhanced in comfortable and flexible spaces, and that they can't wait for the upgrades at their schools!"

Over time, the goal is to have all classrooms within the district outfitted with new furniture as a result of the Measures E and U bond programs.

Jessica Weaver is an Excellence in Education Foundation Board Member. Visit exined.org to learn more.