Rethinking the Classroom and Taking Desks Out of the Equation

 

We all have in our minds what a classroom looks like—desks, structure, all eyes to the whiteboard, or screens at the front. While technology has undoubtedly woven its way into the modern classroom, has it truly enhanced the experience of students? What’s next in revolutionizing the 21st-century classroom? To offer some insights on this, we’re joined by educator Jon Corippo, Chief Learning Officer at CUE. CUE is a nonprofit, professional organization for teachers in California and Nevada with a goal of sharing ways to teach better.

Corippo has been an educator for about 20 years, coming to it as a “third career with the intent of helping kids have a better experience.” This, for him, meant redefining classrooms.

“We have an event called BOLD, which stands for blended and online lesson design, which focuses on helping teachers create better lessons,” Corippo said. “But beyond the training and curriculum is the design of the classroom. We had some expert designers come in and take over a classroom. So, we got rid of the desks.”

No desks in the classroom? It seemed like a strange choice, but for Corippo it was a logical change. “So, we as a county have spent billions on new curriculum and training, but we still don’t have the results we want. Maybe the key is the environment. I saw this great documentary on PBS about a classroom with no desks, just whiteboards for each student. The teacher could interact much differently with the students. It changed the dynamic, and her students’ test scores went up,” he said.

This became the catalyst for the idea of the racetrack classroom. “The racetrack classroom takes the desk out of the equation but still gives students somewhere to put their laptops. We’ve got whiteboards along the perimeter, and each student has a bar height table that’s also a whiteboard for their technology. Then, we’ve got two 75″ touchscreens and a projector,” Corippo said.

“I call it a racetrack because the teacher can simply move around in circles interacting with kids in a whole new way. Kids are more visible, and the teacher can access them better,” he said.

Of course, none of this is possible without finding the right partners that value the impact that technology can have when implemented correctly in the classroom. That’s where Boxlight has stepped up and made an impact.

“Boxlight came in and gave us two, 75-inch touch screens and this super-rad, short-throw projector set up,” Corippo said. This helped increase the extent to which the classroom was able to act as an interactive environment, encouraging students to interact and learn on a more natural level.

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