Learning Demands Interactive & Flexible Spaces

Apr 1, 2015 | Innovation, Middle School News

Oimg_1744ne of Mount Vernon’s core principles is coming to life in the Middle School this year. Living out the practice that learning demands interactive and flexible spaces, the Middle School Academic Building, home to the 7th and 8th grade, is undergoing a redesign.
To provide a little background…for the past two years through a Dobbs Foundation funded-grant, Mount Vernon along with 11 public and independent schools have worked together as a part of the Atlanta K12 Design Challenge. Partnering with the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University, each school’s objective has been to bring design thinking to schools as well as share ideas for innovation.
Through an iterative process, Mount Vernon’s Middle School leadership team and the School’s Center for Design Thinking Director Mary Cantwell identified a need to redesign the learning spaces within the seventh and eighth grade classrooms. Beginning with student feedback and active participation, the team went through the D.E.E.P. process to determine how might they create a more nurturing and learner-centered environment.
As a part of the project during this entire school year, the Middle School faculty has researched, discussed, and demonstrated how a variety of space configurations can impact learning. Additionally, Head of Middle School Chip Houston wrote about the experience and encouraged teachers to consistently consider how space configurations might better support learning in the classroom. Read his blog here.
One of the pivotal steps in the Atlanta K12 Design Challenge played out late last week when flexible and interactive furniture was delivered to rooms throughout the Middle School Academic Building. One room is deemed a “cafe environment” with a variety of seating arrangements, much like one might encounter at a Starbucks. Another room is considered the iDesign Lab with a configuration that lends itself to design thinking. And yet another class is set up in a senatorial configuration containing elbow-shaped tables so students may face one another and participate in a more collaborative setting.
Over the next couple of weeks as students try out their new spaces, faculty and staff are gathering valuable input from students, making adjustments, and determining how might the spaces even better suit the needs of learners. The design work continues!
While the experience is evolving, we invite families to drop by the MSAB (Middle School Academic Building) and take a peek at how students and teachers are collaborating to create nurturing yet innovative learning spaces that suit everyone’s needs.
Take a look at Mount Vernon’s Atlanta K12 Design Challenge presentation.
Want to see photos from Mount Vernon’s participation in the Atlanta K12 Design Challenge?