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  1. 21st Century School Furniture Boosts Student Engagement

    Apr 18, 2017  //  by Elizabeth Mack  //  blog  //  No Comments

    school furniture

    Get ready for some shocking figures.

    A 2013 Gallup Poll, the largest survey of American students, revealed that over half (55%) of American students were engaged in learning.[1]

    In other words, 55% of the 600,000 5th-12th graders that were polled enjoyed school and were involved in it.

    However, here’s the not-so-great news.

    This meant close to one-half (45%) were not actively engaged and didn’t believe they’d thrive in a school setting or the workplace.[2] Of those, 28% were “not engaged”—aka checked out.[3] And 17% were “actively disengaged,” feeling negatively about school and most likely bringing negative energy when they went there.[4]

    How can we raise that engagement score?

    Better yet, how can we get children excited about school and the learning process?

    21st century school furniture can help.

    Read on to learn what engagement is and why it’s critical for children to have a high level of it. Plus, discover 3 effective ways 21st century school furniture helps boost emotional engagement.

    What Exactly Is Engagement?

    Emotional engagement is how involved the student is in school and how much enthusiasm he/she has for the learning environment and learning process.

    So What?

    Aren’t SAT and ACT scores a big deal? What about a high GPA?

    Yep, these numbers are important.

    Which is why emotional engagement is critical because it determines SAT and ACT, GPAs, and other hard data measurements.

    Gallup puts it like this:

    “Emotional engagement is the heartbeat of the education process, pumping energy and imagination into students’ day-to-day experiences at school.”[5]

    We want to do what we can to sustain and improve that educational “ticker.”

    (We’ll explain how later…)

    Soft Data Matters

    It’s easy to disregard soft data measurements, labeling them as inferior to hard data measurements.

    However, think again.

    Often times these measurements pave the way for hard date measurements.

    In which case, there’s a direct link between emotional and academic achievement (i.e. test scores…).

    In 2009, Gallup surveyed over 78,000 students across 160 schools in 8 states.

    The polling results revealed that a one-point percentage increase in the average student engagement was associated with a six-point percentage increase in reading achievement. And that same one-point percentage point was associated with an 8-point boost in math achievement.[6]

    Speaking of Direct Correlations

    Students in the 2013 poll were 30 times more likely engaged if they checked off both of these statements:

    “I have at least one teacher who makes me excited about the future.”

    And, “My School is committed to building the strengths of each student.”[7]

    And one-third of students who scored high in not only engagement but hope and well-being (other soft measurements) were considered “success ready.”

    It is these students that are better prepared for the 21st century workforce, having 21st century skills learned from school—real-world problem-solving, critical thinking, and skilled communication.[8]

    The Dark Side of Active and Non-Active Disengagement

    If students who engage in the classroom setting excel in school and beyond it, it’s no surprise that those who disengage suffer.

    Students who disengage from school and the learning process risk receiving citations for behavior, being held back, and dropping out, to name a few.

    How Can We Boost Student Engagement, Especially for Students Who Are Currently Disengaging?

    There’s good news.

    If students are in a positive classroom where they feel safe, engaged, and connected to their teacher, they have a solid chance of increasing academic achievement despite outside hurdles such as low socio-economic status.[9]

    To create such student engagement, Gallup insists on more meaningful interactions at school. And that school leaders need to do this with purposeful effort to create a positive learning environment where students’ strengths are celebrated.[10]

    And these meaningful interactions start in the classroom.

    With the help of collaborative and ergonomic school furniture.

    How 21st Century School Furniture Sustains and Improves Student Engagement

    So, let’s take a look how school furniture specifically boosts emotional engagement.

    1. 21st Century Tables Create Engagement by Making Student-Centered Learning Easier to Do

    The Thumbprint convex and concave tables make group collaboration doable. Because of the casters, students can easily wheel tables together during a collaborative learning exercise.

    The convex and concave surfaces allow for the tables to fit together. So, no student is excluded.

    How it increases engagement?

    Collaborative, student-centered learning usually means students become teachers to one another. While the teachers guide the lesson.

    Since the 21st century table makes collaborative learning exercises easier to do, teachers can schedule more of them in.

    This means teachers are in the guiding role more often.

    This also gives them the chance to go around each collaborative group and give more positive feedback to students.

    Which is powerful.

    Gallup research shows a strong connection between positive feedback and workplace engagement:

    Praise and recognition lead to higher workplace engagement—aka greater productivity, increased customer loyalty, and improved safety records. [11]

    It’s safe to say we’d see similar high engagement levels with students in the classroom.

    2. Soft Seating Provides Comfort and Organization—Two Areas that Boost Student Engagement

    Picture your living room couch on gliders. And it can separate into 2-3 sections.

    This is Soft Seating.

    The cushions are comfortable. And the landscape storage that’s “hiding” on the side helps with classroom organization.

    How it increases engagement?

    Take a look at what Educator, Dr. Richard D. Jones has to say about what a typical 21st classroom would need to boost engagement:

    “Classrooms should be physically comfortable for students with respect to…space, furniture, and structural organization. Classrooms also need to be mentally stimulating, with attractive displays that include samples of student work and colorful designs.”[12]

    You see, in a 21st century classroom, Soft Seating would provide comfortability and the landscape storage on the side, the structural organization.

    3. Soft Seating Helps Students Create Their Own Engagement in “Third Places”

    Because of its comfortability and organizational structure, Soft Seating is used in other spaces than the classroom.

    We see Soft Seating especially in “third places” such as libraries.

    “Third places” are those in between—not quite home, but not the workplace or classroom.[13]

    These places are accessible and give students opportunities for connection and company. So, collaborative group learning is a no-brainer.

    What’s interesting about “third places” is that they’re shaped by the students using them.[14]

    This is different from what we see in the classroom, where the teacher through guidance and the school furniture via colorful designs and comfort shape the students—increasing their engagement levels.

    How it increases engagement?

    Think of it as a group effort.

    The people in libraries, or “third places,” move the Soft Seating in a way that’s easiest to create a personalized learning for them.

    If a student learns best in a semi-noisy space, he/she can roll the Soft Seating there.

    This personalized learning environment helps students become more immersed in their studying—they’re more engaged.

    Anyways, some food for thought.

    Summary:

    •  Out of the 66,000 5th-12th graders Gallup polled, 55% stated they were engaged in learning.
    • Unfortunately, this meant 45% weren’t.
    • Breaking it down further, 28% had checked out of school and 17% blatantly didn’t like it.
    • Which brings up how do we get students engaged in learning?
    • Engagement is a fancy way for saying how involved in school the student is. And how much he/she enjoys it.
    • Since higher engagement (which is a soft measurement) affects academic achievement—aka SAT and ACT scores, GPA… (hard measurements)—it impacts students beyond the classroom.
    • In 2009, a Gallup Poll showed the connection between engagement and academic achievement: a one-point percentage increase in the school’s average engagement was associated with a 6-point increase in reading achievement and 8-point in math.
    • Back to the 2013 poll…
    • One-third of students who scored high on engagement, hope, and well-being were “success ready.”
    • This is important since “success ready” means a student has 21st century skills that’ll help him/her in the 21st century workplace.
    • However, disengaged students are at risk of not getting these skills.
    • Good news though: engagement can still happen, even if the student faces outside barriers.
    • It comes down to the classroom with the help of school furniture.
    • Soft Seating and Thumbprint tables especially help increase student engagement.
    • “Third places,” places in between the home and workplace/classroom, are shaped by the students. Students change this environment (such a wheeling a chair so they can put their legs up) to create the best personalized learning for them. Because theire feet are comfy propped on the chair, they can focus better on what they’re reading—aka higher engagement.

    Questions and Comments

    Have you seen 21st century school furniture affect students positively? Let us know!

    Image Credit: Oregon Live


    [1] Gallup: State of America’s Schools: The Path to Winning Again in Education

    [2] Gallup: State of America’s Schools: The Path to Winning Again in Education

    [3] Gallup: State of America’s Schools: The Path to Winning Again in Education

    [4] Gallup: State of America’s Schools: The Path to Winning Again in Education

    [5] Gallup: State of America’s Schools: The Path to Winning Again in Education

    [6] Gallup: State of America’s Schools: The Path to Winning Again in Education

    [7] Gallup: State of America’s Schools: The Path to Winning Again in Education

    [8] Gallup: State of America’s Schools: The Path to Winning Again in Education

    [10]Gallup: State of America’s Schools: The Path to Winning Again in Education

    [11] Gallup: State of America’s Schools: The Path to Winning Again in Education

    [12] Leadership in Education: Strengthening Student Engagement

    [14] University of Dayton eCommons: Measuring Library Space Use and Preferences: Charting a Path Toward Increased Engagement

  2. The Subtle Ways 21st Century School Library Furniture Increases Personalized Learning

    Mar 18, 2017  //  by Elizabeth Mack  //  blog  //  No Comments

    school library furniture

    Let’s get this straight.

    Libraries are an untapped engagement goldmine for students.

    They are the place for sparking ideas.[1]

    Students seek out libraries because they’re filled with other motivated students who get their work done and want to learn more. Seeing their peers roll up their sleeves and do the hard work inspires and stimulates students to open that textbook and start studying. We call this peer modeling.[2] And libraries are key facilitators of this.

    Yet the place that inspires ideas and emphasizes peer modeling was cited in a study as the second worst place on campus to study.

    The first? Students’ rooms. This is a no-brainer considering that rooms are filled with distractions: video games, sleeping, hanging out with friends…

    So, why are libraries nearly in the same pool?

    What are we doing wrong? And how can we change this to facilitate personalized and active learning within the library space?

    We’ll examine these questions as well as discuss the role school library furniture plays in the 21st century library model. And that, with the right school library furniture, you can increase student-centered, personalized learning.

    The Ideal Library

    Behavioral Psychologist, Robert Sommers puts it best:

    “[T]he ideal library ‘would contain a diversity of spaces…[for] introverts and extroverts, lone studiers and group studiers, browsers and day-long researchers.”[3]

    In other words, it’s a place that would bring together a diverse learning community.

    Traditional Libraries Were Fine…For a While

    Given that we’re already transitioning from an isolated to a collaborative learning style, you’d think Sommers would have written these words a couple years ago.

    Nope. Try 51.

    Yep, he wrote that in the 60s, a time where libraries were thought of as (scarily) silent spaces where you could hear a pen drop. And they were.

    Similar to the traditional classroom, the thinking was that libraries were dead-quiet places students went to read, study, and check out a book.

    No snacks. No drinks. And definitely no talking.

    30 years later, in the 90s, and the mentality was still the same.[4]

    Students sat in hard chairs crouched over tiny carrels cramming for research papers, tests, midterms, finals, you name it—to study…because that’s where “studying [was], ‘expected or condoned.’”[5]

    Quietly talking to a friend was still considered “deviant behavior,” worthy of a stern look from the librarian.

    Who’d get work done in there?

    Turns out many.

    A 1991 study about library space revealed studiers sat in carrels next to a window in the designated “study area.” In fact, they preferred it.

    Here’s What Happened

    1995 happened… 1996… 1998… the new millennium…

    Throughout these years, technology became more accessible.

    Instead of Y2K, we got USB flash drives, noise-cancelling headphones, fancy Apple routers, Bluetooth.[6]

    And, over the years, more students got laptops. And just more stuff (i.e. laptop charger, laptop case…). In 2010, 88% of Americans ages 18-29 owned a laptop.[7] They then needed more table space to hold that stuff.

    Suddenly, those tiny-tabled carrels that were so popular in the 90s didn’t look appealing anymore.

    Instead, students preferred to study by themselves at four-legged tables. (Despite carrels becoming wider.)[8]

    The technology boom also meant libraries didn’t need to carry as many books as they once did. The same information could be found and shared online.

    Plus, like every other facility, libraries were going more paperless (and still are).

    (In fact, in 2013, a Texas public library made headlines by being entirely paperless.)[9]

    At the same time, collaborative and personalized learning has made headway. 21st century skills, such as real-world problem-solving, critical thinking, and skilled communication, have now become more prioritized.[10]

    And they continue to progress, as we’re more aware that spontaneous moments of collaborative group learning—aka 21st century student-centered learning—help develop those skills.

    Here’s Where We’re At

    We need spaces to facilitate this type of learning.

    In response to this need, you now see more 21st century classrooms.

    Classrooms where desks are on casters so they can be pushed to the side at a moment’s notice.

    Hokki stools so elementary school students can pay more attention.

    And from this shift to the 21st classroom, we’re seeing an increase in student engagement.

    Why can’t this happen in the library?

    Simple. It can and, in some cases, has:

    Libraries have started to be seen as “library as place”; a space in which the main focus is on how the space is designed and how it’s used; people are starting to realize that learning doesn’t just happen in the confines of the classroom.[11]

    So, What Went Wrong?

    Why is the library considered the second worst place to study in the 21st century when it was the place to study in the 90s?

    It boils down to this.

    The majority of libraries haven’t caught up to the 21st century student-centered learning style yet.

    Many still have poor lighting and uncomfortable furniture, are either too quiet or too noisy, and makes students want to nap and people watch than study—all factors that lower student engagement and all reasons the students cite in the study for why they ranked the library second to last study place.

    How can we change this to facilitate personalized learning?

    Simple. Let’s do the opposite: install better lighting, have quieter and louder study spaces students can choose from, and, most importantly, have comfortable furniture.

    Because, let’s face it, students want comfortable school library furniture. It’s the main reason that determines what floor they study on.[12]

    Specifically, 33.8% prefer soft couches and chairs; 30.5% large, rectangular tables; 15% small square or rectangle tables; 13.3% study carrels; and 7.4% small, rounded tables.[13]

    Students Choose Comfort First

    And when you think about why they prefer these types of school library furniture, it makes sense.

    Like we said, students want comfort. Which is why most prefer the soft couches and chairs.

    Plus, remember all that stuff students lug around?

    Well, the more space they can spread their stuff (i.e. notebooks, laptop, charger, pens, pencils, textbooks…) out on, the easier it will be to study.

    More space means greater comfort.

    It’s not surprising then that more students prefer larger, rectangular tables over smaller tables.

    Nor is it surprising when we look into why students prefer small square or rectangle tables or carrels (which generally has a square surface) over small, rounded tables.

    Assuming they’re the same size, squares and rectangles have a larger perimeter than circles.

    Which can give off the allusion that squared and rectangular tables are more spacious than rounded tables.

    (Actually circles have a larger area—meaning more space.)

    Putting all of this into action…

    It’s when libraries incorporate comfort—via soft couches and chairs; large, rectangular tables; carrels…—can personalized learning occur.

    Students Need Options in the Library

    Personalized learning is just that, personalized.

    Some people are more visual learners. Others kinesthetic. Or auditory. (Or even a combination of the three).

    Factor in introversion, extroversion, ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, far-sighted, near-sighted—the list could go on—and it becomes clear why our education system is in transition from a teacher-centered, traditional learning model to a 21st century student-centered, collaborative one: Students are different; why would they then learn the same way?

    We need school library furniture that will cater to their individual learning needs.

    What do we mean by that?

    Give students control of their learning environment in the library.

    We can do this by bringing in tables and chairs with casters so study groups can easily position them. And “lone wolf studiers” can spontaneously collaborate on a math problem.

    Incorporate ergonomic modular furniture to give students the option of whether they’d like to sit on “the couch.”

    And use hex centers for easy access to the library computers.

    It’s in incorporating 21st century school library furniture can we create collaborative space that gives students control over how they want to learn.

    It Works

    In 2002, Krupp Library opened. The Krupp Library is unique in that it has 72% of public seating designated to collaborative space. It’s estimated that roughly 41% non-classroom study takes place there.[14]

    Perhaps there really is something to collaborative, personalized learning?

    Summary

    •  A study revealed that the library is the place for sparking ideas
    • But it was ranked as the second worst place to study
    • Which is confusing because weren’t libraries invented for that?
    • The ideal library brings together a diverse learning community
    • This wasn’t the case in the 60s…or early 90s
    • Students having more (tech) stuff, libraries going paperless, and the 21st century learning wave were factors that lead to the 21st century library
    • Or “library as place”
    • Which brought us full-circle to why students didn’t like to study in the library.
    • Turns out a likely reason is that most library designs haven’t caught up with the 21st collaborative learning style yet.
    • They don’t have a collaborative design: poor lighting, poor noise quality, uncomfortable furniture…
    • So, why not do the opposite, like having comfortable furniture, to get more students in?
    • Comfortable furniture is the main reason why students choose a certain floor to study on.
    • Most students prefer soft couches and chairs and large, rectangular tables
    • This isn’t surprising since soft couches and chairs are comfortable
    • And large, rectangular tables have more space for all the stuff students are carrying. More space, more comfort.
    • Comfort helps facilitate student-centered learning
    • Because students learn differently, they need options for them to control their learning experience.
    • 21st Century library school furniture gives them those options.
    • And, as Krupp Library shows, it does get results.

    Questions & Comments

    How has 21st century library school furniture benefitted your students’ learning process? Leave a comment!

    Image Credit: Davide Cantelli


    [2] University of Dayton eCommons: Measuring Library Space Use and Preferences: Charting a Path Toward Increased Engagement

    [3] University of Dayton eCommons: Measuring Library Space Use and Preferences: Charting a Path Toward Increased Engagement

    [4] University of Dayton eCommons: Measuring Library Space Use and Preferences: Charting a Path Toward Increased Engagement

    [5] University of Dayton eCommons: Measuring Library Space Use and Preferences: Charting a Path Toward Increased Engagement

    [8] University of Dayton eCommons: Measuring Library Space Use and Preferences: Charting a Path Toward Increased Engagement

    [11] University of Dayton eCommons: Measuring Library Space Use and Preferences: Charting a Path Toward Increased Engagement

    [12] University of Dayton eCommons: Measuring Library Space Use and Preferences: Charting a Path Toward Increased Engagement

    [13] University of Dayton eCommons: Measuring Library Space Use and Preferences: Charting a Path Toward Increased Engagement

    [14] University of Dayton eCommons: Measuring Library Space Use and Preferences: Charting a Path Toward Increased Engagement

  3. The Power of Collaborative Classroom Furniture

    Feb 23, 2017  //  by Elizabeth Mack  //  blog  //  No Comments

    classroom furniture

    We’ve briefly touched upon collaborative furniture before. But, for this article, we want to go in depth and discuss with you how influential collaborative classroom furniture is.

    First though, what is collaborative learning?

    This learning model is based upon social construct and involves these principles:[1]

    • Student-based
    • Emphasizes “doing”
    • Group work is important
    • Stresses procedural approaches to solving practical, real-world dilemmas

    You see, the 21st century classroom design has made such student collaboration possible. Chairs and desks can easily slide across the room. Chairs swivel 360 degrees. Desks come together to form a discussion circle.

    But what about the impact of these features? What dent has this furniture made in student collaborative learning?

    1. Better communication skills

    Let’s think about it.

    The shape, durability, and adjustability of 21st century furniture makes it easier for collaborative learning to occur.

    It makes sense. More frequent social engagement with classmates means more communication practice—better communication skills.

    In fact, the Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor (CCRA)—better known as Common Core—standards emphasize communication.

    There are 32 total standards dedicated to reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language.[2]

    The authors of these standards wanted students, upon high school graduation, to be prepared to enter the workforce and/or a university with a set of applicable skills, one of them being communication:

    “CCSS. ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL. 1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.”[3]

    Students are able to roll their chairs within seconds across the class, making it easier to interact and collaborate with “diverse partners” in multiple instances—aiding to accomplish these common core standards.

    2. Leadership development

    The classroom design nurtures leadership growth.

    Students can move into discussion groups or problem-solving teams where a team or group leader is assigned.

    Or, in groups, students will often teach one another the lesson, acting as both the teacher (leader) and student.

    Like with repeated collaboration practice, repeated leadership practice leads to improved leadership skills, improving self-esteem and enhancing a sense of responsibility.

    Being placed in a leadership position among peers give students that life experience they can draw upon in future real-life social and employment situations.

    Furniture in the classroom assists in this process.

    3. Types of student collaboration

    There are several types of collaboration that can be instilled in class.

    One of these is called catch-up, where students get together at the stopping point in a lecture and compare notes and ask each other questions.

    As mentioned above, this is a type of activity that allows students to both be teachers and students, enhancing leadership skills and strengthening communication.

    Fishbowl debating is another collaborative type. Students are placed in groups of three, each assigned a different role: in favor of, against, and note taker.

    For an amount of time, the two students debate, with the other student taking notes and deciding who won the debate.

    In this exercise, students get a chance to practice persuasion, an element of the common core standards for communication.

    In both of these exercises, chairs and desks can be rearranged or wheeled to the side. The short transition allows more time allocated to these exercises.

    This says it best:

    “Research shows that educational experiences that are active, social, contextual, engaging, and student-owned lead to deeper learning.”[4]

    We want to say that we are proud to provide furniture that aids this process.

     Image Credit: Teacher with students via Indian Streams Research Journal


    [1] Cornell University Center for Teaching Excellence: Collaborative Learning: Group Work

    [4] Cornell University Center for Teaching Excellence: Collaborative Learning: Group Work

  4. How the 21st Century Classroom Benefits Teachers

    Jan 21, 2017  //  by Elizabeth Mack  //  blog  //  No Comments

    21st century classroom

    While 21st century learning is now more student-focused than teacher-focused, the role of the teacher and their influence in the learning environment does not diminish.

    That said, the 21st century classroom does not just benefit the students, but the teachers as well. Teachers have more creative freedom with lesson plans, waste less time during classroom transitions.

    Let’s take a look at how specifically the 21st century classroom benefits teachers and transforms learning.

    1. Teachers have more creative freedom in their lesson plans

    In the past decades, teachers have had to constrict lesson plans because there weren’t as many ways to utilize the classroom space.

    Students’ desks and chairs were stationary, lined up in rows, students facing the front of the classroom. This left the chalkboard as one of the only tools at the teacher’s disposal.

    Now, the 21st century teacher can cultivate lesson plans that involve moving desks and chairs via the caster wheels. They have the option of scheduling individual and group work one after the other.

    It’s even possible to create more individualized and project-based learning, with some students working at classroom desks, others involved in group work, etc. The age of textbooks open on a desk in neat rows for 6-8 hours per day is a thing of the past.

    21st century furniture in the classroom helps instill this personalized learning and makes it possible for learner-centered classrooms to occur.

    Because of the furniture’s mobility and versatility, teachers can now add collaborative lesson plans to their arsenal.

    2. Less time is wasted in the classroom

    Since the furniture is more durable and utilizes caster wheels, transitions can be done with ease in a couple of minutes.

    Also, teachers don’t have to lose time admonishing and monitoring behavior problems, as 21st century furniture, such as standing desks, aids in productivity and engagement.[1]

    Educators may have more time and less hassle in the learning environment, being able to add more time to lessons and class activities.

    3. The teaching role is more multifaceted

    Now that educators are not restricted to stand at the front of the class, ruler in hand, tapping at the chalkboard, their increased mobility in the learning space has also lead to a multi-dimensional role.

    Educators are not just teachers.

    They are guiders and facilitators during collaborative group work and discussion.

    Since learning is now more individualized and project-based, educators have now become more of a resource, showing students where and how to look for project resources.

    With the advent and instillation of technology in the classroom, teachers are now masters of technology.

    This role is particularly useful because more and more children are introduced to technology at a young age.

    The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in 2013, 71 percent of the United States population were using technology at 3 years of age.[2]

    As technology experts, teachers can instruct children about apps, Internet safety, surfing the web, blogging and the power of going digital.

    For instance, pen pals via email can be a great way for educators to teach their students about email, communication, and culture—This can be a great start in teaching students the fundamentals of technology in their ever-increasing, technology savvy world.

    Educators can even begin to teach students the basics of coding.

    The 21st century learning environment has benefited educators, increasing their creative freedom with lesson plans; reducing behavior problems, hence less time being wasted; and making their roles more multifaceted—teacher, group facilitator, technology expert and resource.

    How has the new learning environment affected your teaching style? Or, if you’re not a teacher, have you noticed a change in teaching styles?

    What are the benefits? Can you add to the list?

    Let us know in the comment section below.

     


    [2] National Center for Education Statistics: Fast Facts

  5. 3 Unnoticed Benefits of 21st Century Desks in the Classroom Environment

    Dec 12, 2016  //  by Elizabeth Mack  //  blog  //  No Comments

    21st century desks

    Desks provide a steady surface for students to place, hold, and support students’ school supplies.

    This is obvious.

    But what many don’t know is how much classroom desks have changed, and that the 21st century desk has become versatile and multipurpose.

    Check out these 3 unnoticed benefits of 21st century desks in the 21st century classroom environment and how they enhance learning.

    1. They have physical health benefits

    Yep, this is definitely the case with standing desk—which are height adjustable and are meant to be used standing up, hence their name.

    Of course, teachers and professors use them for lecture, but students can gain as much benefit as well, as standing has been shown to improve test scores and stimulate engagement.[1]

    There’s also a slew of physical health benefits.

    Standing desks make a dent in the childhood (and the adult) obesity epidemic, as a study shows that those who stand for an afternoon burn 170 more calories per day compared to sitting.[2]

    While this may not make an initial difference, continual and consistent use could greatly impact weight.

    Standing has also been linked with lowering your risk of heart disease and blood sugar levels.

    A study monitoring standing and sitting every 30 minutes in a workday illustrated a reduction in blood sugar spiking by 11.1% on average.[3]

    This is especially important to those who have diabetes.

    While these conditions (especially heart disease) may not afflict children at the moment, instilling non-sitting movement in the classroom via a standing desk can serve as a preventative measure.

    2. They also improve mental health as well

    Especially when it comes to standing desks, children can also gain improved mental health benefits.

    During a 7-week study, participants who used a standing desk versus sitting at a traditional desk reported being less stressed and less fatigued.[4]

    People also reported having more energy throughout the day and feeling more vigorous.

    And standing desks may also improve productivity levels too.

    This seems to line up with the 2-month study mentioned in our previous blog post about 21st century classroom chairs, where parents noticed that their children (who used a standing desk in class) felt less stressed and were eager in doing and completing their homework.[5]

    3. They enhance social health and facilitate collaborative learning

    Collaborative desks make group discussions and activities an easier possibility.

    Not only can students move the desks (because of the caster wheels located on the bottom) from one side of the room to another, but the shape of collaborative desks enables students to fit their desks next to one another to form a discussion circle.

    This helps all students take part in the discussion and/or activity, as all students are spatially included.

    Through the use of discussion groups, facilitated by collaborative desks, students’ social and emotional health can benefit.

    In fact, science shows a positive correlation between discussion groups and social and emotional health.[6]

    These types of desks and their benefits cannot just benefit children in a classroom environment, but can also be applied in a workplace environment as well.

    Overall, what we’re trying to show you is that 21st century desks have markedly transformed from your typical, simple, wooden slab; they’ve made functional and versatile strides.

    What’s your experience with classroom desks? How have they benefitted you and/or your students?

  6. 3 Dynamic Ways 21st Century Classroom Furniture Facilitates Student-Centered Learning

    Nov 25, 2016  //  by Elizabeth Mack  //  blog  //  No Comments

    21st century classroom furniture

    You may have heard “21st century furniture” thrown around a couple times, especially if you’re in education.

    But what exactly is it? (It sounds so ambiguous and abstract.) What makes furniture 21st century, not 20th century or 19th century?

    (Bear with us here.)

    Furniture plays an integral yet largely unnoticed role in our lives.

    It facilitates relationships; we can sit on a couch across or side-by-side from a friend. The backing provides back and neck support. The cushions give us comfort. These unseen amenities make it possible to have a 3-hour conversation if we want to.

    Meetings are made, decisions are come to at the help of furniture.

    Imagine not having furniture, sitting on the ground stooped over? How many meetings would be adjourned, decisions postponed because of backaches, inability to concentrate…?

    And this is just the bare minimum.

    You see, a couch, office chair, the classroom stool—they were the 19th and 20th century furniture (if such a term existed back then).

    They did their jobs: They provided physical support; they made all those meetings manageable; a child in class had a place to put his/her pencils and a sturdy surface to rest his/her notebook on and take notes.

    But times have changed, and now good then isn’t good anymore.

    We now know children benefit from a collaborative learning environment. Classroom learning has shifted from teacher-centered to student-centered; “the ‘front of the classroom’ is anywhere.”[1]

    21st Century furniture is furniture that accommodates and adapts to this. It is mobile, flexible, safe, and functional, promoting innovation, creativity, community, and planned and spontaneous collaboration among students, under the helpful guide of the teacher.

    To delve more specifically into this, here are 3 dynamic ways 21st century classroom furniture facilitates student-centered learning.

    1. It allows for easy transitions

    This furniture makes it possible for teachers to schedule back-to-back lesson plans that once involved lengthy and difficult transitions.

    Because of the castors on desks and chairs, children can wheel them to the side to make room for a large group activity that requires extra space.

    Individual work next—wheel them back.

    Collaborative discussion groups—no problem. Children can “turn to their neighbor” by swiveling their chairs.

    2. It’s ergonomically designed

    The ergonomic design of this furniture is one way to individualize the learning environment.

    Furniture in the 21st century classroom is “designed to be ergonomically appropriate for users of varying sizes and proportions and favoring different learning styles.”[2]

    Now taller children can adjust the chairs to free up more space.

    And students who may learn better kinesthetically, or who have a learning disability such as dyslexia, or those that are sensation avoidant can individually change their seats to best fit their needs.

    3. It helps students interact with their learning environment

    Science educators, Sharon A. Lynch, Ed. D. and Cynthia G. Simpson, Ph. D. say it best:

    “In order to meet the child’s need for increased or decreased stimulation, the classroom must offer a variety of sensory experiences to address the child’s individual sensory requirements. When in a high quality, developmentally appropriate [school] environment, the teacher can provide opportunities for movement, exploration, and stimulation, as well as quiet places ensuring that all children can feel safe and comfortable. In this way the sensory needs of all young children can be met within the typical classroom setting.”[3]

    Children are still learning about the outside world; we need to honor that.

    Furniture in the 21st century classroom ensures this by incorporating colors and designs that spark positive emotions.[4]

    The movability of the furniture also achieves this, as a changing learning environment erases situational boredom and stimulates kids.[5]

    We further see this with exercise balls as seats, stand-up desks, and pneumatic tables. Instead of fighting a child’s restlessness, we need to provide furniture that works with it.

    So, what’s your take on modern classroom furniture?

    Has it had an impact on you (or your students)? If so, how?

    Leave a comment below.

  7. How the 21st Century Chair Positively Affects Student-Centered Learning

    Oct 28, 2016  //  by Elizabeth Mack  //  blog  //  No Comments

    chair

    To put it simply: conventional chairs are restrictive. If you’re tall, you have to hunch over. Want to lower the chair? Too bad.

    This restrictiveness gets worse when we think of how much time in the classroom environment we spend sitting in chairs.

    In fact, a Time article revealed that high school students who stood in class improved their test scores by 20%.

    (Not to mention, there’s a whole host of health problems associated with consistent sitting.)

    The article continued to state that the human body is meant to move—we did evolve from a four-legged species to a stand-up one.

    So, what can we do solve this sedentary dilemma? And what can be done to engage children in the learning process and reduce sedentary movement in the classroom?

    This is where the 21st century chair comes in.

    Here are the many different types of 21st century chairs and how each positively affects student-centered learning.

    1. One word: swivel

    Swivel stools or chairs allow students to turn easily and collaborate with their neighbors during classroom discussion.

    Instead of craning their necks or contorting in awkward, unnatural positions, students can merely turn the chair while staying in an upright position.

    Also, students who are feeling restless in class can swivel the chair while still being engaged in the activity.

    This is especially the case for students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), where a study shows that fidgeting may boost cognitive performance.

    Either way, these two swivel options make the swivel chair a versatile and effective tool in student engagement.

    2. Gas lift chairs

    With this type of chair, height doesn’t matter.

    Students can pull on the lever below the seat and adjust the height accordingly.

    The caster wheels allow easy mobility and additional versatility.

    Need to quickly transition to another classroom activity? Done. Just slide your chair.

    3. Active sitting

    Believe it or not, although sitting is normally associated with sedentary activities, it can (and should be) quite active.

    Hokki stools make this possible.

    The 21st century stool’s convex base encourages students to move around, while the padding underneath prevents slips or falls. Learning suddenly turns into a playful activity, where students are given the freedom to move. This movability allows students to focus on the task at hand and makes learning a fun game.

    4. How about no chair at all?

    Like we mentioned earlier, standing does benefit students in the learning environment.

    The Times article indicated that after two months of using stand up desks, teachers and parents noticed a difference.

    Teachers revealed that students related better to one another, made less extreme fidgeting movements, and took less bathroom breaks.

    For parents, their children came home eager to do their homework and weren’t as stressed.

    And physically, students doubled their activity compared to sitting in the classroom.

    An adjustable, standing desk with no chair is a viable option, as noted in the study above, as students are free to move around while doing work.

    What we recommend

    Each type of chair benefits students, leading to an increase in attention and engagement in learning.

    Since every student is different, it may be best to use a variety of types of chairs in the classroom.

    We’re not saying go out and get a million different types.

    But rather, look into chairs that combine features listed above such as chairs that swivel, offer height adjustments, have caster wheels, and allow students to fidget.

    What’s important is being able to offer students chairs that they can customize to optimize their learning experience.

    This is where the 21st century chair differs from the conventional.

    Do you agree? Leave your comments below.

  8. Holding A Mirror Up To Leadership

    Sep 23, 2016  //  by admin  //  blog  //  No Comments

    What is it in a man or a woman that reveals itself in a following? Why do people follow someone to the ends of the world, so to speak? Why will someone work to exhaustion to help another’s business dream flourish? What goes into making a leader a leader? Culver-Newlin, setting the bar of leadership in the school and office furniture business for over 50 years, provides these guiding principles and character traits of the leader by holding a mirror up to leadership. Perhaps you’ll see someone you recognize. Perhaps you’ll see yourself.

     

    photo credit: photo.elsoar.com

    photo credit: photo.elsoar.com

    1. When surveying the forest, don’t miss the trees. The workforce is made up of individuals. Each person has hopes and fears, pleasures and pressures. Each person has the right to be treated with respect and consideration. Leaders must be people-readers, discerning how to interact with each one. Some people are the rough-and-ready type, while others need guided with a gentle style. Drawing the team into a well-working force is the accomplishment of a leader.
    2. Pick only the cream of the crop. Build your team of the best the resume stack has to offer. Make perfect position-fit choices. The right people in the right slots do their best work for the team. The leader has an eye for right-fit people.
    3. Sing the praises of your people. Let the whole office know when someone’s performed well. Everyone is inspired to do top-level work under the knowledge that anyone can receive appreciation and kudos for hard work and a job well done.
    4. Incorporate the proverbial sugar rather than vinegar. Persuade with explanations rather than issue orders. Take the time to share the vision of what the team is working for and why. Leaders are able to sell the idea clearly and concisely.
    5. Share the responsibility for success. Leaders trust the team they’ve built. Identifying and capitalizing on strengths promotes productivity and pride in the work accomplished. When we pull together and pool our abilities, there’s no end to what can be done. A leader delegates when  potential is recognized. Shared success is sweet success.
    6. Trust is a two-way street. A leader able to trust the team’s loyalty and support and work ethic is rich in workforce. And the team that can rest in the leader’s integrity, ethical behavior, and commitment to the team are fortunate, indeed. This leader earns the right to lead. Hard work and exceptional results come out of this lineup.
    7. Finding a calm port in a storm. When the going is rough, the leader remains calm and collected. Working together in the trenches is the leader’s method of operation. And creativity shines out of the dark when the team is boxed in and needs an out. The leader takes advantage of the collective brain power of the workforce assembled and implements brilliant ideas that are presented. The leader is also able to follow gut instinct to go in a different direction when that is needed. During tough times, humor breaks the hold and brings the energy level up. Morale lifts and light shines again. Everyone needs a break when the going is hard, and the leader is swift to use humor.

     

    Culver-Newlin has consistently been on the leading edge of school and office furnishings sales for over 50 years. Providing only the highest quality furniture for your office or school rooms, Culver-Newlin proves that leadership, teamwork, and excellent customer service are the secret ingredients of success. For more information, call 949-288-6739. We have the furnishings you’re looking for in our showroom and distribution center. Delivery and set-up are part of our commitment to you. Call Culver-Newlin today.

  9. Are Potential Customers Aware of Your Business?

    Sep 13, 2016  //  by admin  //  blog  //  No Comments

    Marketing never stops. So what’s your marketing strategy? A concise marketing plan to make potential customers aware of your business and services by fostering interest, closing new sales, and keeping those customers coming back for more is vital to the furthering of your business. Culver-Newlin, successfully in business for over 50 years, provides you with these marketing tools for building your company.

     

    photo credit: www.entrepreneur.com

    photo credit: www.entrepreneur.com

    1. The lifeblood of every business is the Referral Plan. Hammer this one out and put it into play. Have a clear, written provision for what the company does when referrals come in. Will you take a respectable percentage off the price of your products? Will you have a cash-back policy? Make the amount worth someone’s effort. Remember that word-of-mouth is the best advertising. Make contact with local businesses that have connections in some way with yours. Explain how they can help their clients by providing leads to continued services. For example, if they do siding, you can replace the windows. Make the deal sweet enough they’ll be happy to refer their customers to you.
    2. Provide educational Brochures to your clients. Print up brochures, and have plenty on hand, to give to everyone who walks in the door or asks, “And what do you do?” Eye-catching, interest-holding, clearly-worded brochures are effective spokespersons for your company. Concisely describe the business you’re in, the services you provide, and why you’re different from and superior to your competitors. Make these brochures personal to the client and the area you serve. Professionally produced, these are a great asset to you and your business.
    3. Reach new customers and keep in contact with previous clients with a Newsletter. Printed and distributed quarterly, packed with educational information about your business and services, newsletters build your reputation as a knowledgeable and at-hand professional. They’ll keep your company in the minds of those you’ve served in the past, and present you to those you’ve not previously reached.
    4. Go where the potential clients go: Social Media Marketing. Today, most clients looking for services simply Google for information. Be on top of SEO for your business. Keep your website sharp and up-to-date. Implement key words. Get reviews. Take advantage of links from both local and business-related websites. Connect with referral sources on Facebook and LinkedIn and join groups that are about your business. Keep an updated Facebook page for your company. Be on Twitter, have a website blog, post educational articles. The opportunities to interact and inform prospects and clients are nearly endless with social media marketing. Take advantage of it all.

     

    Implementing a clear marketing strategy ensures that potential customers are aware of your business and grows your business. Shape your business tactics to attract and keep the clients you need and are designed to serve.

     

    Culver-Newlin is dedicated to serving Southern California’s schools and businesses by providing quality furniture at affordable prices. Our customer service is peerless, and we intend to keep it that way. For the highest quality and latest innovations in school furnishings and for the modern, ergonomic workplace, call 949-288-6739 today for more information. We’ll set you up right.

  10. A “Farmer’s Almanac” of Predictions for Business Success

    Aug 20, 2016  //  by admin  //  blog  //  No Comments

    Many devour the Farmer’s Almanac as the Bible, believing everything it contains. Gardeners and farmers and people looking ahead to each season scour its pages for an edge of information. Culver-Newlin provides you with these predictions for business success. These tips will stand the test of time, enabling you to build a head of steam for getting ahead in the workplace.

    farmers-almanac-promo

    photo credit: www.cbsnews.com

    1. Successful networking prepares the ground for breaking into new areas or for gaining ground where you are now.  “Reach out and touch someone.” Tap your peers and superiors for assistance in climbing the ladder. Then when the sun shines on the seeds you’ve sown, you can reap rich from your network strategy.
    2. Stay abreast of shifting trends. When the winds of people’s needs and desires change direction, adjust your product lines to coincide and fill your sails, uh, sales. For long range success, keep your business line aligned with the purchasing trends of your customers.
    3. Remember that customer service is the heartbeat and bottom line of business success. People need, and so people shop. And they prefer to buy from friendly, accommodating sales personnel. The old adage that the customer is always right remains the mantra of the successful business. Customer service is classy, classic, and friendly, and forecasts a bright outlook for your company. Don’t discount it.
    4. Provide value to your customers. Quality products and services are non-negotiable for successful business. Bang for the buck can’t be beat. Everyone is looking for it. Provide it without fail and you’ll be planting your business in perfect conditions for growth.
    5. Shine in your chosen field of business.
    • Have a reputation for integrity.
    • Be a company of team-workers with exuberant energy.
    • Pick the brains of each employee.
    • Find solutions for customer complaints.
    • Benefit by learning from mistakes.
    • Acknowledge and reward workers who stand out in the office.
    • Build hard work and perseverance into every project.
    • Follow your passion with creativity.

     

    Taken together, these tips provide the right conditions for growing business success.

     

    Culver-Newlin has stood out from our competitors for over 50 years. Our family owned and operated school and office furniture business provides superior service and quality products to our customers in Southern California. Call us today at 949-288-6739. Visit our showroom and distribution center. Our sales team will work with you from furniture choice and space arrangement to delivery and set-up. Our passion is your promise for product-perfect selection and customer service that exceeds your expectations. For more information, visit Culver-Newlin online. Furnish your office or school with the latest in quality furniture. Celebrate your business success!