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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

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