Keystone Oaks School District Administration is changing the designs of the classroom during the school year to help change the learning environment by setting up a mini-grant, giving students a place to express themselves and learn in an environment they feel comfortable in.
Classroom designs have changed over the years. Schools have had desks with chairs in rows, and the wall colors were always white. The Keystone Oaks School District Director of Curriculum, Dr. Shannon Varley, has helped set up a mini-grant for teachers to redesign their classrooms to improve student learning.
This is the 2nd year they did the room design grants. Right now it is voluntarily, teachers submit in a proposal on why they want their classrooms redesigned. They pick teachers whose rooms are used more and give them the grant. The purpose of the grant is to improve classroom learning environments to support student learning. Requested allocations may not exceed $3,000 (depending on requested amounts).
“We want to make the classrooms more inviting, engaging and flexible for students. So that they're appealing It’s nice because teachers get a hand in designing their own room and what they want it to look like,” stated Dr.Varley.
Dr. Varley even said that 19 teachers applied last year but they only granted 11 because of the budget. The first year it was mainly for 1 school, now it's for the whole district. They're not only trying to change the classrooms but also different parts of the school like the library. The library was a different grant. They changed the furniture in the library making it more colorful so students would want to come and read in there. They are going to be wiping out the wall next to the courtyard and putting in French doors so the library would expand outside and students can go read in the courtyard if they wanted to.
Ms. Smykal, an English teacher at the district, who got the grant stated her own views on the new classroom designs.
“I love the new classroom. I think it's less intimidating for students and it makes them feel more comfortable. It's a great way to enhance collaborative learning.”
She also said that there are always learning trends. The trend now is collaborative learning and that it's more student-centered. Another project they are planning to do is down in the basement where they are lockers, they are planning to take some of the lockers out and put in a student lounge with colorful chairs and tables.
“I think it makes it more comfortable for kids with the different kinds of furniture,” Stated Dr. Varley.
Keystone Oaks is looking for more ways to enhance the learning environment for students.