Äldre elever i ett klassrum med höj- och sänkbara StandUp Skola elevbord.

What’s the best way of furnishing a classroom using ActiveS School furniture?

Forward-thinking schools of today are to a large extent defined by their ability to create innovative, dynamic and enriching learning environments. The way in which we furnish our classrooms plays a significant role in how the pupils experience and relate to the room, but it also affects their social behaviour. A great deal of research is currently being undertaken into how our surroundings affect our mental health. Throughout our history, the way in which we read and code locations and spaces has been important for our survival. Generally, we can say that we perform best in environments that challenge our minds to an appropriate degree.

Below are a few examples of how classrooms can be furnished, as well as tips and suggestions that may be just the right solution for your particular classroom. The teacher knows their own classroom best of all, and of course you have to bear in mind the number of pupils, the room size, pupils’ ages, etc. It is vital that pupils should be involved in and gain an understanding of why and how they should stand or sit at a ActiveS School school desk in order to derive optimum ergonomic benefit. A study has shown that their surroundings can affect pupil performance in standardised tests by up to 15%. Careful consideration of how a classroom might be furnished can have a number of benefits.

Depending on what outcomes you want to achieve with your intended furnishing plan, you can position the desks in different ways. Positioning our standing desks in small groups will promote social interaction, whereas desks positioned along a wall will reduce the amount of discussion and conversation. Because the desks are easily moved around, this allows users the possibility of adapting the layout to the contents, aims and purpose of a given teaching session.

U-shape

A U-shaped formation increases pupil participation. It results in more discussion, more questions being asked and a general increase in pupil involvement. There is greater pupil-to-pupil interaction as well as between teacher and pupil. In this layout, you may also find that there is a greater degree of eye contact. It is extremely useful if someone has to speak, report on something or give an account. In a class where the atmosphere within the pupil body is unsettled, the U-shaped formation works well. This formation makes it easy for the teacher to maintain contact with all pupils, at the same time as ensuring that pupils who require greater attention receive it. It is also a good layout where teaching sessions start and end at the same time. We have a nice addition in the form of desk screens for work involving focused concentration, and the possibility of switching between standing and sitting positions will become a natural feature of the work.

Rows

Positioning standing desks in rows encourages pupils to work more independently. Using this formation, it is generally easier to increase the distance between the desks, which can be a help when more focused concentration is needed. Similarly, the spacing between desks can make it easier for them to read each other’s facial expressions and gestures. It can help a pupil with problems identify an expression of sympathy, etc. A gap of around one metre is generally enough for pupils to be able to communicate easily in this way with each other. In this situation, we don’t need to keep moving our gaze from one to the other to get an overall picture. Because the pupils have a gap between them, they do not affect those around them so much, and the pupils can choose whether to sit or stand. This formation suits homework run-throughs, reporting, working alone, etc.

Activity-based

In classrooms where the learning environment is built around an activity-based approach, the desks work particularly well. Generally, the desks are then best set out in a corner. In certain cases, the other desks in the room can be ordinary desks or tables. In the ActiveS corner, the pupils can then take it in turns to use the standing desks as an alternative to natural movement. This is a good layout for individual work, based on e.g. a work scheme. Research shows that after 30 minutes spent sitting down without moving, the brain enters a state of rest. The body signals it is ready for a break and recovery, and our ability to concentrate is reduced. By standing up at regular intervals you release new energy, allowing your concentration to increase once again. When working at ActiveS desks, it is very important to talk to your pupils about the physical feelings associated with standing up and sitting down. You should explain why we need to engage in movement and what happens in our brains and bodies when we stand up. By creating this kind of awareness among our pupils, we increase their confidence in their own abilities and help them see that they can influence the way they learn and feel on their own.

Group

For group work and workshops, the height-adjustable desks are laid out in groups. They make cooperative tasks easier, increase participation and provide a good environment for collective learning. If we are proactive in creating good relationships in a positive learning environment, our brains are able to relax and recover, resulting in greater creativity and success in solving problems. This formation is a very good layout when pupils have to practise things together and explain their reasoning to each other. It becomes a natural space to express oneself verbally and provides good training in standing and talking together as a small group.

In our proposals we have drawn lessons from the schools that have already furnished with the StandUp School student desk and enlisted help from Hjältebolaget and Linda BellvikLinda is engaged in entrepreneurial learning which stimulates curiosity and self-confidence, and she is an expert in producing work environments and climates where the brain works best. Linda has been creating effective learning environments in schools for several years, and has developed different environments in workplaces throughout Sweden – always based on our most important raw material: the brain.

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