Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Standing Up in Class: an Option to Enhance Learning for Students

Think about how you position yourself when you read a book, use your laptop or peruse through a newspaper or magazine. Chances are sitting in a hard, straight back chair in front of a small desk doesn't rank high on your list. In fact as I write this I'm stretched out on a chaise in our living room with my computer resting on a portable laptop desk. Fact is we all have preferences as to how we'd like to be positioned when doing these tasks, so the question of why do we limit student options in this same area is a natural one to ask. We need to break out of the mindset of what the classic classroom looks like. Schools need to adapt for the betterment of the students; the students shouldn't have to adapt to the physical aspects of the school.

The graduate program I went through at Lesley University met for one weekend a month; we would start at 5pm on Friday and go till 10, then go from 8-5 on Saturday and Sunday. Now for much of that time we were up and moving, but during those times when being seated was the norm, I would very often find myself standing, a nearby bookcase providing a perfect spot. Maybe that's why this Hartford Courant article "A Stand Up Idea to Shake Things Up in the Classroom" prompted a great deal of thought and this post. The writer Sara Cody discusses the use of stand-up desks and how one Connecticut elementary school is starting to place them in classrooms. In discussing this change Larry Sparks, Assistant Principal of the Roaring Brook Elementary School in Avon says, "teachers have to understand that their objective is not to get them [students] to sit but to achieve. For the kids, if they can improve their concentration while standing, all the better." Other schools across the country are using yoga balls and bean bag chairs for the same purpose.

Now I'm not endorsing this product or receiving any compensation, I just wanted to see what one of these desks might look like and happened to come across this one. I've also included the description.

Safco 1208GR AlphaBetter Large Stand Up Student Desk - Centuria Grey

"For many students everyday classroom life involves trying to sit still, taking focus away from learning. With the AlphaBetter Desk students are able to stand up during the school day and move around without being a distraction to their classmates or teachers, all while improving their concentration. This completely new way of learning is creating a more productive learning environment. Research has shown standing alone can burn extra calories, and with the ability to move around students burn more excess energy and improves focus. FEATURES: The Pendulum Footrest Bar: The swinging motion helps burn excess energy and calories Top finished in gray Phenolic, a damage resistant polymer plastic. Adjustable height for grades 3-12."

The point is we have to take a long, hard look at the way we set up our learning environments and consider if we are doing the best for all of our students.

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