Drawing on current brain development research, in addition to studies on the role of sensory integration in learning for elementary and middle school students, Levine Academy will be overhauling its Fifth and Sixth Grade mathematics classroom to meet the needs of the 21st century learner.
In a recent research abstract by Dr. Jill Merritt, PhD, "social, emotional, cognitive, motor, and language development are all expanded upon when children participate in multisensory experiences." We know that giving children sensorial experiences that are visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile, in order to maintain their focus and concentration, requires much more than what's in a teacher's lesson plan or what's found in a textbook unit. The classroom environment, the seating styles and arrangements, the coloration in a classroom, the multiple heights of desks and worktables-all play a huge role in enhancing the sensory and, therefore, the concentrative experience.
In a few short weeks, Mr. Itskovich's math classroom will be transformed into a colorful, carpeted, cushiony, and variably furnished classroom, with geometric and multi-functional seating, interchangeable workspaces, an attractive color scheme, and a layout that will be endlessly flexible. The literature and research available on alternative seating arrangements point to a correlation between a child's sensory modulation and attention. The literature also supports the connection between a multi-sensorial classroom environment and a low incidence of behavioral issues. Providing students with movement during the class period, plus options on how best to situate a workspace (either from a normal seating height, a floor level vantage, or a standing position), will have a positive impact on student performance. The best thing about the new layout? Our very own Levine students have participated prominently in the design of the room and the selection of furnishings!
Classroom participation, attention, stimulation, motivation, and performance-these are among the ideals of a successful classroom. Study after study points to the role of sensory integration and stimulation as a method for keeping students engaged and exploring. Our new 21st century math classroom will look very different, but the core purpose remains the same. We are striving to create a math classroom environment that will be accommodative of all students, in the most successful way possible.
Mr. Itskovich knows all about how best to meet the needs of all students. "Everyone talks about 'differentiating' in the classroom," he says, "meeting the needs of each individual student. While academically we have the resources necessary to do so, the new set up in our classroom will allow our students to engage on a whole new level, enhancing the overall individual learning experience. Having the ability to choose your place in the classroom will encourage participation, increase attention, and allow students to connect to mathematics in a whole different way."
We are thrilled to assemble this classroom of our educators' dreams. In short, we want to recognize the student perspective, and we also want to see the learning activity dictate the environment that is needed. We can't wait to observe how our students are experiencing this new environment.
We all express our utmost gratitude to parents Jolene and Avron Levin for providing our school with this significant donation of furnishings for our new 5th/6th grade math classroom. To learn more about the research behind the new learning environment, visit the NorvaNivel website at www.norvanivel.com.au.