Collaborative environments begin with furnishings that provide options.
The introduction of collaborative learning into the classroom changes the dynamics of the environment and student learning. The dynamics of a collaborative curriculum foster a team approach to education where students work with and support the learning of others in the group. Beyond the lesson plan, a collaborative learning environment promotes a student’s social interaction, builds self-esteem and enhances satisfaction with the learning experience.
The most important element to effectively implement a collaborative learning methodology is the room configuration and furniture arrangement. Unlike traditional classroom arrangements – built around single-student desk configurations —in a collaborative arrangement, the furniture is designed to support the interactive learning style by removing the physical furniture barriers that inhibit collaboration.
When implementing a collaborative curriculum, great thought needs to be put to the selection and placement of furniture. Here are some areas to consider when selecting furniture to support a collaborative learning environment:
Shape and Size
Collaborative learning furniture comes in all different shapes and sizes, from diamond-shaped desks for one or two students, to conference-type tables that can support up to 16 students. Whatever the shape, it’s important to consider the classroom size and determine how the particular pieces will fit within that space. Try to aim for minimal wasted space.
Different subjects call for different furniture configurations. When teaching math in a collaborative environment, a group of students work together with a group leader to help them understand the equations. Social studies activities, on the other hand, call for larger groups of students working all together. In this situation, a larger conference-type table is preferred.
With the need to save space in today’s classrooms, educators and students alike endorse the Interchange Wing Desk. It provides a wide, stable workspace as well as great flexibility by allowing configurations in compact clusters of up to four students. Its wing design also enables work to take place in groups of three or two, or individually.
Shown: 30 Students, 784 Square Feet, Wing Desks
In a collaborative environment, students work individually and in groups. So do these space-efficient Interchange Mini Diamond Desks. Notice how compactly groups of six fit into the space and how well the desks can be arranged into semi-circles, pairs and threes to suit the lesson. Mini Diamond Desks are available in the UXL and the Interchange lines.
Shown: 24 Students, 784 Square Feet, Mini-Diamond Desks
Versatility Raised to the Power of Two
Space efficient diamonds are a classroom’s best friend, as shown here by these Interchange Two-Student Diamond Desks. They are setup for group work in pairs, fours and sixes. Note how compactly the groups of six fit into the space and how easily the desks can be arranged in other configurations (like semi-circles and pairs) to suit the lesson.
Shown: 24 Students, 900 Square Feet, Two Student-Diamond Desks