Innovative classrooms are the focus of Schoolpower’s upcoming fund-a-need goal, intended to give a kick-start to a recent Laguna Beach district initiative.
In Carrie Denton’s environmental sciences lab, which serves as Laguna Beach High School’s first test site, there is no front of the classroom. Denton’s lessons are fluid, creative and lively as two 80-inch monitors on opposite walls and wheeled desks allow students’ attention, bodies, study groups and class discussions to shift. “Collaboration of students is very easy,” Denton says. “I can move students if I need to during a lesson. This environment allows the students to be successful,” says a statement from Schoolpower, the local education foundation that provides funding to enrich local public schools.
The effort to reimagine the classroom is called the 4Cs learning environment, an abbreviation for creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication. SchoolPower’s partnership means as many as 12 classrooms could be transformed by the fall to include mobile furniture, audio systems and large monitors, the statement says.
Mike Morrison, LBUSD’s chief technology officer, says that modernizing the classroom is crucial in preparing students.
In the last year, a 4CLE committee has researched the critical link between the school environment and how our children learn. The group has also studied how design can best improve education. “The teachers want this,” says Morrison. “They have been involved in the planning, and are asking for it.”
SchoolPower’s annual Fund-a-Need program is designed to put the district’s vision into action. “The reality of a school system is that it cannot fund every important educational resource,” says Tom Motherway, president of SchoolPower. “Fund-a-Need makes a direct impact in Laguna Beach classrooms every year. It’s an extraordinary gift from a very supportive community.”
Denton believes that her new classroom has made her teaching more effective. Last year’s assignment made with poster board, cut-out photos and markers is now created on Google Presentation and shared from laptop to large monitor, similar to how a project is communicated in a business meeting. “These are life skills they are learning,” Denton says.
A random polling of Denton’s students indicates that the mobility of the 4Cs Learning Environment is inspiring. “This is spontaneous and works incredibly well,” says freshman John Foley. “And these chairs are super comfortable. You’ve got to try them.”
Reaching this Fund-a-Need’s goal depends on a generous community. To see SchoolPower’s Fund-a-Need video and for more information, visit www.lbschoolpower.org.