Every EGEF grant encourages innovation. And in a perfect world, successful projects are duplicated. But the story of Eldredge Elementary School’s “21st Century Classrooms” takes this goal to a whole new level.
Spoiler alert: Rhode Island’s Education Commissioner has already seen this grant in action firsthand – and he’s a fan!
This 2016 EGEF grant supported the redesign of the physical layout of two 4th grade classrooms along with new furniture to make the best use of the new space. The hope was that these changes would engage and challenge students, better preparing them for future academic success.
“The updated design includes the use of workstations for each student,” explains 4th grade teacher Kara Ratigan. “Each workstation is designed to move with the student throughout the room. [The workstations] also provide storage space for books and supplies. The durable white-board top is both a work space with a built-in dry erase top and sitting area.”
Ratigan says the mobile workstations allow teachers to switch up groups within each class period if they want to.
“This design provides kinetic breaks and mobility so students can collaborate utilizing all areas of the classroom,” she adds.
The kids love it.
An anonymous survey of the Eldredge 4th graders was especially impressive:
- More than 96% of the students like the new design
- One student commented: “Not only fun to use, but allows me to move in the room and meet up with other groups.”
- Another student wrote: “I love using dry erase table tops and workstation to learn.”
In late March 2017, Rhode Island State Education Commissioner Dr. Ken Wagner toured Eldredge and he saw this EGEF grant up close and personal.
“Students explained the flexibility of utilizing the workstations in the classroom,” Ratigan says. “He loved them and wants to learn more about the design!”
And the innovation isn’t limited to our home state.
During the fall of 2016, Eldredge presented this project idea at the Rhode Island Technology Conference at the Convention Center in Providence to an audience of other educators from throughout the Northeast. According to Mrs. Ratigan, educators as well as administrators were enthusiastically interested in the design and potential possibilities this original classroom model offered students. The hope is that academic experiences like this have the ability to engage and empower students now and in the future.
“We are so grateful that EGEF took a chance on an idea and supported us,” Ratigan concludes. “The response has been overwhelming. Students and parents are very supportive. The positive feedback that supports this type of learning environment speaks volumes for the amount of energy, investments, and time the East Greenwich Education Foundation has given to support this project.”