If students designed school seating, what would it look like?
The Dynamic Developers of William C. Longstreth School identified a problem last year: their classrooms were filled with different types of chairs (including broken and damaged chairs), which led to students complaining and wasting precious instructional time by trying to get a specific chair when they entered the classroom.
In the course of exploring this challenge more fully, the students—led by their teacher, Mr. Rocco—identified a wish list of attributes students wanted in order to be more comfortable in the classroom. They also learned that different people have different preferences when it comes to deciding what makes a chair comfortable! The features they discussed ranged from the practical—ways to keep supplies needed for class close at hand—to the imaginative, like attached speakers or headphones to play music. This feature could be used to calm students who need a moment to themselves, or to reward students who have earned free time or privileges.
Following the DT Philly Design Showcase, where all of our 6th-8th grade teams presented their projects, the Dynamic Developers got down to the real work of turning their prototypes into something that would benefit their classmates going forward. They purchased three different styles of camp chair and began personalizing the chairs to meet students’ wishes. Their goals were to make students comfortable and to limit the number of times a student had to get up during class for things like paper or a pencil sharpener.
The students made good use of their chairs during the final months of the 2017-18 school year, and the chairs are slated to become the seating for a special learning nook in Mr. Rocco’s classroom in the coming school year.
As much excitement as the student-designed chairs generated, there was still more late-breaking chair news at Longstreth last year. Principal Douglas surprised the students and teachers by purchasing all new classroom chairs for the middle grades! In a great parade of chairs the students delivered their old and mismatched chairs to the gym and brought back brand new matching chairs to their classrooms. Now, everyone is sitting pretty!