Classroom Crashers surprises two teachers over the summer.

A couple dozen people wait quietly in a classroom at Houston High School. Many of them had devoted summer hours volunteering for the project. Others were there to simply view the spectacle.

Human Geography teacher Michael Robinson held his hands over his eyes as Superintendent Jason Manuel escorted him through the doorway. On the count of three the crowd erupted into a rehearsed, “Crash my classroom!”

In an HGTV type of renovation, his classroom had been given a surprise 21st century makeover. Now, Robinson’s classroom, along with another winner this summer, will teach in spaces meant to exemplify the type of environment that Germantown Municipal Schools are moving to in the coming years.

A contest, GMSD’s Crash My Classroom, was advertised to every teacher in the district. Of the several applications received, Robinson demonstrated a commanding knowledge of a research based 21st century classroom with detailed floor plans to include flexible seating, ease of moveable stations for individualized learning, and specific examples of cutting edge technologies and products.

A selection committee made of district staff, board members, and community volunteers chose the winning designs. To the degree allowable and thanks to some of our sponsors, these teachers’ “dream classrooms” have been created from those plans.

In addition to the newly purchased furniture and technology, a dedicated volunteer team also worked in each classroom. Each team has worked throughout the summer months to paint, refurbish, and perform manual labor in achieving the end results.

Robinson’s design displayed evidence of research and ways to practically implement the ideas into his classroom.

His room first received a fresh coat of paint—blue, as he cited in his application, has a positive effect on the learning environment. As he works often with different groupings his traditional student desks were replaced with Steelcase Nodes. The Nodes allow students to rotate and move freely during class. Robinson’s own desk was replaced with a mobile teaching center on wheels.

He also received glass whiteboards to update his traditional chalkboards and an oversized touchscreen television for collaborative student work. Adding aesthetic appeal, his classroom models a replacement of the standard VCT tiles for laminate wood flooring. The new floors add old world charm to the tech-savvy environment.

The back corners of the room feature two new collaborative areas with bistro tables and chairs, modern office furniture and a privacy screen. The classroom also received some additional standing desks for high school students who prefer not to sit during instruction.

In Joy Lustig’s room, the walls have been painted to reflect some research to suggest that a light hue of blue increases a positive learning environment. Her new teacher’s desk doubles as a moving work station with podium that can roll to any location as she works with students.

New VCT tile has been laid to eradicate a section of carpet, adding flexibility to the space. A cloud formation couch system has been added to the area around the Promethean touch screen at one end of the room. Chalkboards have been replaced with whiteboards and rolling glass boards. Several storage units have been added to make the science materials much accessible to students.

Her class library, which includes more than 2,000 books have been cataloged and electronically tagged to increase ease of students’ selections and encourage more reading. A large screen TV with AppleTV have been added to create three focal points in the room. From the large screen TV, students can collaboratively work on digital projects.

Coat racks were placed more efficiently on one wall to create ample storage for backpacks and other belongings. In addition to all of these wonderful upgrades, the most significant purchase includes 25 student iPads to be kept in the room for use with electronic textbooks and other digital learning applications.

Traditional student desks have been replaced with a class set of Steelcase Nodes—a mobile and cutting edge version of a student desk. There are also new standing desks for students who prefer to stand while they work.

You can read all about the changes in her room in this article in the Commercial Appeal. OR, watch an ABC 24 interview with Mrs. Lustig and a few of her students about the change by clicking here.
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