Fourth Grade Furniture Project

Designers and decision makers

Olivia, Evie, Bianca walk from the front left corner of the classroom to the edge of the large touchscreen, counting out the floor tiles, and again to the other side of the screen.

The group gathers around an oversized piece of graph paper that represents their classroom. Counting squares, they draw the touchscreen in the exact right spot.

No furniture in front of the screen, they agree. “Let’s put couch ten feet away.”

Meadow Pond Elementary’s fourth graders are engrossed in a big, exciting project. Working in groups of three and four, they are redesigning their classroom to include comfy spaces for reading, worktables they can write on, and standing desks they can gather around. The project involves research, creativity, collaboration and a lot of math.

Checking out the furniture Across the Hall

The students were excited even before they started working on the project because Jason Briggs and Mark Grossmann’s fifth grade classes across the hall already had flexible furniture. Walking by, the fourth graders would see students working on high tables, reading on bean bag chairs and collaborating on couches.

Was it as good as it looked?

Phase One: Research

The fourth grade teams began by interviewing three fifth graders and a teacher about what they liked and what they didn’t like about the flexible furniture. They used a Furniture Project Workbook to note what they learned.

They also sat on all of the furniture.

“We need a lot of desks,” said one student. “Mr. Briggs said we don’t want to be sitting at couches during science; you don’t want to work with your iPad on your lap.”

Phase three: the reveal!

On a Thursday afternoon before a long weekend, the fourth graders gathered in the common space to share their design ideas.

Each group highlighted key features of their floor plan.

Olivia said she is excited to choose where to sit every day. Other students are excited about white board desks and comfy couches. “We chose a Half Moon table because one student can sit in the cutout and teach other students,” said one group.

Best of all, the students know, this isn’t a “project.” It’s real work.

“I’m turning these designs in to Principal Ashlyn Field today,” said Hoaglund. “Our classrooms are being redesigned this year and Principal Field is going to use your work to make her decisions.”