$40,000 Classroom Furniture Prize Awarded to Coppell Middle School North’s Multi-Media Lab

Dallas, Texas – February 24, 2014 – 21’st Century Learning, the new educational model that coaxes students to critically think and problem solve rather than memorize, requires student collaboration and digital literacy. Most public and private schools have few resources to create classroom environments that optimally support 21’st Century Learning dynamics. Recognizing the need to link pedagogy and technology with flexibility in the classroom, bkm Total Office of Texas, a full service Steelcase contract dealership in Dallas set out to bridge the gap by promoting a contest geared toward Dallas and Fort Worth middle and high schools.

“Flip This Classroom” contest encouraged educators and students to submit entries that imaginatively portrayed their own existing inefficient classroom setting and convey potential solutions for a more functional classroom environment. Eight northern Texas school districts participated. A panel of experts from education and technology judged twenty-four submissions. One of four judges, Bruce Simoneaux, a Steelcase Applied Research consultant reports, “Though all contestants conveyed their needs and ideas in innovative and clever ways, back dropped by Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, Coppell Middle School North media students’ satirical tongue and cheek plea for help ultimately garnered them first place.”

Flip This Class - Before
Flip This Class – Before

Coppell Middle School North’s transformed multi media lab room is no longer a typical dreary classroom filled with mismatched furniture and chairs symmetrically lined toward the teacher’s desk. Room A203, now a hybrid of high tech think tank, classroom, and upscale cafe supports technology-based collaboration and physical interaction between students. Its dynamic, agile layout provides areas for group convergence or individual focus and effortless access to technology. Soft hues of grey, brown and robin egg blue are punctuated by chartreuse, hot chili red and purple. Honoring collaboration, an important canon of 21’st Century Learning, the bkm team sought dialogue and input from winning teachers Ashley Foster, Abby Roberts and their students about how the new lab room should optimally look and function.

Partnering with Steelcase, the world’s largest manufacturer of contract furniture, bkm provided the winning students’ media lab room with a compliment of mobile white boards, tables with screens in a variety of heights, chairs on casters and ottomans. Steelcase’s Campfire Big Table as its name implies, offers a comfortable venue for students to cluster, exchange ideas and share technology.

Flip This Class - After
Flip This Class – After

On January 31’st Coppell Middle School North’s newly refurbished media lab room was revealed. Its energizing wall colors, bright fabrics, organic shapes and ergonomic furniture bedazzled both faculty and students. Eighth grader Marissa Greene exclaims, “We now have a place that expresses the uniqueness of media and the kids who take this class. There is more room and technology to create great work.” Their reconfigured room allows students and teachers to shift to settings that reflect their pace and learning styles. Seventh grader Vinny Vincenzo declares, “This is a more easily manipulated environment to help us learn.“ Multi-Media teachers Ashley Foster and Abby Roberts inspired their students to submit the winning entry. Ms. Roberts defines the perfect classroom as, ”… a portal to discovery and learning. It should be a place where your learners feel comfortable, encouraged and inspired. A classroom should offer each learner the ability to be fully engaged in the process of discovery.” She describes her new lab room as, “…an active learning environment where student choice and voice is prioritized. Our new lab and furniture offers all of these things.” Mike Paris, Account Manager at bkm notes, “Student and teacher feedback was overwhelmingly positive.”

As bkm’s second annual contest benefiting Dallas and Fort Worth schools illustrates, public schools and private businesses can successfully partner for the benefit of students. We understand that the needs of today’s students are changing, and we are excited to be able to provide this dynamic learning environment to show how pedagogy, technology and space can be integrated for greater impact on teaching and learning.