Blenheim pupils praise flexibility of modern learning environments

Whitney Street School pupils, from left, Paige La Frentz, Mason Moffatt, Blake Shefford and Danae Perkin work at a group ...
RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Whitney Street School pupils, from left, Paige La Frentz, Mason Moffatt, Blake Shefford and Danae Perkin work at a group desk.

Having finished on the laptop, pupils get up from the couch and walk through the connected classroom to start working on a group arts project.

Welcome to the modern, integrated primary school classroom of 2017.

Whitney Street School, in Blenheim, is one of many Marlborough primary schools that have transformed their classes into modern learning environments.

Gone are the traditional desks and chairs, as the programme prefers stools, cushions, teaching tables, group desks and couches.

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Open-plan classrooms connect two rooms to operate as one, with teachers working in teams of two to oversee larger groups.

A classroom at Whitney Street School in Blenheim.
RICKY WILSON/STUFF

A classroom at Whitney Street School in Blenheim.

According to students, like year 6 pupil Paige La Frentz, the changes are well-received.

"Without the desks it is more spaced out and easier to learn," Paige says.

"You don't have to just sit at one desk, you can share one big table and work out equations with other students."

The modern learning environment at Whitney Street School uses laptops and iPads as teaching tools.
RICKY WILSON/STUFF

The modern learning environment at Whitney Street School uses laptops and iPads as teaching tools.

The school has incorporated a raft of changes over the past two years to upgrade their classrooms into collaborative teaching and learning spaces.

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Whitney Street School principal Cheryl Wadworth says the idea is to create learning spaces that are flexible to meet each child's needs.

"You see many students actively engaging and enjoying this style of learning," she says.

Teacher Kellyann Thorstensen with her pupils.
RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Teacher Kellyann Thorstensen with her pupils.

Cheryl became Whitney Street School principal in 2016 and helped oversee the process of upgrading the learning spaces.

Laptops and iPads are used as teaching tools, and the school's learning statement has been redeveloped to focus on creating self-managed, thinking and connected students.

"This is a new thing for us, so we are constantly reflecting and reviewing the changes," Cheryl says.

Room 5/6 at Whitney Street School is an open-plan classroom that transforms two classes into one space.
RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Room 5/6 at Whitney Street School is an open-plan classroom that transforms two classes into one space.

"The most important thing about this new pathway is putting the kids first, so we're getting their voices and choices throughout this process."

Year 5 pupil Mason Moffatt is a fan of the changes, as he likes to be able to move from one working space to another.

"You can go to other places and work independently or with others, you have the choice," he says.

Two out of the 15 classrooms have so far been connected through sliding doors between the spaces.

It is in the long-term plan to open up each pair of classrooms in the school, Wadworth says.

 - The Marlborough Express

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