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how the right design can inspire positive change.

It took 10 teachers, some extensive research and the creation of key over-arching design principles to successfully refurbish 20 classrooms at Singapore American Middle School

Students can choose to sit or stand at high tables.

“One of the things that we identified is that we needed more flexible learning spaces” explains Middle School Deputy Principal Chris Raymaakers. “We thought about flexibility within in a classroom, but also between classrooms, so we began talking about knocking down walls." Furniture was obviously another part of the puzzle to complete the whole picture and, as Chris expands, the design needed to incorporate the overarching ‘flexibility’ theme. “We wanted hard and soft furniture, some different shapes, different heights, different spaces “caves” etc. but we wanted the furniture to go all together in a modular way."

Soft furnishings were purposefully selected and in the school colours of red and blue to mix with the natural environment.

One of the design principles that emerged from the work the school undertook with the architect was making a connection to the outdoors. As a result, the chosen colour palette with its woodgrain, greens and blues was reflective of the surrounding environment. Chris shares that modularity was also an important feature in the design, “what we were looking for was pieces that could go together in lots of different ways, and that we could move around really easily”.

"whiteboard tables might actually change how you think about doing math problems."

Chris Raymaakers - Middle School Deputy Principal at Singapore American School.

Whiteboard tables have become a classroom favourite for visible learning, transforming teaching practices.

Whiteboards are the star of the spaces, with both students and teachers embracing their use for visible thinking. Maths lessons are a great example - using these surfaces has actually changed lesson structure. Workings on a whiteboard table can become a gallery walk where different groups of students, or a teacher, can walk around and observe what other groups have done. “They’ve done it in English class with mind mapping and brainstorming," enthuses Chris, “and so many teachers said, 'thank you so much, that has totally changed how I do things.'”

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