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Frisco ISD: Transitioning to Flexible Learning Spaces

Monday, August 13, 2018
Monday, August 13th, 2018 by Bridget Campion, ELB Education

Frisco Independent School District is one of the fastest growing public school districts across Texas and the nation. Located just 30 miles outside of Dallas and with a student population of over 58,000 across 9 high schools, 16 middle schools, 40 elementary schools and 3 special program schools, the district is experiencing a significant growth in enrollment. To meet the needs of its ever-growing student and educator population, Chief Technology Officer, Melissa Fouche, has taken the impressive step of transforming all district classrooms and common areas into flexible learning environments. With the support of ELB Education, this has meant introducing innovative flexible furniture solutions.

Before the transition was implemented, learning spaces mirrored traditional classroom settings. As the district began to grow, Melissa knew it was both time and essential to disrupt these conventional configurations to empower current and future students with personalized learning opportunities. In an exclusive ELB interview, Melissa shares what it means to support flexible learning, why she decided to implement flexible seating into her district’s spaces, and why she believes it’s essential for student success.

ELB: “How long have you been the Chief Technology Director at Frisco Independent School District (Frisco ISD)?”

Melissa: “I have been with Frisco ISD for 20 years.”

ELB:
“When did you start thinking about implementing flexible learning solutions in your district?”

Melissa:
“As we began to grow and offer mobile devices to students, we soon realized that establishing flexible learning environments would be a necessity. Since 2012, we have also allowed middle school and high school students to bring their own education technology devices. Therefore, it just made sense to complement and further enhance these changes by providing flexible furniture in all our learning spaces. Flexible seating is important because it allows students to create workspaces where they can effectively collaborate with their digital tools. It also allows students to better meet their daily needs by creating personalized learning environments. These solutions were essential as we began to upgrade old, stagnate equipment and accommodate more students in older buildings.”

ELB:
“Can you describe previous learning environments, before the transition?”

Melissa:
“Our common spaces, which connected our elementary schools, included heavy tables with wired desktop computers. There was zero flexibility. Teachers struggled to utilize the spaces for various types of instruction and student engagement was limited.”

ELB:
“While searching for flexible furniture, what factors were important in your decision-making process?”

Melissa:
“We wanted quality furniture, which offered a superior balance of functionality, flexibility, innovation, and of course safety. We specifically searched for lightweight pieces so students could be involved in the creation and re-creation of learning spaces, whether it be for collaborative exercises, whole-group instruction or independent study. Flexible furniture should allow educators to easily transition between different types of instruction and accommodate different learning styles. That is what we were looking for. That is what we needed.”

ELB:
“What were you looking for in an education furniture provider?”

Melissa:
“We wanted a provider who would collaborate with us and provide exceptional service and support throughout the implementation process. Especially since we have never “refreshed” our district before, we wanted it all to go well. The ELB booth caught our eye immediately at the TCEA (Texas Computer Education Association) conference. We were hooked after visiting the booth, seeing the NorvaNivel flexible furniture, and meeting with the ELB Education Consultants. It was exactly what we were looking for and the ELB team has been by our side since. We have felt very well taken care of throughout the entire implementation process.”

ELB:
“What elements were important during the implementation process?”

Melissa:
“It was all about communication. Before we decided which specific furniture pieces to purchase, we involved our students in the evaluation process. Over the summer, we gave our students the opportunity to vote on their favorite types of colors and the specific NorvaNivel furniture pieces that they would like to use in their classrooms! We picked our furniture based on their preferences.”

ELB:
“How will the new furniture be used?”

Melissa:
“NorvaNivel furniture pieces will be placed in all classrooms and common areas such as the libraries and makerspaces. The goal is to replace old, heavy furniture with flexible seating pieces which can meet the needs of all our teachers and students, regardless of grade level. Students will use the furniture daily to transition between different learning activities.”

ELB:
“What are you most excited about the new furniture?”

Melissa:
“We are really excited to go beyond the traditional classroom environment and to see how the various learning spaces throughout each building will be utilized. It will give our students and teachers more opportunities to collaborate and to create student-centered learning activities. We also can’t wait to see our staff experience the educational benefits of implementing flexible furniture!”

ELB:
“What is your favorite favorite NorvaNivel furniture piece and why?”

Melissa:
“Initially, the Grassy Dome Collection caught our eye on the vendor floor at TCEA! Our students will love it. We are also excited to see how the students will use the Workpad Caddys during class. We love that they are able to use a Workpad Caddy as either a seat cushion or lap desk. Combined with a mobile device, the possibilities will be endless!”

ELB:
“Can you share how you plan to introduce your students to the new learning environments?”

Melissa:
“Children in nearby neighborhoods are walking and riding their bikes by our schools just to catch a glimpse of the new spaces! They are so excited. We anticipate that our Meet the Teacher Night will feel like Christmas morning. We can’t wait for the student’s parents and teachers to see it all for the first time!”

ELB:
"Thank you for sharing your customer story with us! We are so pleased to have had the opportunity to support your Flexible Learning Journey!"

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About ELB Education
ELB Education has been providing innovative teaching technologies since 1986. With over 30 years experience, we are passionate about supporting teachers, providing a comprehensive range of technology solutions, training and information about the effective use of technology for 21st century learning.