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Getting Back to Learning Safely in 2021

Posted by MooreCo Inc on Jul 28, 2021 3:53:31 PM

American schools are weeks away from opening their doors for a new school year. The last year has been challenging for students, teachers, and parents. Although optimism surged at the beginning of the summer due to mass accessibility of the vaccine, the Delta variant has proven to be a formidable opponent, causing the American Association of Pediatrics and the CDC to suggest that safety measures must remain in place in schools this fall to reduce the spread. This is particularly important for students under 12, who don't yet qualify for receiving the vaccine. On July 27th, the CDC stated that “Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with proper prevention strategies place.”

MooreCo has been providing space solutions for COVID-19 since March of 2020. Even as case numbers rise and fall, we will continue to provide options to help keep students and teachers learning. Whether in person, virtual, or a combination, MooreCo has what schools need to thrive in every learning situation. With the help of ESSER funds, schools are being encouraged to provide the necessary equipment to aid in the fight against COVID-19 as students continue to learn in person. In this article, we’ll break down what space solutions will help students focus on learning as schools open this fall.

Top Educational Technology

COVID-19 taught us that having access to the internet and top technology is a must in certain situations. Students and schools thrive when they have access to interactive technology that can be used in live and online classrooms alike. Whether it's due to COVID, flu season, or inclement weather, having the tools to help students keep learning in every situation is highly valuable. One tool that can help facilitate distance learning is the i3TOUCH, an interactive display that allows for live lessons and screen sharing. Teachers of the future will need tools like this integrative smart board to fully engage with students, even at a distance.

Online learning tools will be a necessity if a spike in new cases begins, or if a student needs to stay home because of the illness of a family member. Having a classroom at home and educational software will help scholars continue to learn. Google Classroom and i3LearnHub work in partnership to keep lines of communication open while distance learning. They can help to bridge the gap so that parents never miss an assignment and can continue to help their kids actively when at home.

Air Quality Monitors

It's important to note that COVID-19 is an airborne virus and extremely contagious. Emerging studies show that the Delta variant is 225% more transmissible than the original strain. In order to help prevent its proliferation, a multilayered approach is needed. This is called the "Swiss Cheese Model". We know that wearing masks, social distancing, and frequent handwashing are effective at stopping COVID in its tracks. But since it's a highly transmissible airborne virus, more can be done to keep teachers and students safe. 

This week, Austin ISD announced they would provide air purifiers for every classroom, which is a great start. An air quality monitor can go even further in helping keep students and teachers breathing easy. The i3CAIR  is a comprehensive solution that allows the monitoring, alerting and reporting on indoor air quality, and fully integrates with any i3TOUCH interactive display. Through ambient monitoring and data analytics, i3CAIR and other air quality monitors can promote wellbeing, health, and safety in classrooms and work environments through its "Well-being Index" that accurately measures four different parameters of optimal air quality, including: temperature, humidity, particulate matter and carbon dioxide. This may provide assurance to schools as they work to keep their classrooms and hallways safe.

Safety Partitions

In addition to wearing masks, personal protective barriers can act as sneeze guards and may help reduce the spread of the virus when distancing is unavailable. Our Essentials Mobile Clear Dividers can be used to write on and create spacing in between student desks. For desk protection, the Clarity Acrylic Desktop Dividers provide clear personal protection for student tables and can be easily attached. 

Our DOC Mobile Partitions have been utilized in healthcare settings to create privacy and added space within overcrowded spaces. With bacteria resistant, dual-sided surfaces and a light, mobile base, these dividers are ideal for use in hospital rooms, nursing stations, and teachers lounges, where details can be easily shared and updated with no residual markings left behind.

Easy-to-Clean Surfaces

The materials used to create classroom furniture matter. Having antimicrobial surfaces in classrooms can be beneficial when trying to keep furniture clean. Non-porous porcelain steel desks, like MooreCo’s Hierarchy Shapes desk, are superior to wooden desks, as they resist the growth of bacteria and don’t absorb water that can lead to mold growth. They were designed to be rearranged easily between configurations that allow for collaboration and independent seating. They are compact and lightweight, easily movable to space in each room, and wipe clean easily.

Antimicrobial laminate-top workstations for teachers will keep educators organized, comfortable, and healthy. Harmful bacteria can be transferred to soft seating and then back to people and lead to the spread of infection. If you’re choosing soft-seating options for libraries or classrooms, vinyl fabric options will facilitate easy cleanup and won’t transfer germs from cloth to people, or vice versa.  For the COVID-19 era, creating distance within classrooms can be done by creating personalized workstations. Our Porcelain Steel Lapboards are ideal for individual work. Unlike paper, that needs to be recycled or passed to the teacher, lapboards minimize contact and are eco-friendly.

Mobile, Flexible Furniture

All of the experts in education, child development, and school design that MooreCo has spoken to for webinars and research say the same thing. After the pandemic, it will be of the utmost importance going forward to safeguard not only each student's physical health, but their mental health as well. This means looking out for kids who feel overwhelmed coming back to school after months of being at home. 

Although collaborative desk setup is great for active learning, desk separation in each room may be beneficial, depending on the learning environment and the needs of each student. It will create a flexible environment for students to work in a way that is comfortable to them, and will also be helpful if distancing is necessary. Workstations like the Enroll Tablet Chairs are easily configurable, mobile, and compact, and will be ideal for classroom design that facilitates spatial distancing without taking up too much room.

Sanitation Stations

We now know that preventing the spread of COVID-19 depends largely on heightened hygiene practices like frequent handwashing, wearing masks, and disinfecting of surfaces and shared materials. This remains true even in 2021, as the Delta variant  is more transmissible than the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 . Keeping hands and supplies clean in each classroom will be paramount. Sanitation stations can be made easily from the Compass Cabinets, that can be moved easily throughout the room by teachers and students and contain the necessary equipment for staying safe. These include masks, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, and any other supplies for reducing the spread.

We're Here to Help...

Are you interested in seeing the complete list of COVID solutions we offer? Check out our brochure. If you're looking for guidance for the best use of ESSER funds for your school, check out this helpful guide. We have been here to support our community of vendors and district leaders and we plan to be in it for the road ahead. Contact us and tell us how we can help your school thrive throughout the 2020-2021 school year! 

 

 

 

 

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Topics: Active Learning, Designer's Corner, Covid-19, Back-to-school, hybrid classroom, Compass, Teacher's Favorites, Thrive

Educational Experts Predict the New Learning Landscape

Posted by MooreCo Inc on Jul 23, 2021 11:13:03 AM

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Topics: Active Learning, Active Classroom, Designer's Corner, Covid-19, hybrid classroom, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Compass, Teacher's Favorites

The Four Corners of Harmonious Classroom Design

Posted by MooreCo Inc on Jun 30, 2021 1:16:34 PM

“To slow time down, practice enjoying the moment. It is where we spend our entire lives.” This wisdom from the I Ching describes an ideal way to live by slowing down. In the digital age, however, it’s getting more and more difficult to take this sage advice. Because of the pandemic, we are even more devoted to time spent on our devices, staring at screens with fast-paced minds. Among students, this trend has had some negative consequences. Adolescents and young adults (known as Gen Z) are struggling with mental health more than previous generations. When students return to school this fall, it will be important to consider their mental, physical, and emotional health. But educators, parents, and school designers would be remiss to discount the benefits of considering students’ spiritual development when creating spaces and schedules for student health. This doesn’t mean subscribing to a certain system of belief. It can be as simple as integrating space for silence, breathing, and reflection.

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Topics: Design, Human Development, Active Classroom, Designer's Corner, Clean Living, Expert Analysis, New Products, Well-being, Thrive

Technology and the Renaissance of Education

Posted by MooreCo Inc on Jun 15, 2021 2:39:15 PM

A new era of education may be coming for American teachers and students. With ESSER funding now available for schools across the country, each institution and district will assess what is to help students succeed in a post-pandemic world. Unfortunately, learning loss caused by the pandemic may have a ripple effect that lasts years. McKinsey & Company put out findings that state that learning loss from the pandemic disproportionately affects students of color. In order to even the playing field and create equity among students, the learning gap must be closed.

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Topics: Collaboration, Design, Technology, Covid-19, Back-to-school, i3sixty, Compass, Well-being

Why Every School Needs to Prioritize SEL

Posted by MooreCo Inc on Jun 7, 2021 11:24:39 AM

As students wrap up an unprecedented school year, many families are beginning to reflect on their experience with hybrid, online, or in-person learning during a pandemic. It hasn’t been without its challenges. In fact, learning loss is projected to be a huge problem in coming years for k-12 students. But as COVID-19 positivity continues to decline, students can likely rely on the idea that they will be learning in person this fall. What that means for schools and educators is that time and energy will be needed to help students catch up to make up for time lost this year due to problems with virtual learning. A reported 15 million American students were without access to the tools needed to learn online, leaving many behind in already existing learning gaps. This is why the federal government has allocated ESSER funds for schools to spend. This money is meant to be used to help students recuperate academically and mentally from the effects of the pandemic. Mental health services within schools will be needed, as well as an increased emphasis on social-emotional learning, or SEL.

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Topics: Insider, Collaboration, Design, Active Learning, Human Development, Back-to-school, Teacher's Favorites, Thrive

5 Benefits of Esports Spaces in Educational Design

Posted by MooreCo Inc on May 28, 2021 4:52:27 PM

If you’re not sure what esports are, you aren’t alone. But for educators, parents, and designers of educational environments, it’s time to learn. This competitive video gaming is quickly gaining popularity as a form of extracurricular activity for intermediate and higher learning institutions. As the popularity of esports continues to rise, it may become even more significant following the pandemic. There are many benefits to esports in educational environments and this will be particularly important as students begin to reintegrate to in-person learning after a year in partial isolation. So how can esports benefit your school or student? Here are just benefits for your consideration.

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Topics: Case Studies, Design, Active Learning, Active Classroom, Technology, hybrid classroom, Compass, Ergonomics

Nurturing Morality, Empathy, and Equity in Classrooms

Posted by MooreCo Inc on May 24, 2021 3:42:39 PM

The digital age has brought many gifts to civilization, including the opportunity to keep people connected despite a global pandemic that required people to distance themselves. But with all the positive opportunities created by technology, negative consequences abound. Depression and anxiety rates are up among adolescents. Some experts suggest this is because of access and addiction to social media and hand-held devices. 2020 highlighted the importance of unity, education, and self-awareness. But how can we nurture these virtues in students so that they create a more just and equitable world?

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Topics: Case Studies, Active Learning, Human Development, Designer's Corner, i3sixty, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Compass, Teacher's Favorites, Thrive

Combating Learning Loss by Understanding Student Psychology

Posted by MooreCo Inc on May 13, 2021 5:03:23 PM

The last year has not been easy on American students. Learning loss caused by the pandemic has hit communities throughout the U.S., with some educators and experts fearing the long-term damage of this time spent away from in-person school. As many district leaders begin to plan for welcoming more students back to schools in person this fall, there is an urgent conversation happening for how to best help them catch up. With the passing of the American Rescue Plan, there is an opportunity to create environments where students can succeed with stimulus money allotted for American schools. But what items might help students recover from the last year?

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Topics: Insider, Case Studies, Active Classroom, Compass

Two Designers Reveal Their Process for Creating Inspired Classrooms

Posted by MooreCo Inc on May 6, 2021 4:00:17 PM

When Robin Randall and Sylvia Kowalk of Legat Architects begin a project, inspiration abounds.

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Topics: Insider, Design, Human Development, Active Classroom, Designer's Corner, Technology, Back-to-school, Teacher's Favorites, Thrive

What Teens Can Teach Us About Working Smarter

Posted by MooreCo Inc on Apr 29, 2021 6:18:27 PM

There are few consistencies we can count on in this lifetime. One tradition that seems to be reliably handed down from generation to generation is the misunderstanding of teenagers on the part of parents, educators, and employers.

But science tells us that teenagers actually have a lot to offer when it comes to leadership. Dr. Jessica Church-Lang is head of neuroimaging in the Austin area of the Texas Learning Disabilities Research Center at the University of Texas. She recently spoke at MooreCo’s Thrive Forward webinar on intellectual development. Her focus was on the adolescent years and the opportunities presented by this time of intense transition.

It turns out, teens can teach us a lot about how to live and work better in alignment with our values. Here are a few key takeaways from Dr. Church-Lang’s presentation and how channelingl our inner teens (or listening to the literal teens in our lives) can lead to more fulfilling and productive work.

 How to Take Risks

As Dr. Church-Lang pointed out in her session, teens are more likely to act on impulses. Since the brain isn’t fully developed until the age of 24, this can sometimes lead to dangerous consequences. Which is why they need great mentors, caregivers, and educators in their lives to guide them to make good decisions. The benefits of this trait, however, is that they are more likely to take safe risks, too. Trying out for new teams, asking out a romantic interest, or even getting into a (little) trouble is good for young people. It helps them learn from mistakes and realize they can survive failure or hardship. We can learn from that at work and in our own lives. What risks can we take with our professional or personal lives and hope to grow from? The sharing of ideas openly is one form of risk taking.

To create environments that support this type of risk taking, you’ve got to think big! Sharewalls can help adolescents and those in the workplace feel braver about the sharing of ideas. With a wide surface to write, the wall invites people to open up and share what they’re thinking, even if ideas are not fully formed. 

The Value of Community

One thing that teens value is a sense of inclusion and community. According to Dr. Church-Lang, teens want desperately to belong. The downside of this is that they will sometimes make unwise decisions to impress friends. Peer pressure can be a negative consequence of this level of need for community. But the opportunity that it presents is that kids this age learn from each other, explore new social situations, and are constantly learning how to evaluate and act on their own feelings and the feelings of their peers. This can lead to lasting friendships and relationships, as well as heightened self-esteem. Adults become so focused on succeeding as independents. Whether professionally or personally, we can all learn from teens about the importance of relying on community support. Finding a group of people that shares our interests, principles, or hobbies can help keep us mentally well and feeling young.

To create environments that support community, Dr. Church-Lang recommends desks or soft seating that can be easily moved into a group setting. Both in the workplace and in a classroom setting, these types of configurable desks and lounge seating encourage the sharing of thoughts in a relaxed setting.

Where to Discover New Ideas

Dr. Church-Lang says that the teen years are a time of heightened brain plasticity when children begin to think abstractly. She says this is why algebra is introduced at this age, because students can begin to imagine and reckon with concepts they can’t see. Teens become adept at self-expression- making art, songs, or writing in ways that can be fresh and inspiring. For adults, we need to reconnect with our own inner teens and take a page from their book. Finding new modes of self-expression is as important at 40 as it is at 15.

To create environments that support discovery and new hobbies, makerspaces come to mind. Makerspace cabinets and tables provide ample space for the storage of materials and surface area to work and explore. Remember when tapping into your own inner artist, that the destination is not the important part. Enjoy the process of crafting, creating, and exploring with abandon. This is how teens do it.

When to Question Assumptions

One of the most challenging and positive attributes of adolescents is their tendency to question assumptions and question authority. For parents and educators, this is obviously not always a welcome practice! But this energy of young people has created cultural evolution since the beginning of humankind, and we can learn from this as a strength. For adults in corporate culture, what are some practices that are antiquated and no longer serve the health and happiness of employees?

During COVID-19, many companies allowed work from home as a standard way of doing things, and we can now see that many are continuing to implement this due to increased employee productivity and well-being. What are some ways that your corporate culture needs to shift to create greater benefit for all? One way is to maintain the option to work on a flexible schedule or at a distance. Leading-edge technology will help keep everyone productive and connected. Smart boards for conference calls, day-to-day videoconferencing, and distance learning in university level education are necessary in the post-pandemic economy.

When to Advocate for Change

Generation Z students (anyone born between 1995-2010) are the first generation to have only lived in a post-internet era. As such, they have received a reputation for being on social media and on their hand-held devices to excess. Dr. Church-Lang says that there’s opportunity via social media for great social change, and that many activists coming out of this young generation are making an impact. Greta Thunberg, Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, and Joshua Wong are all examples of teens who are leading the way to forms of social evolution and revolution. Generation Z are also known to be more inclusive and open than previous generations. A reported 1 in 6 people within this generation identify as LGBTQ. This means that not only have times changed, but young people today are open to accepting themselves and others in groundbreaking ways. Adults can learn from this to enhance the experience of corporate culture. But being inclusive isn’t just about tolerance. It’s about education, awareness, and ownership of implicit bias. It’s a process that requires that entire organizations be open to learning and encouraging diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Creating environments that support this kind of awareness is all about collaborative workspaces where people can come together to share ideas. Soft seating, conference rooms that encourage the share of ideas, and environments that welcome people of all abilities are a good place to start.

The Benefits of Being True to Yourself

Dr. Church Lang said that teens learn best when they are able to discover their own way of doing things. Some learn best alone, while some learn best in groups. Because this generation has been brought up with more of a sense of the importance of social-emotional development, they are more attuned to their own learning needs.

As Dr. Church-Lang states, “We should include teens in decision making when it comes to design or classroom changes. They need predictability but they also love peer interaction and flexibility in design, depending on their mood.” She went on to say, “The MooreCo designs that are flexible and really adaptable are a great example of this.” So, for both teens and adults, providing plenty of options for how to work best is necessary for thriving. This includes flexible seating like standing desks, configurable tables, or mobile workstations. It can also include lounge-style furniture where everyone can gather and chat. The most important thing is to find what works best for you and your team members or students. Then provide products and environments that help them succeed at being their very best.

We’re Here to Help

Are you interested in learning more about teens and intellectual development? Check out Dr. Church-Lang’s session from our Thrive Forward webinar. We can all learn from the younger generation how to be adaptable and agile in work and in life. Contact us today about any of our new product offerings that were designed to evolve with the user, creating flexible environments for everyone to thrive.

 

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