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Getting to Know MiEN Product Names

Product Names

Inspired by the creativity and the energy of a technology-driven generation, a creative new language made up of acronyms and abbreviations is taking shape. People around the world, especially children and teenagers are using this language to communicate with each other via their smartphones and computers. MiEN’s company philosophy embodies this spirit of creativity and innovation, and our product names have embraced that terminology.

Interested in learning more about MiEN’s made-to-move products? Check them out by category, by series, or by space or give us a call at 616-818-1970. 

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Agile Workspaces for Faculty and Staff

Unique and agile furnishings create working spaces for professional use by faculty and staff that encourage teaming, collaboration, and interaction, but also allowing for areas that require quiet focus for task work. Whether it’s a dedicated room or part of a larger space modular and mobile furniture gives faculty and staff more choices.

Teacher Planning Areas

The age of teachers being isolated and alone in their own classroom is over. Schools are creating spaces for professional use by faculty and staff to encourage teaming, collaboration, and interaction, but also allowing for areas that require quiet focus for task work. These spaces are for teachers and faculty who are in and out of spaces, moving between teaching classes and catching up on individual work such as grading papers or preparing for lessons. Teacher Planning Areas are a diverse space that support different needs and work styles.

Shared planning areas or workspaces enhance communication among teachers as they evaluate student performance individually and collectively, and share insights with one another.

Administrative Offices

Administration offices require productive and comfortable work environments with optimal storage, ergonomic workspace, and a collaborative space for small gatherings. Creating this balance of storage, meeting space, and ergonomic comfort can get easier with adjustable workstations and task seating.

MiEN offers a wide selection of furniture groupings for stylish, comfortable tech-ready office environments. Administrators love these comfortable, collaborative tech-ready offices furnishings that are comfortable and inviting to students, teachers, and parent alike, but still offer privacy for contemplation and individual work.

Multi-Purpose Spaces

Learning Commons are perfectly suitable for teacher planning spaces or casual collaboration with other staff members. Creating individual and group areas that are comfortable and welcoming encourages the sharing of ideas while also giving teachers space for down time from the hectic classroom. Agile spaces create multi-purpose space options giving teachers a place to plan, research, or recharge.

Modular and mobile furniture give teachers more choices. Mobile desks and chairs for quiet task work, soft seating and lounge furniture for comfortable and relaxed research, or storage units with white board tops for collaboration. From reading global news updates to educational articles, researching the latest and greatest ideas, or preparing lesson plans the Learning Commons is an agile space that meets the needs of teachers.

Designing a staff planning area or faculty offices for your school? We’d love to help! For more space planning ideas or product suggestions give a call at 616-818-1970.


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Learning Zones for Every Classroom

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Edutopia.com recently published an article about learning zones and what learning zones every learning space must have. Author Veronica Lopez says there are many elements to consider as teachers plan for the next school year. Teachers can always review critical pieces like standards, curriculum, instructional activities, and testing, but should also think about the learning space and how to arrange desks, set up white boards, and organize materials. Lopez suggests teachers bring these seemingly disconnected components together in a system of seven learning zones. Creating zones can help meet the varying needs of a space and will allow students flexibility as their activities and tasks change throughout the day.

The seven learning zones every classroom must have according to Lopez include the following:

1. Discovery Zone

2. News Zone

3. Supplies Zone

4. Community Zone

5. Quiet Zone

6. Teacher Zone

7. Subject Area Zone

Creating zones or sub-communities can help meet the varying needs of the space. Filling these spaces with mobile desks and tables, chairs and stools, mobile whiteboards, and multipurpose storage offers flexibility so spaces can be reconfigured in minutes.

Are you working on zones for your learning space? We’d love to help! For space planning ideas or product suggestions give a call at 616-818-1970.

Source: 7 Learning Zones Every Classroom Must Have

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Zone Design in Active Learning Spaces

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Zone design or sub-communities in larger learning spaces are gaining popularity in schools incorporating today’s active learning concepts. Why zones? Creating zones in multipurpose areas and learning spaces allows students flexibility as their activities and tasks change throughout the day. Students can move between areas designed for individual, small group, and large group learning. Filling these spaces with mobile desks and tables, chair, whiteboards, and storage offer flexibility so spaces can be reconfigured in minutes.

Creating zones or sub-communities can help meet the varying needs of the space. Filling these spaces with mobile desks and tableschairs and stools, mobile whiteboards, and multipurpose storage offers flexibility so spaces can be reconfigured in minutes.

  • Creative Commons—An informal space where students and staff can move around based on the activity or learning/teaching style working in small groups. Perfect for breakout sessions, small group work, and collaborative work.

  • Community Commons—A larger more formal space where teachers can hold classes, administrators can hold staff meetings, and community can hold various meetings.

  • Quiet/Private/Leisure Area—An area for individual task work and quiet reading. A place for test taking, tutoring, or lesson planning. A place to relax and recharge.

  • Idea Lab or Project Areas—An area where students can tinker and invent, make and build stuff, and create. From shooting a video to fixing a computer, students can have the room and freedom to create.  

Story time or studying for a test. Researching on a topic on a computer or listening to a podcast. Learning activities can happen all around an active learning space with flexible zones designed around the needs of the student and teachers.

Are you working on zones for your learning space? We’d love to help! For space planning ideas or product suggestions give a call at 616-818-1970.

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New Zealand’s Take on Flexible Learning Spaces

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When it comes to upgrading, New Zealand wants its schools to have vibrant, well-connected, innovative learning environments (ILE's) that encourage and support many different types of learning. New Zealand Ministry of Education's vision of an ILE is the complete physical, social, and pedagogical context in which learning is intended to occur. Having the right property, and flexible learning spaces (FLS) in particular, is one part of creating an ILE.

The Learning Studio Pilot

To see how effective FLS could be, New Zealand set up the Learning Studio Pilot with five schools. Each school set up a learning suite, which had studios grouped around a shared learning area. The spaces supported students to work:

•    individually

•    in small groups

•    as a whole class

•    in larger groups.

The learning spaces had good classroom design, function, aesthetics, acoustics, lighting, heating, insulation, ventilation and air quality. Based on the results of the study, the group standardized several design elements to be incorporated into new FLS’s. 

Flexible Learning Space Design Elements

When schools are ready to upgrade their existing learning spaces New Zealand design standards recommends incorporating the following design elements.

  • Breakout spaces: Breakout spaces are shared spaces between learning spaces that encourage independent learning, small group work, and cooperative work by teachers and students across classes.

  • Outdoor learning areas: An outdoor learning area must be: directly accessible from an internal learning area and easy for a teacher in the internal learning area to passively supervise.

  • Large breakout spaces: Large breakout spaces are open congregation spaces that are part of the general circulation space. You can use them for group activities, such as assemblies.

  • Learning streets: Many existing school buildings have large corridors along one side. One way to use this space more effectively is to turn these corridors into learning streets.

  • Well-designed storage: Well-designed storage can help to make learning spaces more effective and flexible and improve the aesthetic appeal of a room.

  • Furniture, fittings, and equipment: By choosing appropriate furniture, fittings, and equipment, you can create a more efficient FLS. For example, you can divide a learning space into different areas using tables, couches and chairs.

  • Teacher workspaces: Some teachers need areas where they can plan, meet collaboratively, interview, store personal items and socialize. This can be important for supporting the way that they teach.

Active learning and 21st Century Learning concepts are truly global. MiEN’s education market experts are always on top of the latest educational trends in pedagogy, space planning, and ergonomics. We are constantly learning from the industry and adding features and products to our product family to support education and active learning.  

Source: Flexible Learning Spaces 

Education.govt.nz is the portal for education information in New Zealand, maintained by the Ministry of Education.

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Active Learning: Join the Movement

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Research is proving that physical movement in a learning environment influences attention, organization, vision, speech, balance, and coordination. It also enhances focus, memory and cognitive flexibility – the tools needed for improving academic performance. More and more studies are showing that movement has an impact on the learning of all ages. Educators incorporating movement furnishing into learning spaces are not only seeing an increase student engagement and interest, but also realizing the student’s positive association with learning and the learning environment.

Don’t Just Sit There

Students sit in classroom chairs close to 80 percent of their time at school. This sedentary schedule can often lead to a lack of body circulation, eventually creating boredom, tiredness and a lack of focus. When considering seating options for a learning space look for seating options that allow students to follow their natural movement instincts, while still providing support and comfort. Find ergonomically designed seating options like the BFF series or FO4 series that allow a student to lightly bob, rock, or sway, that still are comfortable, supportive and aesthetically pleasing that don’t create a distraction, and are appealing in style, flexible in function. Incorporating stools such as the RKR and JF4 are also great ways to add movement.

Stand Up for Change

Within a classroom, library, or other learning spaces, incorporating furniture that moves easily and adapts to the space’s needs and teaching/study styles is important. Furniture designed for movement and collaboration gives teachers flexibility and adaptability in the way they teach. Creating learning environments with student desks and tables that are easily changeable and quickly adaptable is a great way to add movement. The OTM and BRB are both lightweight and easy to move options - just right for a dynamic, active learning environment.

The simple act of moving makes the brain more creative. Learning environments that support a student’s natural tendencies to move can help to increase concentration and boost creativity.

MiEN makes furniture that works for education. Our portfolio of products includes desks and tables, chairs and stools, soft seating, teacher stations, administrative office furnishings, mobile marker boards, storage units, and power units. Learn more about MiEN’s made-to-move furniture designed for active learning.


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Student Desking with a Twist

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Incorporating mobile desks, tables, and seating offers instant adaptability and flexibility within any learning space. As a class changes activities from an individual to a partner or collaborative group settings, students and teachers should be able to rearrange desks and tables easily to fit the need of that activity. Every move is critical in active learning spaces and trends are showing that shape is also a piece to this ever-changing puzzle. Trying to create these flexible zonal areas with traditional-shaped desks can be challenging.

Shaped to Fit and Ready to Move

Mobile student desks with shaped tops that can fit together like puzzle pieces offer the flexibility of creating areas for small or large group activities. Creating a U-shaped large group set up is perfect for presentations. Clusters of 2-5 desks offer collaborative areas for small group projects. Individual tables or desks offer individual work options such as test taking or quiet study.

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Complete the Puzzle

Join the unique desktop shapes in a variety of ways to fit your learning space needs. Ergonomically designed and highly versatile MiEN’s tables and student desks provide an infinite amount of configuration choices giving you flexibility and workspace comfort for both student and teacher. MiENs student desks and tables are customizable and made to fit any classroom or collaborative setting.

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Choosing furniture for your learning space? We’d love to help! For space planning ideas or product suggestions give a call at 616-818-1970.

Source: 4 Growing Trends for Active Learning Spaces 

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What Matters Most?

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What matters most when picking school furniture? Michael Risdall author of the article, What Matters Most When Selecting Furniture For An Active Learning Environment, says that whether outfitting a single classroom or entire campus, selecting the right desks, chairs, tables and storage is essential. The article featured in School Planning & Management Magazine explains that countless studies show that quality furniture improves student learning and student health.

Before investing, Risdall suggests to prioritize which features best fit your students, curriculum, space, and budget. For many schools, here’s what matters most:

  • Durability. Furniture must hold up to the movement and stress demands of collaborative learning — and kids in general. Look for adequate structural support (especially in legs) and durably made edges.

  • Functionality/Flexibility. Select furniture that can adapt to multiple subjects and settings. Desks and chairs should be quickly reconfigurable for group learning, and easily adjusted to students’ size.

  • Mobility. All furnishings, including storage and shelving, should have caster options. Also be sure desks and chairs are light enough for students to safely move.

  • Movement. Students sit in classroom chairs close to 80 percent of their time. Look for chair designs that allow students to follow their natural movement instincts, while still providing support and comfort.

  • Budget. Don’t skimp on quality or shop trends. Select high-quality products from a reputable supplier with excellent service and sustainable practices.

We want to add a few more ideas to consider.

  • Color. Sylvia O'Brien, Creative Director of Colour Theory says, “When it comes to color in the learning environment, function trumps aesthetics. Color trend and other such frivolities have no power here. The science of color psychology is the reason to pick a blue over a red, or an orange over a purple. The well-executed color palette can enhance the absorption of information & facilitate the thinking process.”

  • Fun. Schools now are incorporating flexible and adaptable furniture with mobile and collaborative features that support 21st Century School and Learning concepts. Learning spaces have become active, collaborative, and way more flexible incorporating functional furniture pieces are bright, colorful, and engaging to students. Put simply, more fun.

Choosing furniture for your learning space? We’d love to help! For space planning ideas or product suggestions give a call at 616-818-1970.

Sources:

What Matters Most When Selecting Furniture For An Active Learning Environment? School Planning & Management Magazine

Psychology Of Colour In The Educational Environment

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Color Matters

Excerpts from a recent Huffington Post blog article titled School Design, Classroom Layout Can Heavily Affect Student Grades, Learning says, great teachers, stable families, and a school’s location have long been said to be key to student success. But a new study out of the United Kingdom suggests that a school’s physical design can improve or worsen children’s academic performance by as much as 25 percent in early years.

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The year-long study by the University of Salford’s School of the Built Environment and British architecture firm Nightingale Associates examined 751 students in 34 classrooms across seven primary schools for the 2011-2012 academic year. Students were assessed at the beginning and end of the year for academic performance in math, reading and writing, and classrooms were rated on environmental qualities like classroom orientation, natural light, acoustics, temperature, air quality, and color.

The researchers found that classroom architecture and design significantly affected academic performance: Environmental factors studied affected 73 percent of the changes in student scores.

A Closer Look at Color

Paint manufacturer Sherwin Williams takes a look at the full spectrum of color and how color choices can affect the learning environment in its recent blog post, Full Spectrum: Taking on School Colors. The blog post takes a closer look at color in schools.

Just as schools are taking a more holistic approach to learning by nurturing many learning styles and experiences, so too should this theory be extended to the physical school environment, one that enhances student learning. Spaces dominated by gray, beige, and a variety of whites simply don't cut it.

Color design, when approached from a functional standpoint rather than aesthetics, can prevent eyestrain and increase attention span and productivity. Monotone, poorly designed and poorly lit classroom conditions can cause irritability and inattentiveness and exacerbate behavioral problems. In addition to visual ergonomics, age groups, and their developmental stages have to be considered. A kindergarten student processes information very differently than a sixth grader.

Psychological color studies have shown that sociable, energetic preschool and elementary grade-level students react favorably to the stimulation of warm colors such as yellow-orange and peach, whereas older children in middle school and above function better in cooler hues, enabling them to concentrate more effectively.

Color Objects, an international group of creatives from industries ranging interior design, the arts, marketing, and media specializing in color takes an even more detailed look at the psychology of color in the education environment in their blog post about the subject.

Sylvia O'Brien, Creative Director of Colour Theory says, “When it comes to color in the learning environment, function trumps aesthetics. Color trend and other such frivolities have no power here. The science of color psychology is the reason to pick a blue over a red, or an orange over a purple. The well-executed color palette can enhance the absorption of information & facilitate the thinking process.”

Variety in Color Application

We’ve learned through research studies and practical applications that a strong visual image reflects a school community and colors play a key role in a student’s and teacher’s perception of a place and its environment. How a space looks and feels sets a tone and sends a message to students of every age. Students and teachers are more productive, healthier, and have a greater sense of well being in bright, colorful environments that encourage open thinking and innovation.

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So, we have the walls covered. Paint options are numerous. The floors are covered. There are tons of colorful options with carpeting, vinyl, and other materials. What about furniture?

Schools usually choose furniture based on functionality, ergonomics, and durability. Color isn’t generally top of the list. It’s typically an afterthought, but finding this furniture that meets the functional and color needs of any space is easy with MiEN.


Whether it’s for a single classroom or an entire school, MiEN fills spaces with a variety of colorful furniture options designed to adapt to evolving learning environments.

Considering color options for your space? We’d love to help! For product suggestions give us a call at 616-818-1970.

Sources:

School Design, Classroom Layout Can Heavily Affect Student Grades, Learning
Full Spectrum: Taking on School Colors
PSYCHOLOGY OF COLOUR IN THE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT



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FUN and Good For You Too!

Have you ever thought back to your early days in school and the chairs you sat on? It’s probably not a memory you have locked in your mind. Nothing you are going to share at a cocktail party or with your friends or family when reminiscing about your elementary school days. “Oh, have I told you about my third-grade class and my teacher Mrs. Smith? We used to have so much fun moving our desks around every quarter for that needed change of scenery.“ Chairs were just not that exciting. They were there to be sat in, and that’s what students did, all day long.

Now fast forward and think about today’s learning spaces. Schools now are incorporating flexible and adaptable furniture with mobile and collaborative features that support 21st Century School and Learning concepts. Learning spaces have become active, collaborative, and way more flexible incorporating functional furniture pieces are bright, colorful, and engaging to students. Put simply, more fun.

MiEN Company delivers inspired, creative seating options through an engaging blend of smart design, durable materials, and fun. Whether it’s a J4F Balancing Stool or a RKR Adjustable Stool, an A3 Student Chair or an OAR Nesting Chair, MiEN offers a variety of chair and stool collections ergonomically designed and suitable for various age groups.

It’s good for you too!

The human body needs to move; it’s natural. MiEN’s comfortable ergonomically designed and inspired seating options support a body’s natural movement giving students the ability to move naturally in their seat without disruption. Learning environments that support a student’s natural tendencies to move can help to increase concentration and boost creativity. Learning happens naturally and spontaneously when kids are focused and engaged.

Learn more about MiEN’s made-to-move chairs, stools, desks, and tables.


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Learning Space Design and Higher Education: A Planning Resource

Stories from the field are powerful tools to determine what works in shaping and reshaping learning spaces. This resource gives educators, architects, and designers an opportunity to examine the efforts of others with a keen look at what’s working and what isn’t.

There is a collaborating community of researchers, practitioners and other stakeholders developing resources to inform the practice and process of planning, experiencing, and assessing 21st century learning spaces on campuses across the country. The Learning Spaces Collaboratory (LSC) includes academics, architects, leaders of national societies, and academic leaders across the country who share a commitment to transforming the learning environment for undergraduates in all fields.

Through postings on their website, webinars, and presentations at meetings of LSC Collaborating Partners and peer organization present stories from the field that provides insights on common planning challenges toward achieving 21st century learning spaces.

From capturing the essence of these stories from the field and of emerging research on how planning happens, through posting, publications, and presentations, the LSC develops resources to inform the work of those with responsibility and opportunity for shaping, reshaping, and maintaining 21st century learning spaces.

The LSC has published a working paper, (Vision, Goals & Strategies: A Guide for Planning Learning Spaces), that introduces a template for guiding institutional teams responsible for the quality and character of student learning on their campus. Planners can use this document in the context of anticipating and/or addressing opportunities and challenges to transform the physical environment for learning.


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Perspectives from Finland

What makes Finland's education system so special? The country's achievements in education have other nations doing their homework and one subject of interest is the physical learning environment. Studies suggest that the physical learning environment has a clear effect on learning outcomes and contentment in school. This blog article with the help of Marko Kuuskorpi’s, Perspectives from Finland presents a number of perspectives on physical and virtual learning environments from various Finland educators that support active learning.

Researching Learning Across Space and Time in Extended Learning Environments
Kristiina Kumpulainen & Anna Mikkola

Kumpulainen and Mikkola argue that education has to be changed to meet the challenges of 21st century learning and learners. They ask “how today’s schools can be transformed to become environments of learning and teaching that make individuals lifelong learners and prepare them for the 21st century?”

Games as Learning Environments
Harri Ketamo

Ketamo has developed learning games to mathematics. He has spent many years exploring how to apply technological solutions to teaching in a pedagogically meaningful ways.

Live-Roleplay As A Tool – Using Real World Operation Cultures As Tools For Learning
Merja Meriläinen & Maarika Piispanen.

Meriläinen and Piispanen article discusses the contextual-pedagogical model of learning that connects the teacher’s pedagogical expertise, student knowledge, and learning environment as they exist inside and outside the school context.

Physical Learning Environments: Learning in the Future
Marko Kuuskorpi & Nuria Capellos Gonzáles

Kuuskorpi and Cabellos González explore the question: what will tomorrow’s physical learning environments be like? The authors tackle the problem of defining the concept of a physical learning environment and consider different aspects of this entity.

The Grammar of a Modern School Building
Jukka Sulonen & Krisse Sulonen

Sulonen and Sulonen’s article emphasizes that when viewing schools from pedagogic objectives and comfort, it is important that they are places that inspire the users.

Multi-Voiced Planning For Redesigning Home Economics Classrooms
Anne Malin & Päivi Palojoki

Malin and Palojoki’s study and corresponding article prove that multi-voiced planning can be very successful in many ways.

Access the full publication here.  

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Planning for 21st Century Spaces

With support from National Science Foundation (NSF), the Learning Spaces Collaboratory (LSC) developed A Guide: Planning for Assessing 21st Century Spaces for 21st Century Learners, a work-in-progress resource by and for those involved with imagining and planning, designing and constructing, using, and assessing learning spaces in the undergraduate setting.

Jeanne L. Narum, Principal—Learning Spaces Collaboratory explains that in the document’s pages it captures the growing national awareness that space matters to learning and that institutional initiatives to transform the undergraduate learning environment require attention to where students learn as well as to what and how they learn. The stories illustrate how physical spaces embody a community’s mental image of how and where learning happens, whether such spaces be single classrooms or major facilities, new or repurposed, or used by a single department or a broader community of learners.

The institutions featured in the guide are public and private, large and small, representing different missions and contexts. Their stories offer a lens through which to examine how visions of 21st century learners and learning are reshaping and transforming physical environments for learning on campuses across the country.

The Learning Spaces Collaboratory (LSC), a collaborating community of researchers, practitioners and other stakeholders developing resources to inform the practice and process of planning, experiencing, and assessing 21st century learning spaces on campuses across the country. The LSC includes academics, architects, leaders of national societies, and academic leaders across the country that share a commitment to transforming the learning environment for undergraduates in all fields.

To learn more about their organization, visit their website at http://www.pkallsc.org/.

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Accessorizing Your Active Learning Space

When you close your eyes and try to envision an active learning space, the first thing you probably see is a desk. Or maybe it’s a table. And of course, you have to throw in some chairs. What are desks and tables without chairs? Desks, tables, and chairs are the common denominators in most educational facilities. But it takes more than these furniture pieces to outfit an active learning space, especially as schools try to respond to changing needs of students, teachers, and technology. So what more do you need that will help you maximize your active learning space? Accessories. Here are just a few items to consider when accessorizing your active learning space.

Storage

Storage containers and shelving hold a variety of supplies and equipment for student projects and personal storage but can also function as convenient space dividers. Storage, both large and small, is worth exploring and can have a big effect on the efficiency and feel of a learning space.

Bookcases and lateral files become multi-purpose storage units by adding worksurface tops. This additional feature provides a touchdown surfaces for impromptu or quick meetings.

Storage caddies and pedestals stocked with project supplies are essential mobile units that provide convenient, flexible storage and can be easily moved around a learning space and tucked away when not in use. Add a lock to these units for safe storage of personal supplies and mobile devices.

Opt for an all in one student chair. A functional seating option complete with under-seat storage give students a place for storing personal items. The trolley base tray provides space for backpacks and personal belongings and eliminates the need for hooks and additional student storage units.

Writable Surfaces

Writable surfaces offer an opportunity to share ideas and collaborate whether its spontaneously or purposely. It creates a basis for conversation and discussion and gives others an immediate awareness of each other’s thoughts and ideas. Mobile whiteboards and vertical whiteboard surfaces are two great options in a traditional sense but adding writable surfaces to tops of tables, shelves and even storage units adds some dual-purpose features as well.

Mobile markerboards are one of the most versatile additions to any learning space. Whiteboards can be used for collaborative brainstorming or even as dividers to provide teams with more private space. Vertical markerboard surfaces make things more visible to a bigger group. The magnetic features allow for flexible presentation sizes.

Tables, shelves, and storage units with whiteboard tops allow space for personal ideation and expression. The collaborative nature of an activity and the exchange between learners is immediate and impactful.  

Teacher and Presentation Stations

A teacher station is multi-functional and always ready for change. Because they are modular, schools can build teacher stations using a variety of shapes and sizes to meet the needs of any learning space. Standard Teacher Stations configurations adjust to every need while offering a uniform aesthetic while Sit-2-Stand Teacher Stations enable teachers to easily transition from different classroom activities while supporting user ergonomics. Mobile and adaptable Presentation Stations feature a lectern for added functionality.

A teacher can easily break a teacher station unit up to satisfy the real-time need of a learning space. Use the collaboration table for guided reading and small group instruction, grading papers, or parent-teacher conferences. Move a side table or lectern to the center of the classroom for presentations. Move a storage caddy or pedestal around the room as an additional work surface. Each independent component is mobile for optimal flexibility allowing the teacher the ability to position their station as they see fit.

Storage, writable surfaces and teacher stations are three accessories can improve the function and look of any learning space. There are many more accessories that can bring out the best in your spaces. How will you accessorize your active learning space?

Accessorizing your learning space? We’d love to help! For space planning ideas or product suggestions give a call at 616-818-1970.

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The Learning Space Transformation

Learning Spaces and Employer’s Expectations of Future Graduates

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Mark S. Valenti says in his recent article, Beyond Active Learning: Transformation of the Learning Space, that new pedagogical approaches are demanding new kinds of space. In that the next generation of learning spaces will take all the characteristics of an active learning environment—flexibility, collaboration, team-based, project-based—and add the capability of creating and making.

In his article Valenti examines the learning space as the creation space with a focus on the student and employers expectations as they graduate. He explains that the nature of work today is inherently team-based and collaborative, often virtual, and geographically distant and that companies are seeking creative, collaborative employees who have an exploratory mindset. Employers seek graduates who can be more immediately productive in today's fast-paced economy.

The article highlights examples of education initiatives that are rethinking the nature of learning environments and that rethinking is manifesting itself as an active learning, collaboration kind of spaces.

What might their learning space look like? Valenti says it's going to be technology-rich, multimodal, and very flexible, enabling authentic learning experiences. The paradigm is shifting. The transformation of the learning space has begun.

Read the full article here: Beyond Active Learning: Transformation of the Learning Space

Active learning spaces allow for small-group collaboration, a tech-ready interactive working environment, and the ability to easily adapt and reconfigure furniture to different lessons or projects and enables students to gain the kinds of skills that employers are demanding of today's graduates.

Are you looking to design more active learning features into your learning spaces? We’d love to help! For space planning ideas or product suggestions give a call at 616-818-1970.

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Study Results from Across the Pond

Did you know that the classroom environment can help students’ academic performance rise? This is what the University of Salford (UK) and a firm of architects found out in a pilot study conducted over a one-year period. Their findings confirmed a correlation between academic performances and learning environments.

The study results say that the identification of the impact of environment factors on learning is a major finding for schools' research, but also suggests that the scale of the impact on human performance and wellbeing in general, can be isolated.

Phase 2 of the study concluded that classroom design does have an impact on a student's learning. The study included assessments of 153 classrooms in 27 schools, primarily in England, with the goal of identifying the impact of physical classroom features and the academic progress of the 3766 pupils who occupied each of those specific spaces.

This study confirms the use of the naturalness, individuality, and stimulation (or more memorably, SIN) conceptual model as a vehicle to organize and study the full range of sensory impacts experienced by an individual occupying a given space. In this particular case the naturalness design principle accounts for around 50% of the impact on learning, with the other two accounting for roughly a quarter each.

The following three design principles were used to suggest and structure the factors to be considered:

  • Naturalness: light, sound, temperature, air quality and links to nature;
  • Individualization: ownership, flexibility and connection;
  • Stimulation (appropriate level of): complexity and color.

Seven key design parameters were identified that together explain 16% of the variation in pupils' academic progress achieved. These are light, temperature, air quality, ownership, flexibility, complexity and color.

The study authors say that the study was able to identify and typify the elements of design that together appear to lead to optimal learning spaces for elementary school students but several of the factors are not only issues for designers, but present opportunities for users to adapt their spaces to better support learning.

Sources:

Study Proves Classroom Design Really Does Matter

A Holistic, Multi-Level Analysis Identifying the Impact of Classroom Design on Pupils’ Learning

The Impact of Classroom Design on Pupils' Learning: Final Results of a Holistic, Multi-Level Analysis

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A View From the Inside

Do Architects & Designers (A&D’s) have another target audience to consider when a developing a 21st Century Learning Commons space? Let’s see, we have students, check, teachers, check and we can't forget the community that uses it for a boardroom or a yoga studio. Check. Who else would A&D teams need to consider when designing this space?

The answer is learners. Focusing on learners that are students, teachers, and/or the community, A&D teams are considering things like engagement, learner traits, and pedagogy when designing a space. Creating comfortable and welcoming spaces where all different types of learners of any age say, “I want to be here.”

A&D teams are creating 21st Century learning spaces that can simultaneously be a classroom, computer lab, reading room, study room, conference room, community center, and a place for parents to meet. These unique learning spaces and their sub-areas encourage different types of usage and gives users places to do homework, hang out, work in groups, and create.

The Learning Lab is a sub-area that is gaining popularity in the 21st Century Learning Commons. It may look a little different in each school, but the idea is still the same. This is an area is where students can tinker and invent, make and build stuff, and create. From shooting a video to fixing a computer, students can have the room and freedom to create.

In a recent study, The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)/MacArthur Foundation says that Learning Labs offer the kind of learning experiences that help students develop problem-solving skills and encourage collaboration and persistence. These behaviors are important for success in a highly competitive and rapidly changing workforce.

YOUmedia Learning Labs Network says there is no one formula for creating a Learning Lab. Each is unique to its city, its community, and its own set of resources.

Learning Labs sites are safe, welcoming, and youth-centered places. They encourage students to develop their imaginations and creativity using digital media and other tools both collaboratively and individually. Far from the traditional view of libraries or museums, Learning Labs are noisily active, social, collaborative spaces.

In Learning Labs, students work together to imagine and create, try and fail and try again, and ultimately showcase their accomplishments. A physical space that promotes this approach will look and feel different to students and adults alike, so the choice of area that can focus on production, collaboration, and social connection is key.

Using mobile furniture like tables, chairs, storage units, and whiteboards in the learning lab give students the resources to be more productive than ever before. Uniquely shaped tabletops in different sizes can be configured into multiple forms. Nesting tables and chairs can be easily put away and stored to make more room for different activities. Spontaneous learning opportunities are abundant when a room is designed with flexible, made to move furniture.

Story time or studying for a test. Researching on a topic on a computer or listening to a podcast. Building a lego robot or fixing a computer. Learning activities can happen all around the Learning Commons with flexible spaces designed around the needs of the student and teachers.

Considering a Learning Lab for your space? We’d love to help! For space planning ideas or product suggestions give a call at 616-818-1970.

Sources:

https://www.imls.gov/assets/1/AssetManager/LearningLabsLExecutiveSummary.pdf
http://youmedia.org/
http://youmedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/YM-toolkit.pdf

Posted by mienteam@miencompany.com at 11:15 AM | 0 comments

Turn the Tables

Quick and Easy Ways to Revolutionize Your Library/Media Center

The concept of the library continues to shift away from just a room to an active learning space that meets the needs of today’s students, teachers and even the local community. With the 21st Century learning concepts in mind, more and more schools are looking to space design and furniture to help make the transition. Here are a few ways to revolutionize your library/media center into a Learning Commons that reflects your school’s culture and provides an environment that supports the information, reading and technology needs of your students, staff, and even the local community.  

Make it Welcoming

A strong visual image reflects a school community and can play a role in a student’s perception of a place and its environment. How a space looks and feels sets a tone and sends a message to students of at every age. Studies have shown how students and teachers are more productive, healthier, and have a greater sense of well-being in bright, colorful environments that encourage open thinking and innovation. Entering a bright, colorful space can motivate students to think and learn creatively. Whether it’s before school, after school, during lunch periods or with an academic class the library/media space should be a draw for all members of the school community. Creating a space where staff and students feel comfortable and want to be is important.

Create Sub Commons or Communities

The Learning Commons can simultaneously be a classroom, computer lab, reading room, study room, conference room, community center, and a place for parents to meet. Creating sub-common or communities like the ones below can help meet the varying needs of the space.

  • Creative Commons—An informal space where students and staff can move around based on the activity or learning/teaching style working in small groups. Perfect for breakout sessions, small group work, and collaborative work.

  • Community Commons—A larger more formal space where teachers can hold classes, administrators can hold staff meetings, and community can hold various meetings.

  • Quiet/Private/Leisure Area—An area for individual task work and quiet reading. A place for test taking, tutoring, or lesson planning. A place to relax and recharge.

  • Idea Lab or Project Areas—An area where students can tinker and invent, make and build stuff, and create. From shooting a video to fixing a computer, students can have the room and freedom to create.  

Story time or studying for a test. Researching on a topic on a computer or listening to a podcast. Learning activities can happen all around the Learning Commons with flexible spaces designed around the needs of the student and teachers.

Make it Flexible

Creating learning environments that are easily changeable and quickly adaptable helps support multiple types of learning and teaching styles. Flexible areas that can be reconfigured quickly for formal or informal group work and changed to accommodate individual task work are perfectly suited for the library/media center. Adding furniture designed for movement and collaboration gives students and teachers’ flexibility and adaptability in the way they learn and teach.

Use Tech Ready Multi-Purpose Furniture

Furniture that is flexible and adaptable is perfect in a multi-use space and encourages social interactions and spontaneous learning opportunities. Multi-purpose components like mobility and modularity create opportunities for teachers and students to design environments to fit their immediate needs. Here are a few ideas of how to use furniture pieces in different ways.

  • Mobile shelving—Dual-purpose shelving divides spaces and adds storage and privacy options.

  • Whiteboard surfaces on tabletops and shelf tops—Creates collaborative spaces anywhere.

  • Mobile flip top whiteboard—Use it vertically or horizontally as a desktop.

Draw students and teachers into an inviting Learning Commons space with welcoming and flexible features and areas that are designed to meet the needs of active learning. Enable connections inside and out with a collaborative and engaging space that makes face-to-face and online discussions possible.

Are you working on a Learning Commons space? We’d love to help! For space planning ideas or product suggestions give a call at 616-818-1970.

Posted by mienteam@miencompany.com at 9:44 AM | 0 comments

Lessons from the Heart

How Teachers are using the Learning Commons Space

Most people will say the library or the media center is the heart of a school. Command central. The hub. And we aren’t just talking in literal terms, either. You can usually find the physical space right in the center of a school like a bullseye on a target. A beacon. But evolution, technology, and changing pedagogies are forcing the school library to change. Schools are rethinking the libraries role and how it will meet the 21st Century needs of the school community.

The name is changing, and the look is changing, but the importance of the space remains. It’s still the heart.

The newest industry term for the modern library and/or media center is the Learning Commons. The Learning Commons provides both a place and a program that reflects the school culture and provides an environment that supports the information, reading and technology needs of students, staff, and even the local community. So how are teachers using the Learning Commons space?

A Change of Scenery

Teachers looking for a change of scenery or change of space that’s conducive to a specific learning activity or teaching style will find a trip to the learning commons may encourage creativity and fresh ideas. The simple act of moving makes the brain more creative. A welcoming and comfortable area filled with mobile café tables and stools, and soft seating promotes collaborative study and small group work. Break apart to work in small groups and then come back together to discuss ideas. There’s more time for learning with seamless and quick transitions in the space.

La Serna High School Library 2016-02-09.jpg

Agile Spaces Create Multi-Purpose Spaces

Learning Commons are perfectly suitable for teacher planning spaces or casual collaboration with other staff members. Creating individual and group areas that are comfortable and welcoming encourages the sharing of ideas while also giving teachers space for down time from the hectic classroom. Agile spaces create multi-purpose space options giving teachers a place to plan, research, or recharge.

Modular and mobile furniture give teachers more choices. Mobile desks and chairs for quiet task work, soft seating and lounge furniture for comfortable and relaxed research, or storage units with white board tops for collaboration. From reading global news updates to educational articles, researching the latest and greatest ideas, or preparing lesson plans the Learning Commons is an agile space that meets the needs of teachers.

Columbia County Library.jpg

Teachers embracing the Learning Commons are holding classes or bringing students there when they want to conduct lessons that require research, equipment, additional space, personnel, or expertise. This fluid learning space is a great resource for teachers looking to be creative, do interesting things and on the hunt for different ways to engage students outside of the classroom. The many areas of a Learning Commons can provide those opportunities and the environment in one central location.

Are you thinking of adding some agile features to your Learning Commons space? We’d love to help! For space planning ideas or product suggestions give a call at 616-818-1970.


Posted by mienteam@miencompany.com at 11:26 AM | 0 comments

Classroom vs. the Dynamic Teaching Space

A Perspective from Europe

The Future of the Physical Learning Environment: School Facilities that Support the User is a paper published by Marko Kuuskorpi and Nuria Cabellos González both teachers and education researchers from Europe. Given rise to an urgent need for a new generation of facilities to cater to 21st century teaching and learning needs, the pair explored and documented their conclusions of a study that focused on what the future of the physical learning environment would look like.

This study, carried out in collaboration with schools in six European countries over a three-year period, explores what tomorrow’s physical learning environments will be like. The study, which stemmed from a project entitled Forum for the Future and which was funded by the Finnish National Board of Education (FNBE), was designed to contribute to the quality of education and to promote new methods, networks and tools, both locally and globally.

Information on users’ and school authorities’ perceptions was collected from the six countries using different methods: 250 14- and 15-year-old students from the six participating countries were invited to design their ideal model classroom, using a 1:50 scale and including a specific set of furniture and equipment. Students were asked to arrange the furniture to suit their learning needs and according to how they would like tomorrow’s classroom to be configured; they were also asked to suggest alternative space solutions. In addition, 65 teachers completed questionnaires and 35 administrative school authorities were interviewed. The study also took into consideration the views of different expert groups.

The study resulted in the creation of a model that is flexible, modifiable, and sustainable while supporting the teaching and learning processes. A learning space that supports teaching and learning operations, while demonstrating flexibility, sustainability and modifiability. Moving from the traditional classroom space to a dynamic teaching space.

A Dynamic Teaching Space Concept

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Source: The Future of the Physical Learning Environment: School Facilities That Support the User

The author’s note that future technological advances and developments in social networks and media, as well as different teaching and learning methods, will undoubtedly require dynamic teaching spaces. The design of the proposed model takes these factors into account: the carefully conceived flexible layout and furniture arrangement facilitates individual, pair and group work methods.

The study respondents perceived the traditional classroom as a passive area, which hindered the full use of space. They associated dynamic teaching spaces with flexibility and the possibility of creating different furniture configurations. The latter can be achieved by ensuring that furniture is mobile and that there is free and easy access to information technology.

Kuuskorpi and González go on to say that the study participants did not decry the traditional classroom, but they called for additional spaces of different sizes in optimal locations to support teaching and learning processes offering various possibilities for learning to take place: ranging from individual study to large group activities. They should also support teacher coaching and individual work.

The authors believe that flexibility fosters new types of teaching and learning, which are determined by the demands of the subject or activity. To be successful, the sustainable physical learning environment needs to be equipped with both modular workstations and areas with comfortable seating, which contribute to support individual learning. It should be possible to adapt the furniture to different configurations. Similarly, as teaching and information technology tools facilitate flexible teaching, it should be easy to displace equipment and wireless terminals according to different subjects and work methods. The key operational elements of the teaching space are illustrated in the table below.

Key Operational Elements of the Teaching Space

Source: The Future of the Physical Learning Environment: School Facilities That Support the User

If a school provides a quality environment for students, this will facilitate the acquisition of skills that are important for society. The choice of equipment is important: it should be versatile, resistant, durable and easy to repair. User-based innovative processes should be at the heart of designing the physical learning environment of tomorrow’s schools. This process should take into account the global needs of students, teachers, school administrators and the community, while respecting the environment. A judicious selection of products and services that minimizes negative environmental impacts will also be of benefit to all.

Read the full report: The Future of the Physical Learning Environment: School Facilities That Support the User 

Posted by mienteam@miencompany.com at 12:00 AM | 0 comments

Move Over Classroom

21st Century design is influencing another traditional learning space – the school library according to 21st Century Learning Environments, a whitepaper published by Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

The white paper documents that the 21st Century library/media center must play multiple roles: carrying out its traditional role of bringing information resources to learners, of course, but also providing the tools and infrastructure that enable learners to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate resources in ways that demonstrate learning and create new knowledge.

It must offer places for formal learning in which large groups can gather for presentations; places for social learning where teams can collaborate on projects; and places for individual learning where individuals can find a quiet space for reading, reflection, or relaxation. These centers must also connect kids and adults to the wider world beyond the school by providing the audio and video communications technologies that build bridges between people and places all over the globe.

There’s a New Kid in Town

Libraries are reinventing themselves as content becomes more accessible online and their role becomes less about housing tomes and more about connecting learners and constructing knowledge says Beth Holland, Instructor and Communications Coordinator at EdTechTeacher. In her Edutopia blog post, 21st-Century Libraries: The Learning Commons, she explains where traditional libraries and media centers are often characterized as places of silent, independent study schools are now transforming these spaces into centers of active learning. A space that encourages teachers and students to collaborate, communicate, and share. School libraries/media centers are becoming a learning commons.

Students need study space, support for bring your own devices (BYOD), content-creation tools, and a flexible environment that can be reconfigured on the fly to meet the needs at that moment. A well-designed learning commons meets those needs and more.

Learning Commons and Beyond

Bob Pearlman, an strategic consultant in the design, development, and implementation of 21st Century schools takes the learning commons idea one step further and from his website says, “All rooms can essentially become a learning commons, complete with various learning hubs and the ability to extend the physical with the digital.” These new learning environments, sometimes a transformed library-media space, sometimes a centerpiece learning environment of a new STEM or STEAM program, go by many names - Innovation Labs, IDEA Labs, FabLabs, weCreate Centers, Learning Commons, etc.

Remco Bergsma of the MiEN Company agrees. “We help design active learning spaces with comfortable furniture that is mobile and modular and can fit the various needs of the specific space. What we are starting to see now is that some of the furniture pieces typically associated with a media center are trickling into the classroom and vice versa. We have schools that are configuring typical classrooms spaces with furniture and using them as project rooms, pilot rooms, or idea labs to enhance active learning.”

Collaboration and flexibility is a core element of active learning and being able to drive this process with furniture is a cost-effective way to make significant changes to create a 21st Century spaces. Here are some ideas to consider when using furniture to configure your library media center space.

Divide the Space

When it comes to multi-purpose areas, designate areas for a wide variety of tasks. Group work and individual task work should all be accounted for. Modular storage units are a great way to divide space. The modular storage units in the KIO Modular Curved Series provide storage and seating options while also doubling as a space divider. A low activity table can nest within the curve of the cafe height table, and lounge pouf units fit perfectly opposite the seated height table.

The FLEX 60° Curved Bench is perfect for adding seating options by creating a small bench type configuration or informal small group seating area. The modular design allows multiple units to be arranged into curves or serpentine benches that are easily accessible from both sides.

Use Multi-Purpose Furniture

Flexible furniture in multi-use spaces and encourages social interactions and spontaneous learning opportunities. Selecting a variety chairs and stools within a collaborative area can boost individual student development. Interactive environments should provide a workable space allowing students and staff to take a quiet seat by the window to study or an active Just for Fun balancing stool at a meeting table for group work.

Need a story-telling corner or a comfy collaborative space? FLEX Tiered Step Units Units are perfect for creating back-to-back group areas. The tiered design provides a variety of seating options that works for any age group. Fits perfectly in a reading area or community space. Upholster in a pattern or bright colors to add energy to the environment.

Multi-purpose components that are mobile and modular enhance effective learning strategy. Mobile, flip-top tables are height adjustable and provide numerous layout options for groups and individuals. Don’t forget presentation tools such as the FYI Flip Chart Markerboard. Imagine a student leading a brainstorm session on today’s trending topics.

The active learning media center becomes a flexible work and social setting for multiple activities. It can simultaneously be a classroom, computer lab, reading room, study room, conference room, community center, and a place for parents to meet. Create a dynamic, interactive learning environment with mobile and modular furniture.  

Are you working on a Library or Media Center space? We’d love to help! For space planning ideas or product suggestions give a call at 616-818-1970.


Posted by mienteam@miencompany.com at 12:00 AM | 0 comments

Ditch the Desk? Really?

Ditch the desk. Don’t ditch the desk? What’s a teacher to do?

Edutopia recently featured a blog post on the subject of removing the teacher’s desk from the classroom. High school teacher Nick Provenzano submitted this post after making this significant change in his classroom. “Last summer, I visited my classroom and decided to change it around. The entire process started with one simple question: "Is this room designed for me or for my students?" It was on this question that he based every decision he made when it came to designing the room. “There were plenty of funny looks from teachers and students when they noticed the desk was gone, but I really learned some incredible things about myself and about my classroom by ditching the desk,” explains Nick. Here are some of the benefits Nick found with desk-free teaching.

  • Comfortability—One teacher desk might not seem like it would take up much space in a classroom, but removing the desk allowed a few extra feet back to the students so that they weren't so bunched up.
  • Approachability—More students came up for help. These little interactions can be the difference maker for a struggling student.
  • Mileage—Nick kept active in the classroom and more engaged with his students.
  • Ownership—Students had a reason to feel differently about the space. Nick was another learner sharing the room. With more ownership comes more engagement and respect.

Looking back, Nick says he can't believe that it took him this long to realize how much of an impediment a desk was to creating a stronger classroom environment. He says, “I really didn't miss anything that used to occupy my desk -- especially when I found the changes that I made to the classroom benefited not only my students, but benefited me as well.”

Do most teachers agree? Based on the blog post comments readers like the idea, but had a few concerns. Ditching the traditional, hard-to-move bulky desk sitting in front of the classroom sounds great, but what about storage? What about a place to sit for a one-on-one sessions or when students are working independently? What about a work surface for a computer?

In the post comments, Nick says the biggest question he received was where he puts all of his stuff. He explains that he still has a small table in the corner that has the room’s desktop computer and that there is a chair to sit and use the computer. It's all in one corner of the room. Everything else (pens, pencils, etc.) is placed in the closet.

Others have wondered where Nick does his grading or where he sits during his prep hour. Nick says, “I usually sit at the desks in my room if there is any grading to do, most of my grading is digital, so I can grade wherever I can sit with my Chromebook.”

Go Ahead and Ditch It

So yes, go ahead and ditch the traditional desk, but replace it with the active learning functionality of a teacher station. Modular and mobile, teacher stations satisfy the needs of both the teacher and student earning its spot in the 21st Century classroom.

Teacher stations are a combination of modular components that work together in cohesive classroom spaces offering function and storage options. These multifunctional units provide opportunities for various learning applications in the classroom with extreme flexibility.

THX Vinton Wave 3-Piece Teacher Station

A teacher station is multi-functional and always ready for change. Because they are modular, schools can build teacher stations using a variety of shapes and sizes to meet the needs of the classroom. Standard Teacher Stations configurations adjust to every need while offering a uniform aesthetic while Sit-2-Stand Teacher Stations enable teachers to easily transition from different classroom activities while supporting user ergonomics. Mobile and adaptable Presentation Stations feature a lectern for added functionality.

A teacher can easily break a teacher station unit up to satisfy the real-time need of the classroom. Use the collaboration table for guided reading and small group instruction, grading papers, or parent teacher conferences. Move a side table or lectern to the center of the classroom for presentations. Move a storage caddy or pedestal around the room as an additional work surface. Each independent component is mobile for optimal flexibility allowing the teacher the ability to position their station as they see fit.

2g2bt-standard-presentation-station-with-hmu-side-table

Furniture designed for movement and collaboration gives teachers flexibility and adaptability in the way they teach. Mobile and modular teacher stations support and enhance active learning in classroom spaces.

elv8-byron-mobile-sit-2-stand-teacher-station

Interested in a teacher station for your space? We’d love to help! For more space planning ideas or product suggestions give a call at 616-818-1970.

Read the original Edutopia.org blog post: Ditch the Desk?

Posted by mienteam@miencompany.com at 12:00 AM | 0 comments

5 Ways to Add Flexibility to a Staff Planning Space

There is a new twist to the traditional teacher’s lounge in today’s 21st Century schools, and furniture is playing a role in moving this space to the next level. Certainly not a new concept, but the appropriately termed, staff planning spaces have evolved from a place where educators get together to have lunch or unwind to a multi-purpose spaces where teachers go to collaborate, recharge, and work. Today’s spaces encourage collaboration and the sharing of creative ideas while also providing a space for quiet task work away from the hectic classroom.

Schools are being creative in the way they’re using the space for a variety of reasons. Staff planning spaces are ideal for those teachers who may share a classroom and need a place to land to those who just need to bounce ideas off their colleagues’. Here are five ways to add flexibility and spontaneity into your next staff planning space design.

  • Make it active. Use stools that promote natural movements. The human body needs to move; it’s natural. Try adding the RKR adjustable stool around tables and bookcases.

  • Make it organized. Add dual-purpose storage components. Create dual-purpose storage by adding worksurface tops to bookcases and lateral files. It saves space and provides touch-down surfaces for quick meetings. With a variety of ways to organize, storage units also function as a convenient space divider.

  • Create recharge zones. Add powered-up soft seating. Technology integration plays a powerful role in today’s learning environments and not just in the classroom. From global news updates to educational articles, researching the latest and greatest is best done while relaxing on a Chameleon lounge chair or sofa.

  • Make it comfortable. Use adjustable-height tables and seating options. Pairing ELV8 table and RKR adjustable stools creates ultimate flexibility as the table and stools raise and lower together to quickly change the feel and energy of an environment.

MiEN creates unique furniture with flexibility and adaptability to create staff planning spaces that allow teaming, collaboration, and interaction but also areas for quiet task work. With a full collection of pieces that work seamlessly together, you can make the most of every inch of your staff planning space with furniture that designed for today’s active learning environments.

Designing a staff planning area for your school? We’d love to help! For more space planning ideas or product suggestions give a call at 616-818-1970.

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Inspiring Spaces Energize Active Learning

Download MiEN's newest product brochure for inspiration and ideas for your active learning spaces!

Download Now

Inspiring Spaces Energize Active Learning Product Brochure

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MiEN Company Joins NCPA

NCPA

NCPA (National Cooperative Purchasing Alliance) is a leading national government purchasing cooperative working to reduce the cost of goods and services by leveraging the purchasing power of public agencies in all 50 states. NCPA utilizes state of the art procurement resources and solutions that result in cooperative purchasing contracts that ensure all public agencies are receiving products and services of the highest quality at the lowest prices.

Who Can Use NCPA's Contracts

There are over 90,000 agencies nationwide from both the public and nonprofit sectors that are eligible to utilize NCPA's cooperative purchasing contracts. These include, but are not limited to the following agency types:

  • School Districts (including K-12, Charter schools, and Private K-12)
  • Higher Education (including Universities, Community Colleges, Private Colleges, and Technical / Vocational Schools)
  • Cities, Counties, and any Local Government
  • State Agencies
  • Healthcare Organizations
  • Church/Religious
  • Nonprofit Corporations
     

State Statutes

Want to see your state's laws on cooperative purchasing? Click here to view your state's laws on cooperative purchasing. 

Looking for more information on the NCPA and MiEN Company? We’d love to help! Call (616) 818-1970 or email us.

Posted by lbelsito@miencompany.com at 8:42 AM | 0 comments

Join the Movement — Furniture for Active Learning Spaces

Visit us at the EDSpaces 2015 Conference & Expo on October 28th-30th in New Orleans, LA. 

The evolution of the 21st Century Learning Environment continues as schools are moving from traditional classrooms to active learning spaces that are adaptable, and support a varied, interactive approach to instruction. This teaching method requires flexibility, especially with furniture. MiEN specializes in classroom furniture, modular lounge units, and storage options that embrace mobility—all able to move from room to room or to work in a variety of configurations. As a global company, MiEN works to build up this new generation of student, faculty and staff, delivering the technology-driven collaborative settings they require to be successful. 

  • Encourage spontaneous learning opportunities in inspiring spaces. Build workspaces that allow for quick task work or create meeting areas with tables or soft seating. Incorporating a variety of seating options and height-adjustable units is an effective way to create a diversity of space within a shared commons area or team-planning room.
     
  • Re-arrange spaces to promote student engagement. Create learning environments that are easily changeable and quickly adaptable with mobile and modular furniture components that can be mixed and matched to coordinate an entire school space.  
     
  • Create new spaces in old places. School systems can gain maximum long-term value from their facilities while realizing the benefits of flexible learning environments. Divide spaces with taller furniture pieces. Add storage pieces for optimal organization finished in whiteboard top. The possibilities are endless.
     

The EDSpaces 2015 Conference & Expo is a great opportunity to find out more on how to incorporate flexibility into any school space, how to build collaborative environments to promote spontaneous learning opportunities, and how to create re-energized spaces cost-effectively with MiEN products and design services.

Don’t miss this opportunity to meet with the MiEN Team at booth #944. To schedule a personal meeting at the conference, please email us sales@miencompany.com or call 616-818-1970.  

Posted by lbelsito@miencompany.com at 12:00 AM | 0 comments

Flexible Furniture for Vocational Spaces

Excerpts from The New Vo-Tech by Patrick Glenn as printed in School Planning and Management Magazine

It’s no secret: the way students learn today is different. Curriculum is shifting, subjects are blending and methods for engaging students are changing — but are facilities adapting to the increasing demands of technology, collaborative learning and project-based instruction? This is a question Patrick Glenn, ponders in his article The New Vo-Tech as published in School Planning & Management magazine. He believes that in many cases school districts are taking cues from innovative companies and think tanks such as Google and IDEO.

Most of these types of spaces still have four walls and a ceiling, but the types of group collaboration and learning activities that happen within these walls are changing. Blended subjects and learning spaces are unconventional compared to the types of classrooms Baby Boomers and some Gen X-ers may be accustomed to from our days at the chalkboard, these programs and learning models will help prepare students for an ever-demanding and global society — whether they plan to attend college or go directly into the workforce says Glenn.

Designing a space to accommodate such a wide range of activities can be a challenging process. Delicate research and planning efforts are critical in designing a learning environment supportive of multiple learning objectives, but the single greatest planning principle seen in many of today’s successful vocational and CTE learning spaces is flexibility.  Glenn emphasizes that these learning environments should be easily changeable and quickly adaptable, possibly maximizing movability by having everything on wheels.

When exploring the physical aspects of such a learning space, considerations should include not only moveable student furniture and storage, but also furniture that can be arranged in a variety of ways, adaptable to large group interaction, small group activities and single person assignments. 

Unconventional learning labs are our new Vo-Tech, and unlike in past years, these programs and facilities are being celebrated and pursued, They are now seen as the cornerstone of our future educational model, where students can collaborate and learn through authentic, project-based, real-world experiences.

Read the full article here.

Looking for flexible and adaptable furniture to fit your space? We’d love to help! Call (616) 818-1970 or email us.

Posted by lbelsito@miencompany.com at 10:05 AM | 0 comments

The Four Pillars of Flipped Learning

By Matthew Lynch  

Dr. Lynch is an award winning writer, activist and the Dean of the School of Education, Psychology, & Interdisciplinary Studies and an Associate Professor of Education at Virginia Union University. In his recent article published on the EDVOCATE website, Dr. Lynch defines the four pillars of flipped learning and compares the differences between flipped learning and a flipped classroom.

The Flipped Learning Network (FLN) defines Flipped Learning as a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter.

The Four Pillars

Flexible Environment
Educators create flexible spaces where students choose when and where they learn. Additionally, educators who flip their classes are flexible in their expectations of student timelines for learning and in their assessments of student learning.

Learning Culture
In a Flipped Learning model, in-class time is dedicated to exploring topics in greater depth and creating rich learning opportunities. As a result, students are actively involved in knowledge construction as they participate in and evaluate their learning in a manner that is personally meaningful.

Intentional Content
Flipped Learning Educators determine what they need to teach and what materials students should handle on their own. Educators use Intentional Content to maximize classroom time in order to adopt methods of student-centered, active learning strategies, depending on grade level and subject matter.

Professional Educator
The role of a Professional Educator is even more important, and often more demanding, in a Flipped Classroom than in a traditional one. During class time, they need to observe students, providing them with instant feedback and an assessment their work. While Professional Educators take on less visibly prominent roles in a flipped classroom, they remain the essential part that enables Flipped Learning to occur successfully.

Dr. Lynch suggests that the Flipped Learning model may not work for every class, the model represents an innovative approach to teaching with the potential to create active, engaged and learning-centered classrooms. FLN’s four suggested pillars serve as ways to help educators successfully implement a Flipped Learning model.  

Read the full article here

Posted by lbelsito@miencompany.com at 3:05 PM | 0 comments

Five Keys to a Successful School Environment

What if a school itself was a powerful learning tool, capable of creating the kind of positive, secure and engaging atmosphere children need to succeed? Janet Selser, co-founder and president of Selser Schaefer Architects poses this question in a recent article published in School Planning and Management. In the article, 'Wow, You Really Like Me!', Selser explains that the physical environment of our schools plays an important role in how our students feel and educators function.

"The demand for a better learning environment is here," says Selser. The way we communicate, learn, and explore has changed. How we educate our students today is rooted in unprecedented knowledge of how to adapt to a variety of learning styles and is supported by innovative technology. Selser shares five important keys to a successful school environment.

  1. Indoor Air Quality — Poor indoor air quality can trigger absences and affect concentration. As densely populated places, schools need excellent indoor air quality.
  2. Acoustics — Students shouldn’t miss important classroom content due to background noise, such as from heating and cooling systems. Young children require a high level of acoustic quality for comprehension.
  3. Visual Comfort — Research shows appropriate lighting improves test scores and reduces behavioral issues. Superbly illuminated spaces simply create a positive environment.
  4. Sustainable Design — A high-performance school is synonymous with a sustainable school. Sustainable design maximizes tax dollars, conserves resources and cuts operating costs – while teaching environmental responsibility.
  5. Flexibility — Students learn in different ways. Today’s classrooms need more flexibility and a creative learning environment so that several activities can go on simultaneously.

In schools that have addressed these key issues, their students not only exhibit improved academic performance, but have better attendance and behavior as well.

Read the full article here.

Looking for ways to add flexibility into your classroom? Learn more about MiEN’s mobile and modular furniture products: seating, tables and desks, and teacher stations

Posted by lbelsito@miencompany.com at 10:30 AM | 0 comments

Welcome to Our New Website!

We are proud to announce the release of our new website. Our modern, mobile friendly website has a fresh look built for easy navigation, tons of visual product representation, inspiration ideas, and so much more.

A few things you’ll love about the new MiEN Company Website:

  • Homepage – Quick and easy navigation. Find unique furniture products for 21st Century Learning Environments in a snap. Access all areas of the site from this one location.
  • Favorites List – Similar to a shopping cart this powerful yet simple feature, gives you the ability to gather items in your cart for future reference.
  • Inspiration – Browse and scroll through product and idea starter galleries to find inspiration for your next project.
  • Blog–Inspiration Ideas, industry news, new product announcements, and so much more.

We will continually be expanding our online content especially under the Blog and Inspiration sections. We will bring you updated and relevant industry news, and inspiration ideas, so we encourage you to bookmark it, check back often and connect with us on social media to receive notice when updates and new content are added.


take a look

Posted by lbelsito@miencompany.com at 11:17 AM

You've Got To Move It, Move It

The human body needs to move; it’s natural. MiEN’s comfortable ergonomically designed and inspired seating options support a body’s natural movement giving students the ability to move naturally in their seat without disruption. Learning environments that support a student’s natural tendencies to move can help to increase concentration and boost creativity. Learning happens naturally and spontaneously when kids are focused and engaged.

Finding ways to make movement a part of today’s learning spaces just got easier. Learn more about MiEN’s made-to-move chairs, stools, desks, and tables.

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Posted by lbelsito@miencompany.com at 11:16 AM

Furniture Impacts the Learning Process

“Furniture is a vital component of creating the 21st century teaching and learning environment,” says Jim Brady, author of Flipping for Student Success, a recent article in the School Planning & Management Magazine. In the article, he explains that furniture is often only viewed as a commodity responding to seat time requirements and bid procedures of the business office, thus becoming an afterthought and selected outside of the design process. He suggests that furniture should be a key consideration in implementing a flipped teaching and learning strategy.

A flipped classroom changes the delivery and engagement in the classroom and is not just a change in destination or curriculum offering. It is a shift in framework from a traditional classroom of how and where instruction is presented and where and how it is applied. A flipped classroom is an agile environment that must adapt quickly to changing needs. This learning environment is interactive, personal, collaborative, and learner -focused and needs versatile furniture solutions.

R.J. Webber, an assistant superintendent of the Novi Community School District in Michigan says his schools are having success with flipped classrooms and offers this advice when it comes to furniture.

  • Furniture needs to be light enough to be moved by students to form smaller collaborative areas.
  • Tabletops need to be wider and capable of being linked together.
  • All furniture should have casters to aid in reconfiguring the room.

Brady believes that as an emerging instructional strategy, flipped classrooms are making a positive learning difference. Also, learning environments are not neutral in the learning experience, and furniture is an effective design component used to provide context in the built environment. Read the full article here.

Thinking of flipping your classroom soon? Check out our inspiration page for ideas to get started.

Posted by lbelsito@miencompany.com at 10:44 AM

Let us help design your space. Call (616) 818-1970 or email us.