Introduction Background Assessment Floor Plan Rationale Evaluation Presentation References Conclusion

Middle School X Transition Space Redefined


Introduction

The bell rings. Doors open. Students emerge. The sound of chaos erupts all over campus. Middle school hallways are the scene of lots of activity. From passing period to teacher time outs - the corridors are rarely without students. Such unstructured meandering can often lead to issues. Fights, tardies, gossip are just a few common occurrences that take place in the halls between classes. Our group plans to tackle the transitional space of the middle school hallway and turn it in to an effective learning environment, therefore maximizing the space of the school and promoting education not just in the classroom but during passing period as well.

Our group is made up of the following experts:
  • Jason Barclay - computer
  • Nate Aldworth - computer
  • Andy Jensen - Audio/Lighting
  • Mechelle Reynolds - furnishing
  • Beth Rackliffe - layouts and ergonomics


Throughout our plan you will find:
1) A background on the middle school environment
2) A short needs assessment
3) A floor plan which we feel will improve the transitional space
4) The rationale for our design backed by theory
5) An evaluation of the effectiveness of our design
6) A link to our group presentation
7) A list of references used in our design


Background

hall1.jpg
typical school hallway
While there are many different school structures, we are going to focus on the indoor hallway. A typical hallway is often rather narrow with lockers on both sides. It is lit by panel lighting in the ceiling, and often has classroom entrances on both sides. As the students leave their classrooms and head to their next destination, the hallway is reminiscent of a small stream with fish trying to swim both up and downstream. Often the clustering is enough for students to be either tardy or feel rushed. It can be hard to get to a locker between passing periods, and even if a student can get to their locker, they often do not have time to wait for the mass of people standing in front of the locker to be done. Sometimes, students need to grab something from their bag, but do not have a free hand or a place to set their things down. At other times, they need to a quick and easy place to coorespond comfortable via computer, phone, or with a friend. This situation can cause unnecessary stress for students between classes.

Effective or not, we have all passed through a middle school hallway only to see a number of
hall2.jpg
hallway
students who have been timed out from class sitting outside the door. What is being done with these instructional minutes? The answer is usually nothing. The student has no place to work. If they are asked to bring a desk out - the display of dragging the desk takes away from the other students working in the classroom. If teachers are going to use the hallway as a place for misbehaving or unfocused students to go, it should be a place where learning can take place as well.

Middle School X is hoping to improve upon the educational conditions of the hallway with the use of a grant that has recently been allotted to them for educational improvements. The grant prefaces that the money must be used for innovative upgrades in the school that benefit the entire student body rather than one particular classroom. The administration decided to take a look at the structure of the school itself after reading the works of Malcolm and a number of other people writing about the benefits of improving the learning environment. They have turned to examples out of Universities who have sought to improve student performance by optimizing the space outside of the classroom. Our group was hired on to further research possible uses of the grant money.

Needs Assessment

Since any plan requires a needs assessment prior to creation, it was necessary for us to identify and speak with our stakeholders. There are several stakeholders for the hallway project: 1) administration/teachers, 2) students, 3) parents, and 4) funders. In the case of administration and faculty, we conducted a series of short interviews on what they see as the chief concerns with the hallways at Middle School X in their current state. The Vice Principal (who oversees much of the discipline) expressed concern over unproductive and often unsupervised students who are sent out of the room during class time. She said that the teachers often have no idea of the activities that they observe from the office when students are sent out. She also mentioned that a high number of her referrals came from passing period times when student horseplay turned into fights. The Principal expressed concern over reducing the current number of tardies. They had tried a number of things such as detentions and Friday Night School, but the tardies were still not at a level that she felt was acceptable. Although concerned about activies, several teachers complained about the need to observe in the hallway during passing periods. "We have so much we have to do before the next class, we can't spend the whole five minutes outside our door to keep kids moving to their next class and playing the campus security role." They explained that they often will send an aide into the hallway to work with a student when it is necessary to have a more quiet atmospher and some said it was the only place their aide could work one-on-one. They also expressed a desire to utilize this space for students who need to make up work.

Our assessment of student needs was conducted through a survey that was distributed to students during homeroom and collected by teachers. Many students complained passing periods were often crowded, and it was hard to get to their next class in time. In some instances, concerns of bullying and navigating around certain crowds were necessary. Some student said they wished they had somewhere to sit briefly and regroup, if they were waiting for their next class. Most stated that passing periods were mostly spent eating, getting to their next class, or communicating with fellow students about clubs and non-class happenings. When asked what could be done to help them get to class on time, many students said they didn't usually look at a watch during passing period and often did not know when the next class would start. Some admitted that they just forget about the time that has passed when they start talking to their friends. Many expressed difficulty in juggling their backpacks books and purses when attempting to retrieve and review items such as books, homework, and cell phones. Others expressed a need for outlets to charge and run various electronic devices such as laptops, phones, and calculators. The need to communicate with others was important to them during this time.

Information from parents was collected through a survey sent out in the parent newsletter. Although response was minimal, and those we did received were more than likely the involved parents to begin with, the parents chief concern was with safety. Some parents cited incidence where they felt their children were pushed or intimidated during passing period. Other parents whose sons/daughters had had to attend Friday Night School for tardies in the past thought that something needed to be done to remind students of the time left to get to class. They were sure if students were aware class started in a minute they would get there on time, and this would hopefully cut down on innappropriate tendancies. In addition, a few parents mentioned the instances where having discussions outside the classrooms were necessary, either with the teacher or with their child, and a chair might be accommodating.

Lastly, our funders concerns were relayed to us through the grant itself. The funders wanted money to be used in such a way as to improve the educational conditions of the school. This was not be used in a single classroom, since that would not benefit the entire school, but rather only students that were being taught by that teacher. It was not to be used on textbooks, faculty, or extracurricular activities. The funders were to be part of the process from start to finish: starting with proposal and blueprints and final with a itemized expense document. All money needed to go towards encouraging education and improving the learning conditions for students.

With all of the interviews and surveys conducted, our group noticed the following needs:
1) efficiently improve safety of hallways (without relying on teachers to give up all passing period)
2) reduce tardies by providing students with a reminder to get to class
3) improve the flow of traffic through the hallways
4) provide a place for students to sit or work if needed
5) give students an opportunity to rest or relax if needed.
6) find a way to improve students communication

Our group approached these needs from a variety of perspectives. The table below shows the suggestions made by each of our specialists to address the needs assessment of Middle School X.


Concern

Technology Suggestions
Audio/Visual/Lighting Suggestions
Furnishing Suggestions
Layout Ergonomics Suggestions
Safety

  • Cameras (closed circuit)
  • Flat panel screens that display red arrows for the proper exit route in the event of an emergency
  • Well lit space. Bright, indirect lighting and natural lighting will make the hallway safe during an emergency when large numbers of people need to move through it quickly.
  • Tables fold into walls, media station in wall to keep hallway free of clutter
  • Signs and instructions for setup and putting away media center.
  • Training for staff and students on operating the fold down center.
  • Countdown timer to ensure Media centers are cleaned up and put away prior to transition.
  • Fold down spring loaded benches accommodate seating if necessary to avoid students being tripped.
  • Clearly marked exit signs
  • Clearly marked fire extinguishers
  • Clear rules posted on hallway behavior and how to use the media stations
  • View windows to help teachers monitor media stations
Tardies

  • Flat panel screens that display countdown clock and starting time of next class.
  • Visual communications on monitors for clubs will prevent students from seeking out classmates and reduce tardies.
  • Cameras (closed circuit) will deter
  • Audio reminder of time left to get to class. Speakers mounted at the both ends of the hallway.
  • Countdown clock on LED TVs at each end of the room.
  • LED TV's have a longer life-span and use less energy than LCD TV's.
  • Spring loaded fold down hooks along walls and near lockers to allow quicker access to backpacks and handbags items
  • Countdown clock is large and easy to read
  • Colors change as time to next class approaches
  • Clearly posted consequences for tardies
Traffic


  • Motion sensors for lights to save money on electricity.
  • Lenoleum flooring is durable and easy for the custodial staff to clean
  • Store away furniture provides maximum room for walking in hallway
  • Lockers on one side of hall only to allow moving traffic on the other side of the hallway
  • Workstation tables foldout from wall
  • Fold down benches easily stored
  • Linoleum flooring easy on feet and reduces noise while still being durable
Learning

  • Flat panel screens that display upcoming events, announcements, reminders
  • Technology/media stations behind each foldout table
  • Media control allows screens to tune into one program
  • Outlets are present periodically in hall near fold down table tops.
  • Speakers behind fold out table
  • Indirectand natural lighting throughout the hallway. This type of lighting is bright, provides good color, is not harsh, and will keep the hallway from feeling 'gloomy.'
  • To help reduce noise we will have sound dampening material on the walls. They would be artistic and and brightly colored to promote a comfortable feel.
  • Media stations
  • Benches and Tables for working or collaborating
  • Space outside of each classroom for students to work
  • Space outside of each classroom allows aides to work with students in small group setting
  • Chairs and tables outside of classroom promote appropriate posture for comfort and reduced health problems


Floor Plan

Hallway

hallway3.jpg

You can see in this floor-plan that the lockers are only on one side of the hallway to limit traffic problems. The media stations, across from the lockers, are recessed and fold up into the walls. The media center consists of a fold down table and two benches large enough for 4 students. When open it reveals a full technology/media station inset into the wall. A more detailed view of the media workstation is shown below.

Media Workstation

workspace3.jpg

The media station would be comprised of a computer monitor with wireless internet access, and dvd/vcr capabilities. Students would be able to view movies they may have missed from days absent. It would have an additional lighting feature for more detailed use. Speakers would also be present. The media station would also have a mini laptop cart with four laptops for students to work on. These laptops would be connected to the internet through a wireless connection and would have wireless access to the printer in the teachers classroom. In order to ensure student safety, all laptops would have student filter software.


Rationale


Ergonomics/Layout specialist
Tessmer and Harris state, "the environment exerts a powerful influence on learning and behavior, even though we may not be aware of it or may choose to disregard it. (2)" As we developed our floor plan for the middle school hallway, we tried to keep the focus on an environment that would have a positive influence on learning. Ergonomics takes into account all of the aspects of the environment and makes sure that they work together to promote learning. Whether lighting, temperature, or seating, we had to make sure it was ideal. While some of these topics will be expanded upon later by the audio, computer, and furniture specialist, I will provide a brief insight into our choices from an ergonomic viewpoint.

The hallway floors will be a light gray linoleum in an attempt to dampen the general murmuring of students during passing period while still being easy on the feet. One study of 3000 students showed that 20% of 12th graders have shown some hearing loss due to noise levels in their environment. Gray has been shown to help when there is close visual work, since students may be reading silently in the hallway, then gray should be effective. Too much noise can lead to a stressful feeling amongst learners, so we wanted to attempt to dampen the sounds of passing period. The walls will be painted in a light blue since it has been linked to increases in test performance. In order for a student to know how they are suppose to act, they have to have a clear set of rules established. The signs that will be posted throughout the hallway will have text that is large enough for students to read and in a color that while catches the eye still promotes a calm environment. Signs will be highlighted with red and orange since these colors tend to catch attention and draw out emotion. (2)

The temperature of the hallway will be kept around 70 degrees as this was shown to be a temperature that maximize performance. (2)

The following table summarizes these ergonomic decisions:
Consideration

Ergonomic Decision
Rationale
Color

Use of grays and light blues for hallway flooring and walls
Promotes learning, keeps calm
Color

Rules and reminders in orange and red
Attracts attention and encourages emotion
Sound

Use of linoleum to dampen noise
Hearing damage noted in high school students
Seating

Rectangular tables at media stations
Promotes conversation
Temperature

Keep temperature between 66 and 70
Maximize learning at this temperature
Layout

Lockers on one side of hallway

Workstations fold into the wall
Allow moving traffic to have a side and people getting into lockers to have a side
Allow maximum space for traffic



Technology specialist

Accommodating formal classroom locations are more informal spaces (such as outdoor and hallway areas). Students spend a considerable amount of time outside of their scheduled classes. For the middle school student this includes passing periods, morning break, lunch period, and after the final bell rings ending school. Jamieson, et. al. states that on-campus teaching facilities are under utilized which leaves students to work in spaces (such as libraries) that are not generally designed for students to work collaboratively (page 6). Although the transitional space (hallway) is not generally intended for collaborative use, it can be given the proper technological availabilities.
Consideration

Technological Decision
Rationale
Student access to vital school info

  • Built-in touch screen computers (with limited web access)
  • Several LED flat panel screens
  • User access
  • Provides students with access to school bulletin, announcements, remote printing capability (to library or other location), email, etc. Social networking sites will be blocked. Student would be required to use their personal user-name and password to access. Ideally access would be blocked during class time.
  • Provides options for administration to quickly communicate with student body. Audio announcements are often hard to hear. Helps direct traffic during emergency situations.
  • Web access will be fire walled with tiered availability depending on who is logged in. For example, a student would be have the most web applications blocked while administrators will have full web access.
Vandalism/Computer abuse

  • Security cameras in place
  • Computer connected to an alarm
  • Computer access
  • Class countdown timer
  • Expensive technologies need to be protected.
  • Student login account required. There will specific punishments for students who abuse computer privileges, ranging from student ban from using the computers to school wide shutdown of all hallway computers (most extreme measure)
  • Because excessive student tardies could become an issue with computers located in the hallway, the computers will be equipped with countdown timers (a la an Internet Cafe or public library). When the class bell rings, the computers will automatically restart and be locked from students to login again without a teacher.
Speed and ease of use

  • Touch screen computers available
  • During high traffic times (between classes), students can quickly access pertinent information vital for an upcoming class
Space to work outside classroom

  • "Drop-down" media station with laptops and audio/visual component
  • This allows students to work individually (or in small groups) outside of the traditional classroom setting. Although this is a transitional space, it can be utilized during class periods when traffic is greatly reduced. Headphones would be provided to reduce noise and limit distractions.
  • This can be used for make-up work such as watching a video missed from a previous class or listening to an audio recording.


Audio/Visual/Lighting specialist
The decisions below are meant to address each specific consideration, and as a whole contribute to the creation of a comfortable and useful learning environment.

Considerations

Audio Visual Decision
Rationale
Audio

  • Artistic, brightly colored, sound dampening material hanging on the walls.
  • Speaker systems for each media station.
  • Speakers for TV's at each end of the hallway.
  • This is a high-traffic corridor so we decided that a floor covering like linoleum would be best because it is durable and easy to maintain. However, it is also a hard, reflective surface that will echo and add to the noise level in the hallway. Hanging sound dampening material on the walls is an attractive way to reduce decibel levels.
  • Small computer speakers will be included in each media station, as well as multiple headphone outputs so students have access to audio and can listen to it privately, if needed. Volume controls will be included in each media station.
  • There is one flat-panel television at the each end of the hallway. Both of these need a set of powerful speakers that can be heard throughout the hallway.
Lighting

  • Bright, indirect fluorescent lighting.
  • Accent lights over media stations.
  • Skylights in the ceiling.
Better lighting produces greater productivity.
  • Indirect, fluorescent lighting will be hanging from the ceiling. These will ensure that the hallway is brightly and uniformly lit at all times. Indirect lighting will reduce glare and the harsh feel of fluorescent lighting. It will also keep the hallway well lit at all times of day and in any weather condition.
  • Indirect lighting can be monotonous due to a lack of shadows and contrast. To liven up the hallway, we'll add pendant mounted, directional fluorescent accent lights. These will also ensure that the media stations are well lit for students working at them. Controls for these lights will be included in each media station.
  • Skylights will run the length of the ceiling to let full-spectrum natural light into the hallway.
Visual

  • LED, flat panel TV's inside at each end of the hallway.
  • LED televisions weigh less, have a longer life-span, and use less energy than their plasma and LCD counterparts. They cost more up front, but are cheaper to maintain. They can also show images from a computer without having it burn permanently into the screen.


Furnishing specialist
Consideration

Furniture Decision

Rationale
Media Center
pockettable-action.gif

Built in Fold out Table with attached bench seating

It was necesary to provide a learning environment outside the classroom which may be utilized by teachers, aides, and students during class time. With a media center that students can quickly and easily fold completely away we create an additional learning area. The model in the picture would have to be modified to include necessary media equipment. Use of the media center in the hallway will work well for middle school as they usually have longer periods than in the elementary setting.

Using a fold away system that students can transform easily will help to ensure quick setup in the case of a fire.

Symbols will be used on a checklist sign which would be clearly posted next to the media center to ensure that previous training is not forgotten and that anyone could easily operate the media center. Precautions will also be listed to deter students from improper use.

Schedules and cut-off timeframes will be posted for both teachers and near the media center to ensure the center is cleared prior to class transition.

Due to the training and precautions neccessary to ensure the media center stays in good working order, only authorized students and staff will be allowed to use the center. In general, parents and visitors will not be allowed to use the center.
Jump Bench/Seating
bench.jpg

Fold out padded bench seating

Students overwhelmingly requested a place where they could sit for a minute or two and talk to friends or prepare materials for their next class. Most research and videos viewed of school hallways had students sitting on the floor. Since safety is a key focus, having students and their materials up off the floor should eliminate some falling hazards. This type of seating is spring loaded and can hold 2-3 students and up to 600lbs.
Quick Tables
dl2013_folding-bracket-demo.jpg

Fold out padded bench seating

Students overwhelmingly requested a place where they could sit for a minute or two and talk to friends or prepare materials for their next class. Most research and videos viewed of school hallways had students sitting on the floor. Since safety is a key focus, having students and their materials up off the floor should eliminate some falling hazards. This type of seating is spring loaded and can hold 2-3 students and up to 600lbs.

Having fold down-spring loaded benches would also accommodate any parents needs as they may arise.
Hooks
Hooks.jpg

Spring-loaded belly height drop down desk tops near outlets

Students have many things to carry and they need a place they can access and utilize quickly where they can set their things down and free up some hands. Having tables located belly high, that are spring loaded, and drop down as needed, will give stundents a quick and easy platform to accommodate their needs. These will also allow them close access to outlets with which to utilize a laptop or plug in a phone. Some type similar to the photo, however, it would need to be spring loaded for immediate clearing of the hallway.









According to Johnson and Lomas, "a space may be deemed successful if it is used in the manner that the creators envisioned. Even better, the space may be used, productively, in ways that were not originally envisioned." (3) We envision the hallways of Middle School X as a continuation of the classroom. The hallway should be organized and promote learning. Students should no longer feel stressed as they hurry from class to class.

The first means of evaluation will be to analyze data. The office keeps records of tardies to class. We will compare the number of tardies prior to the hallway renovations with the number of tardies after the hallway renovations. A decrease in tardies would show that our improvements have had a positive impact. A significant decrease in tardies would almost guarantee that the change in the hallway had a positive effect on improving student attendance to class. This could be looked at in future years to show that the trend continues. The behavior records can also be analyzed. Since safety and horseplay were concerns in the past, we would hope to see that the number of students referred for problems during passing period will be reduced. We will also ask teachers to keep records of the number of times that they sent students to work outside. The hope is that teachers see the new hallways as an extension of the classroom and are able to effectively use it to have students work.

Before creating the hallway floor plan, we conducted a needs assessment. These surveys and interviews will be conducted again to help evaluate the remodel. We will ask administrators, teachers, students, and parents to provide information on how they see the hallways after a year. We would hope to see an increase in the feelings of safety in the hallways amongst all parties involved. We would also like students to report less anxiety regarding changing classes and going to their lockers. By combining the numerical data and the more subjective survey results, we will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of our design and look for places to make improvements.

The following table summarizes the evaluation means for each of the concerns found in the needs assessment:
Concern

Improvement Made
Evaluation
Tardies

  • Flat screens display colored countdown followed by verbal reminder
  • Compare number of tardies from before improvements to after improvements.
Safety

  • Rules clearly posted in hallway
  • Security cameras in hallways
  • Compare referrals from passing periods before and after improvements.
  • Survey results
Kids sent out of class

  • Work stations for groups of students to work
  • Survey results
  • Compare referral numbers from teachers who sent students out to work
Student frustration

  • Lockers on one side, countdown to next class
  • Workstations fold into wall, seating in hallway
  • Survey results

Presentation

Our presentation is viewable online through Google docs. Please click here to view.

Conclusion

While the effectiveness of any learning space is going to depend largely on the individuals using it, we hope that our design has provided the tools to meet the needs of our clients. As with any new technology, there will be a learning curve. Teachers will need to be trained on how to use the media stations, so they can effectively teach their students how to use them. This will include not only knowing how to pull the media station out from the wall, but also know the time frame during class when it is appropriate to send students. Students will need to be trained on how to use the computer stations during passing period so as not to make themselves late for class. They will be issued passwords that they are not to share. Misuse of the technology or repeated tardiness will result in the loss of computer privileges. The security will need to become familiar with using the closed circuit camera system to help them in their surveillance of the school. However, hopefully the posted warnings that the hallways are being monitored by a camera system will deter students from unacceptible behavior. It will still be left to the discretion of the administrators if teachers are required to monitor halls during passing periods, but our hope is that this could be a reduced or alternating duty with the use of the security monitoring system.

With this renovation, Middle School X will have one of the most, if not the most, technologically advanced hallway system. We hope that teachers, administrators, aides, and students will maximize the resources to make the new hallways not only an effective transitional space, but an effective learning space as well.

References

1) http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q=school+hallway&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=jaI2TIL7H8ijnQf2-qDiAw&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CCMQsAQwAA

2) http://www.aect.org/edtech/ed1/36/index.html

3) http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Review/EDUCAUSEReviewMagazineVolume40/DesignoftheLearningSpaceLearni/157984

4) floorplanner.com - used to create floorplans

5) Jameison, P., et. al. (2000). Place and Space in the Design of New Learning Environments. HERDSA (Higher Education Research and Development). 19:2, 221-237.

6) http://www.designshare.com/Research/Lighting/LightingEnvr1.htm

7) http://asumag.com/mag/university_outfitting_classrooms/

8) http://www.fastcompany.com/1598539/re-designing-education-trung-le

9) http://www.ergonomics4schools.com/lzone/light.htm

10) http://www.coe.uga.edu/sdpl/researchabstracts/visual.html

11) http://www.pockettable.com/pockettable.htm