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New Jersey School Creates Flexible Classroom Environment for Children with Special Needs

The Newmark School, a private, not-for-profit school for children with autism spectrum disorders, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, attention issues and other developmental disabilities, has redesigned its classrooms to encourage active and collaborative learning.

The school recently consolidated its K-8 and high schools in a new building in Scotch Plains, NJ. As part of the transition, the school administration purchased new technology and innovative classroom furniture to support different ways of learning. The school has implemented interactive whiteboards and short throw projectors in most classrooms, and the furniture is easy to move and adjustable for height and position. The students in the school have communication, sensory and other challenges, and the technology and furniture is intended to help the school meet the children's special needs.

The Eno interactive whiteboards from Steelcase work with a short throw projector. Students and teachers can write on the whiteboard with dry erase markers, or up to three people at a time can work together on the whiteboard using a bluetooth-enabled stylus. The school also implemented Steelcase's media:scape high definition video conferencing tool, which supports sharing and collaboration between student computers, even in the same room.

Students do their work in Steelcase's Node classroom chairs, which feature an adjustable seat and armrests; an adjustable built-in work surface with a built-in cupholder; under-seat storage; and caster wheels for easy movement. Students at the school rearrange their Node chairs as needed throughout the day to work individually or in small or large groups.

According to DS&D, the interiors solutions company that implemented the technology and furniture at the school, "the dynamic nature of the classrooms at Newmark utilizes both technology and new methods of classroom collaboration to facilitate the different ways of learning and integrates active learning spaces throughout the campus," and "the incorporation of technology and innovative furnishings has enhanced The Newmark School's ability to increase student outcomes."

A video produced by Steelcase about The Newmark School can be found on YouTube.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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