Learning on the Move: Node Chair Winners Share their Stories

Whether through discussion or application, students learn more when they fully participate in the process of learning. And when you invite students to actively participate in their learning environments, they take more responsibility for their performance in the classroom.

Active learning solutions, such a mobile chairs and desks, allow for multiple learning scenarios with quick, easy transitions from one teaching mode to the next, unlike traditional school desks and chairs.

This summer, Steelcase Education and the K-12 Blueprint gave away Node chairs to educators across the country. Node chairs keep students comfortable in a variety of postures and swivel to keep sightlines open between student and instructor, whiteboard, and other students.

We asked the winners of our Steelcase Education Node chair giveaway to share examples of the sorts of things they and their students have been doing with the chairs and here’s what we learned:

Kevin Brew
Steele Canyon Charter High School
Spring Valley, California

Kevin Brew is an 11th Grade educator who teaches College Prep and Honors US History paired with an AP English class. Steele Canyon Charter HS is a commuter school—meaning, very few students walk to school—comprised of roughly 2,100 students and 90 teachers. The student population is mainly Caucasian, English-speaking, with some students who come over the border from Mexico to attend school.

In terms of active learning practices, Kevin uses a lot of gallery walks and movement in his classroom yet had no flexible furniture solutions until receiving five Node chairs from Steelcase Education.

“I’ve been using the Steelcase chairs for my students who have 504 Plans and IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) and who go to my office to take tests in a quiet place,” Kevin says. “I think the Steelcase Education chairs would be great in any small classroom learning environment or at a school that uses them as part of their active-learning culture or identity.”

Jill Olson Pilon
Grafton Public School
Grafton, North Dakota

Jill Olson Pilon is a 7-12 FACS (Family and Consumer Sciences) Instructor at Grafton Public School in Grafton, North Dakota: a town of roughly 5,000.

Most of Grafton Public’s student body is Caucasian and Hispanic with a graduating class of—on average—50 students. “Money is very tight,” Jill says. “And most of our pre-K—12 students all work together under one roof.”

In the classroom, her students work in small groups, individually, and in labs. Jill thinks that active learning solutions such as Steelcase Education Node chairs and tables would be excellent additions to today’s classrooms.

“I only won the one Node chair, so the students need to take turns sitting in it…and they really like it! Steelcase Education chairs and tables would make it so much easier for students to turn and share or reteach information. My students also do a lot of planning together. I currently have heavy chairs that are difficult to move, and they really make noise when they’re dragged along the floor. Flexible seating is definitely crucial to implementing active learning.”

Miriam Kaufman
Silverado Middle School
Roseville, California

Miriam Kaufman is an 8th grade Language Arts teacher as well as an AVID College Readiness Coordinator at Silverado Middle School in Roseville, California.

Silverado Middle School is a 6-8 middle school with a student population of roughly 900. Student demographics are mostly Latino and Caucasian with approximately 60% on the free- or reduced-lunch program. Silverado Middle School is a Project-Based Learning school at various levels of implementation. Some of Miriam’s challenges include meeting 21st century skill requirements while also needing to improve test scores.

Miriam uses her Node chair as part of her collection of flexible seating, which includes: a butterfly chair, a bean bag, a stool, and some extra multi-purpose sitting solutions.

“Kids love active learning environments!” Miriam says. “They’re easy to implement, and— most importantly—they support learning!”

“Movement encourages focus and emphasis on the purpose of the task,” Miriam says.

“When students face me, they know that I’m giving direct instructions. When they face each other, they know that it is time to collaborate. In AVID, students need to move into small groups to surround a standing whiteboard for a routine called ‘Tutorials’. In Tutorials, they refer to their notes and textbooks to mentor one another in a subject area that they’re struggling with. Movement also allows students to self-monitor, as I teach my students to identify the learning environments that work best for each of them.”

Students who need to work separately work in the Node chair, as well as students who need to easily move to form a group. Miriam’s students love the Steelcase Education Node chair, and either ask politely or argue about who gets to sit in it for the day. More Node chairs would make transitions into different learning configurations much more seamless in Miriam’s classroom.

“Active seating makes it easy to quickly form different groups and learning situations on the fly,” Miriam adds. “If I had a full set of Steelcase Education furniture, I could have all my students face me for whole-group instruction, then move into groups facing each other for group work, or face other parts of the room for various purposes. Just yesterday, it took at least five minutes for my students to move their desks around to form a group for a debate. If I had a class-set of Steelcase chairs, it would take five seconds!”

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At A Glance: 

About Steelcase Node Chairs

Mobility
The Node chair’s swivel seat gives students the freedom to shift focus throughout the room. And, since the personal surface swivels in tandem, items remain at their fingertips.

Storage
The base of Node school chairs provides a unique storage solution for backpacks and student belongings. This allows quicker and easier transitions between teaching modes.

Adjustable
The Node chair has an adjustable work-surface, providing a perfect fit for students of all shapes and sizes: even accommodating both left- and right-handed students.  

Versatility
The benefits of Node aren’t confined to the classroom. Node chairs support flexible learning and collaboration in the library, the training room, the lab and in-between spaces.

Related toolkits

Learn more now with materials from these toolkit and resource collections:

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