Ad Spot

‘Edutopia’ likes Polak’s flexible classroom

MADISON – Emily Polak’s seating and decor approach in her classroom has grabbed the attention of  the Edutopia website and approval of her language arts students.

Polak decided on the redo at Bob Jones High School after reading about benefits of flexible seating. ” Many flexible classrooms were in elementary schools. I wanted to see if it would work in a high school setting,” she said. “I also strongly believed this setup would help my students feel less anxious and therefore enable them to settle into learning.”

She applied her ingenuity and Pinterest ideas within constraints of her resources by choosing affordable furniture pieces. Luckily, Bob Jones PTSA donated a $200 grant to purchase rugs, lamps and couches.

“Since I already love to bargain shop, that $200 went a long way,” Polak said.

Polak’s goal was a comfortable, cozy environment. She defined each seating area with a rug, lamp and furniture. White and colored Christmas lights soften harsh fluorescent lighting. Many wall decorations are Harry Potter-themed. Books-A-Million donated some decorations.

“Decorations tie into the content we’re reading, such as ‘The Hobbit.’ There’s no set color scheme,” Polak said. Walking into Polak’s classroom, one student compared the myriad of colors with Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

Recently, Edutopia (edutopia.org) featured Polak’s classroom. Assistant principal Amy Thaxton encouraged Polak to submit photos to Edutopia, which has been spotlighting flexible classrooms. Polak’s post received numerous compliments.

Next, Edutopia asked permission and published an article and photos for Polak’s classroom in a feature showcasing flexible classrooms around the country.

“One of the article’s most rewarding outcomes was how excited and supportive my students’ parents were,” Polak said. “I knew my classroom would be an easy way to show my students how much I cared about them, but what I didn’t consider was how appreciative the parents would be of this setup.”

“When my students enter my room, many cannot contain themselves and have to tell me right away how excited they are to be in my class. Even though they have just met me, through my room layout and decorations, they somehow know immediately they’re going to love this class,” Polak said.

Some students even brag to friends about sitting on couches during class. Polak did keep several desks for testing. “I was surprised some students prefer to sit in desks over the couches. It’s easy for students to transition back and forth,” she said.

In time, Polak hopes to phase out desks for tables and chairs.

“This will continue to be a great environment for my students,” she said. Polak teaches freshman composition, pre-advanced placement English 9 and Honors English 12.

Madison

Brooms, mops in Lions Club sale to raise funds for vision projects

Harvest

Local musicians to jam at Madison Street Festival

Madison

Trash Pandas fall 4-2, Tennessee evens series

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Athletic Hall Of Fame Accepting Nominations

Harvest

Railyard BBQ Brawl and Music Festival returns Oct. 29

Bob Jones High School

Tommy Overcash appointed to Madison Board of Education

Madison

Children vulnerable for troubled mental health, Cook says

Madison

Fast start leads Trash Pandas to 9-5 in playoff game 1 win

Harvest

Updating state’s 1901 Constitution on November ballot

James Clemens High School

Boynton champions languages with ‘A Seal of Biliteracy’

Madison

Jessica Penot to discuss ‘Haunted North Alabama’

Madison

MSF shows artistic influences at Artist Alley, Crafters Cove and Student Art Tent

Bob Jones High School

Bob Jones, James Clemens command National Merit totals for Alabama

Bob Jones High School

Coaches White and McGehee speak in ‘Sittin’ With the Supe’

Huntsville

Dr. Charles L. Karr named President of UAH

Madison

Trash Pandas clinch second half title with 5-2 win, playoffs start next week

Harvest

Master Gardeners set for Fall Plant Sale on Sept. 24

Madison

Senior center conducts food drive, ceramics sale

Madison

MSF doubles Children’s Area, changes shuttle stops

Madison

POLICE: Two men arrested after injuring woman in burglary attempt

Business

The Matt Curtis Real Estate website recognized with international award

Madison

Madison Visionary Partners and Opera Huntsville to present free opera program at Home Place Park

Madison Visionary Partners and Opera Huntsville to present free opera program at Home Place Park

Madison

Madison Boulevard paving scheduled for Thursday

Huntsville

Opera Huntsville to present ‘Bluebeard’s Castle’

x