Some Byrnedale Elementary third graders got a pleasant surprise when they arrived at their classroom on a recent Friday morning.

That's because teacher Pam Denner had turned her room into a reading oasis as part of her effort to help her students succeed on their upcoming Ohio Third Grade Reading Guarantee test.

Mrs. Denner says her goal was to redesign the classroom to be more student-friendly.

“I looked at what the successful schools across the world were doing to help student achievement," she says. "I researched successful schools in the U.S. as well and what I found was that if students were comfortable while they worked, their achievement climbed."

She said adults need look no further than their local coffee shop for the concept she was going for.

"When you go to Starbucks, people can choose from a variety of seating options, and in turn, they will be able to work longer because of that level of comfort,” Mrs. Denner says.

She was able to fund the project through Donorschoose.org, getting most of the funding through the Byrnedale PTO and several private donations.

When students arrived for school on February 24, they found their room looked completely different than a typical classroom. They now receive their assignments or lessons on the community carpet and are now able to choose the seating that is right for them.

"There [are] many options available so that each student is comfortable and focused,” says Mrs. Denner.

Items now in the classroom include:
• A 20" HOKKI, an ergonomic stool that transforms stationary sitting into an activity, ideal for brainstorming sessions and other active sitting environments 
• A Backpatter’s seat, which provides cushioned back support and is ideal for reading a story on the carpet or for use with a travelling desktop
• A Giant-Sized Floor Pillow that is perfect for students who need to stretch their legs while continuing to work

Byrnedale Principal Christina Ramsey says the change in the students was immediate.

"The kids absolutely LOVED their new room and were working hard in their new seats all day," she reports about the first day.

Posted on March 7, 2017