The Challenges: Interaction, Collaboration and More
West Aurora School District 129, located in Aurora, Illinois, serves as a prominent educational institution dedicated to providing quality education to its diverse student population of approximately 11,000 students speaking 65 languages. With a commitment to innovation and enhancing the learning environment, the district embarked on a transformative journey by installing ActivWall by Aurora Storage Products in three of its schools – Hall Elementary School, Washington Middle School, and Smith Elementary School.
In alignment with its commitment to stay at the forefront of educational innovation, West Aurora School District 129 identified several challenges within its classrooms:
- Interactive Learning: Traditional classroom settings often struggled to engage students actively in the learning process.
- Limited Collaborative Spaces: The need for collaborative spaces was essential for fostering teamwork and creativity among students.
- Optimizing Learning Technology: Integrating advanced learning technologies to enhance teaching methodologies and student outcomes.
The Solution: ActivWALL by Aurora Storage Products
To address these challenges, West Aurora School District 129 opted for a cutting-edge solution – the installation of ActivWALL by Aurora Storage Products in three of its schools. In 2023, working with architects, Studio GC and Aurora Storage dealer, Interiors for Business, Dr. Angie Smith, Assistant Superintendent of Operations for the District, implemented ActivWall as a pilot program in Elementary, Middle and High School classrooms to evaluate the ability of ActivWALL to address the challenges identified by the District. The pilot was so successful that the District is now preparing to roll out ActivWALL in classrooms across the District’s 18 schools.
“The beauty of ActivWALL is that it can fit multiple solutions. We’ve used it in Pre-K, LMC and High School CTE spaces and it’s very versatile. It’s so customizable it works in every classroom setting we tried. It literally adapts to every environment,” says Dr. Smith.
District 129 was able to use ESSER funding (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) and Title 1 funding to purchase ActivWALL units for classrooms. Title 1 is a federally funded program which provides supplemental funds to schools to assist eligible students meet their educational goals. Dr. Smith explains: “Because ActivWALL is “furniture” we were able to use Title funds to purchase ActivWALL. But it would also be a great target for a PTO or PTA to fund – something they could point to and see the benefit of their efforts in the classroom.”
Another challenge faced by the District is the age of buildings. “We have schools built in the 1950’s and others built in the 2000’s. And no matter when the school was built, there is never enough storage. ActivWALL uses the vertical plane to maximize density and, in doing so, reduces the visual noise and clutter in the classroom,” Dr. Smith explains. ActivWALL works just as well in the old buildings as it does in our newer buildings.”
ActivWALL Features and Benefits
ActivWALL can transform the individual classrooms or the entire district by focusing educators on Active Learning strategies engaging students in activities that require them to participate, discuss, analyze, and apply concepts. ActivWall facilitates the shift away from passive listening and focuses on hands-on experiences.
A shift towards student-centered learning emphasizes tailoring education to individual student needs, interests, and learning styles. This approach encourages active participation, critical thinking, and self-directed learning, which supports student agency in the classroom. Project-based learning shifts the focus from isolated subjects to interdisciplinary projects. Students work on real-world projects, applying knowledge and skills to solve complex problems. ActivWALL promotes collaborative, project-based learning allowing students to apply knowledge and skills to solve complex problems as a team. Educators can configure ActivWALL into zones for multiple groups of students work on individualized material simultaneously – increasing the effectiveness of the classroom.
ActivWALL offers a unique configuration, an exclusive presentation area that enables students to enhance their skills in a dedicated space, either for the full class or in small group settings. ActivWALL Office module creates additional classroom learning space by providing a teacher office within the ActivWall. Desktop, lighting, electrical power and seating can all be available or easily hidden behind the sliding white board.
Literacy is a fundamental tool in the classroom, providing a strong foundation for learning, critical thinking, and comprehension of complex concepts. ActivWALL provides a literacy functionality to the classroom environment, acting as a wall when needed but transforming into an expansive in-room library when pulled out. This incredible feature allows for storage of up to 350 books per pull-out Pivot Wall, providing students with a cornucopia of literary treasures right at their fingertips— without ever leaving the classroom! The Pivot Wall ensures that no student is left behind, regardless of their reading level or background.
The district conducted a thorough needs assessment to identify specific requirements for each school – Hall School, Washington School, and Smith School. ActivWALL installations were customized to meet the unique needs of each school, ensuring a tailored approach to technology integration.
Comprehensive training programs were implemented to equip educators with the necessary skills to leverage ActivWall effectively in their teaching methodologies.
The installation transformed traditional classrooms into dynamic, collaborative spaces, encouraging active student participation. ActivWALL seamlessly integrated with the existing curriculum, providing teachers with a platform to create interactive lessons that catered to diverse learning styles.
Results and Impact
ActivWALL’s interactive features significantly increased student engagement, fostering a more immersive learning experience.
ActivWALL’s collaborative spaces promoted teamwork and creativity among students, preparing them for real-world challenges. Educators reported feeling empowered by ActivWALL, allowing them to deliver more dynamic and interactive lessons. The district observed positive outcomes in student performance, with increased interest in subjects and improved academic achievement.
West Aurora School District 129’s strategic decision to install ActivWALL by Aurora Storage Products in Hall Middle School, Washington Elementary School, and Smith Elementary School has proven to be a transformative initiative. By embracing cutting-edge technology, the district has successfully created an innovative learning environment, reinforcing its commitment to academic excellence and student success. This case study serves as a testament to the positive impact of integrating advanced educational technologies in fostering an enriched and dynamic learning experience.