The active classroom: where the classroom supports the teaching

The active classroom: where the classroom supports the teaching

Vammarskolan is a Swedish school that has received well-deserved attention in recent years for its innovative methods and impressive results. Through the Pulse Project, they showed that daily pulse-raising physical activity increases students' reading comprehension and maths skills. After that, the educators behind the project took their methods one step further by creating active classrooms, a school project to which AJ Products had the honour of contributing.

Pulse training improves school results

The Pulse Project was started by four teachers at Vammarskolan who wanted to optimise student learning based on findings about how the brain is affected by physical activity. When the trial was carried out across three academic years, the results showed that there was only one class in the school where every student was passing every subject: the randomly selected class that had extra pulse training three days a week (in addition to the two days a week when P.E. was already part of their timetable). The result spoke for itself – and has continued to do so. Since the school rolled out pulse training for the entire secondary school, its results have seen continuous improvement.

Woman with a pulse monitoring belt around her waist
School children playing sports in school gym

How do we bring the benefits into the classroom?

When pulse training became the norm, the teachers asked themselves: how do we take the experience further to maximise learning when in the classroom? It was clear from the beginning that the answer would be all about learning in motion.

“We learn from our feet upwards”, says Mats Nahlbom, one of the founders of the project. Movement and learning belong together; this has become a pillar of teaching in the active classroom.

When the school implemented the new concept, AJ Products was asked to provide suitable furniture. We said YES, did some thinking and returned with a proposal that responds to the needs of the innovative teaching method.

Do you need help with redesigning your space? Click here!

Girl working at a classroom desk
Two students at a whiteboard

School furniture that suits the teaching methods

The students work in twos or threes and learn by sharing and questioning each other's knowledge. The active classroom is furnished with sound-absorbing triangular school tables that are perfect for putting together in the configurations needed for this style of learning, but they are also easy to move apart during tests.

Standing up to work wakes up the body and facilitates learning, so the glass writing boards along the walls play an important role during lessons. This way of working also gives the teacher a better overview of the room.

The opportunity to vary their posture makes it easier for students to stay focused on the subject. That’s why, the school chairs have an ergonomically designed seat that lets students sit comfortably and in a variety of positions. In addition, there are also several small sit-stand desks with motion stools and even a breakout sofa.

Overall, the flexible school furniture makes it easy for students to vary their posture, which helps them concentrate. It also makes it easy to rearrange the classroom as needed to suit different learning activities.

Two students sitting at classroom desks supervised by a teacher

The active classroom: four key points

  • Collaborative learning means that students learn by working together and helping each other.
  • Since learning is affected by physical movement, numerous tasks are performed standing and/or walking.
  • Being able to vary their working position and get moving in the room makes it easier for students to focus on the task. This is supplemented with "brain breaks", short breaks that oxygenate the brain and boost energy levels.
  • When students use the writing boards on the walls to work, it is easier for the teacher to see who needs help.

Find out how to set up an active classroom to improve physical health

A sequel is in the works

After a few years of use, it’s clear that the active classroom is very popular. Students like the freedom of movement it gives them and are pleased to be able to change how they sit and how they work. The teachers appreciate the overview it gives them of the classroom and also see the benefits of being able to help several students at the same time because they usually work in groups instead of individually.

 “Adults have height-adjustable office furniture to be able to perform at their best. With the active classroom, we want to give school students the same opportunities”, says Daniel Hermansson, one of the founders of the Pulse Project.

The active classroom is subject-neutral and has so far been used for language teaching and mathematics. More subjects will follow: the goal is to have another active classroom ready by the start of the 2022/23 school year.

Teenage girl exercising in a gym

The Pulse Project – how it works

All secondary school students have pulse training three days a week (in addition to their normal P.E. lessons). To get the full effect, the students should workout at 70% of their maximum heart rate for at least 20 minutes. The training is done in various ways: via team sports, or individually with the help of rowing machines, exercise bikes, treadmills, etc.

The project was started by Mats Nahlbom, Daniel Hermansson, Daniel Kristoffersson and Mike Andersson after they heard a neuroscientist talking about learning and the connection between increased physical activity and better school results. The quartet were, among other things, inspired by Harvard professor John Ratey's book "S.P.A.R.K." and of practical examples from Naperville Central High in Chicago.

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