MMS new upper learning space

Victoria Kunc, Staff Writer

On December 3, the middle school introduced a new upper learning space–an innovative space that allows students the opportunity to work on a task with their team or independently.

 Construction began at the end of July. The five-month process involved a nearly complete demolition of the former Upper Gym and connecting locker rooms.

The new space has flexible, comfortable seating including benches, ottomans, individual tables, and booths.  The tables and walls offer writable surfaces.  There is an area with a small raised stage and interactive TV for student presentations.

The large space is divided into several smaller spaces. The mezzanine offers three small conference rooms for groups to work. The lower area features a larger conference room as well as several nooks that allow for distraction-free work. 

The remodel included turning the old locker room in a small audio/video studio teacher workroom space as two VR (virtual reality) rooms. 

With different rooms for different tasks, Mr Destino explains, “Kids will love it; there are areas for noise, and areas for quiet. It gives many options for students.” 

Mr. Destino explained the purpose of the renovations.  He explained that the upper gym wasn’t being used often.  It was simply used for some intramurals, archery, and wrestling practice.  They decided therefore to “create that space to enhance all-access learning here at Mayfield.” 

The upper gym renovations are not the first change to Mayfield Middle School. The lunch room underwent a drastic transformation, becoming a more open area, and the library has also become a more flexible learning area. Additionally, new furniture recently arrived for the courtyard.

Mr. Destino says, “We wanted to create spaces within the building to promote learning…These are all spaces for kids to be flexible in and take ownership of their learning.”  

The district’s new All-Access Learning initiative focuses on students having more choice and voice regarding their learning.  This has led to more “self-paced” learning–a method in which, instead of students all working on the same thing at the same time, students who grasp the concept can move ahead, while students that don’t grasp it can conference with their teacher separately.

This new space allows students to get comfy and work on their assignments at their own pace.  With content easily-accessible through Schoology, students can often work independently, which allows teachers to conference with others.  Students don’t have to move through traditional classes and sit in a traditional desk.  Their work is available. Their teachers are available. And now there is a space available to accommodate this type of independent learning. Mr. Destino explained. “I think we can all agree that the traditional classroom rows and chairs, with a fifty minute schedule is not the best way to learn.”

The new upper learning space will be available for all teachers and teams to access for a variety of purposes, but it will be used frequently for the STEM circuit.

Mrs.McGarry is excited about “being able to have a large collaborative space for STEAM and STEM students to work on collaborative projects together.”  The space will allow students to work on the vinyl cutter and the CNC machine. Students will access the virtual reality room to use a program called Tilt brush experience. The area also provided a more practical space for coding and creating with Spheros. Mrs. McGarry says that the large space provides “an easier way for all of us to have all three of our courses together, so that they can collaborate, design, create, and build.” 

Art teacher Mrs. Vokic likes that the space gives students “the choice and flexibility to go from one area to the next, in a very fluid time frame, instead of waiting for a class period to end to do the next step.” She adds, “They can just move around in the space instead of just our classroom. Students have way more choices in front of them in one space.”

Mr. Yasenosky, who teaches digital communications and video production said, “We have a great opportunity to use some pretty incredible technology.”  He explained the virtual reality rooms: “There are two rooms and in each room there is one set of Oculus Rift VR products.You’ll have the goggles and hand controllers and in each room there are two giant screen TVs. If I’m on the VR, you can watch and see what I see on the televisions. So that’s cool, but there are two TV’s so you can fit more people in there, and they can watch what you’re doing.”

There are also plans for the new video room as well.  It is equipped with a green screen, high-quality microphones coming from the ceiling, and a small control room. “Hopefully we’ll shoot a morning television show. I know I’m going to jump in with both feet and love it.”

“The opportunities are really whatever we make of them. We are fortunate to have this opportunity…This is our time to learn,” said Yasenosky.

Watch the video to check out every room and get all the details!