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SOUTH GLENS FALLS — Additional classrooms outlined nearly four years ago have been completed at Ballard and Tanglewood Elementary School in South Glens Falls Central School District.

Eight new classrooms have been built in total, six at Ballard and two at Tanglewood, with another four being renovated at Ballard to match the newly constructed rooms.

The construction and renovations were first proposed in 2015, and now the “future-ready” classrooms have been designed and built with collaboration and technology integration in mind, according to the district’s Technology Integration Specialist Jerilyn Stellato.

“The design is so that any area in the classroom can be a learning space,” Stellato said. “The goal of these classrooms is to not know where the front is.”

Stellato said the new classrooms contain a multitude of features aimed at flexibility in instruction. Movable furniture, interactive hardware and walls that can be written on allow teachers to create an environment that changes with children’s needs and the content of their lessons.

The new technology has been a big hit with teachers and students, who agreed the new tools have added a new dimension to their teaching and learning.

Jen Moscola, a fourth-grade teacher at Ballard, said she has sectioned off parts of her classroom for different kinds of instruction and hasn’t had any problems adapting to her new tools.

“There’s a lot of variations of seating, and it’s great because the kids are able to move a lot and use some of that energy,” Moscola said, “And the Promethean Board is awesome. Every day I do something where I say, ‘Oh! I didn’t know I could do that!’”

Students of Moscola’s, Austin Charron, Isabella Spada and Samantha Santoro, said they enjoyed being able to move around and rearrange things as well, and appreciated the extra storage space in the new cubicles.

“We used to just have a big closet that everybody’s stuff went in,” Spada said, “And I like the wobbly chairs, you can actually stack them any way you want.”

The two classrooms at Tanglewood are slightly different, as they were designed with special education instruction in mind but have all of the same components in place.

Tanglewood Special Education Teacher Jennifer Neilands said on top of the new technology, there were little details that made an impact as well. She said the new classrooms had the option to dim lights rather than turn them completely off, which was important for students with different sensory issues.

The Tanglewood classrooms have an additional monitor on the opposite wall from the Promethean Board, so there can be multiple points of presentation also. This allows teachers to work with two different groups separately when the students are at different levels of learning.

Tanglewood Elementary Principal Matthew Conrick said the ideas behind the new designs have spread into other teachers’ classrooms, even though they’re not in a new space.

“We’re seeing teachers adopt simple things like different tables that give students a choice about where and how to sit,” Conrick said. “We’re seeing furniture catch up to the philosophy of being flexible with instruction.”

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Samuel Northrop is the education reporter for The Post-Star. He can be reached at snorthrop@poststar.com.

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