WEST CALDWELL, NJ - The Caldwell-West Caldwell Education Foundation (CWCEF), a community-based, non-profit organization who awards grants to the Caldwell-West Caldwell school district, is funding an innovative “stand-up desk” concept, AlphaBetter Desks, at Wilson Elementary School in West Caldwell.
The AlphaBetter desks, combined with the patented Swinging Pendulum, are gaining popularity throughout the U.S. because they aim to increase students’ focus, self-esteem, fitness, and posture - permitting students to literally stand up for learning.
The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City recognized the innovative design, and the importance of fidgeting, by displaying the AlphaBetter desk in one of their exhibits. According to the Why Design Now exhibit, the AlphaBetter Desk is built on research showing that fidgeting will burn 100 to 800 calories a day, and that children focus more, learn better, and disrupt the classroom less when they have a way to channel their energy into movement.
Also, in the book, Fidget to Focus, co-authors, Roland Rotz, Ph.D. and Sarah D. Wright, M.S., A.C.T., explain that “fidgeting is a rhythmic sensory stimulation and our body’s natural way of activating our under stimulated brains to facilitate focus.” Fidget to Focus reminds us that adults have the freedom to move around, change tasks, and take breaks to stay focused while children in the traditional classroom do not. There are many articles supporting the use of stand-up desks for both focus, self-esteem, reduction of childhood obesity, and promotion of proper posture.
Two local Wilson School elementary teachers, Jennifer Emmolo and Jaclyn Ginex, applied for, and were awarded, a grant through the CWC Education Foundation to test six AlphaBetter Desks in their classrooms. “The desks are a huge hit,” according to Principal Scott Keena. “Just asking the kids about them brings a big smile to their faces. The fidget bar is a great invention. Students who need to do something physically while at their desk finally have something that is not disruptive to those around them. Students are a bit higher up and claim they see better, the desks also eliminate that stiff feeling we all get when sitting at a desk for a long period of time, and students feel the stand-up desks help them to concentrate more.”
Their teachers agree. Emmolo explained: “We frequently observe students engaged in their work, while at the same time rapidly swinging the fidget bar back and forth. The AlphaBetter Desks give them the opportunity to stand or sit while using the fidget bar and we noted the students are using the bathroom and water fountain less. I wish we had a classroom full of these Stand-Up desks so every student could utilize them every week!”
Ginex added: “Students who are not using the Stand Up desks continue to sit on their knees, stand and fidget at their desks. I don’t see these distractions from the students who use the Stand Up desks. I couldn’t be happier with them!”
Since both classrooms currently have three Stand Up desks, the students rotate between standard and AlphaBetter desks. According to one student, Thomas Cader: “I wish that I was in the high desk this week because I want to stand up while I work.” Another student, Caitlin Egan, agrees: I like the high desks because fidgeting is helpful. I like sitting up high.”
The teachers are assessing student behavior, in the traditional vs. Stand Up desks, using a rubric to compare actions such as slumping over desks, hand and seat fidgeting, eye contact, and students getting out of their seat. If the results are as positive as the preliminary testing shows, it is likely more desks will be installed in the Caldwell-West Caldwell classrooms.
The AlphaBetter desks were originally designed by teachers in cooperation with the president of an ergonomic manufacturer, Sunway, Inc., and are currently distributed by Safco Products.
From left: Third graders in Jen Emmolo’s class at Wilson Elementary School
Thomas Cader, Christina Cerreto and Cailin Egan
Credit: Mary DeBonis Soccio
President MaryAnn Campion
The Caldwell-West Caldwell Education Foundation is a 501(C)(3) independent, non-profit, community-based organization designed to provide supplemental, ongoing centralized funding to the Caldwell-West Caldwell School District, which is not currently available through federal, state and local public sources. Donations to the CWCEF directly fund the CWC School District and may be tax-deductible.
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