Two teachers at Ison Springs Elementary in Sandy Springs have merged their classrooms and teach as a team.

The two fifth-grade teachers, Summer Mallory and Nick Thompson, were approached by their principal Sara White a year ago with an unusual proposal to eliminate the wall dividing their rooms and create a team-teaching environment in one large space, according to a press release.

An Ison Springs Elementary student gets to play basketball as a reward while teacher Nick Thompson, right, looks on. (Special)

“We took it and ran with it,” said Thompson in the press release, and they began to create what they now call the “21st Century Classroom” with funding from a Fulton Education Foundation grant.

While student scores on the Georgia Milestones, the state’s standardized test, have begun to rise over the years since the class began, the most noticeable improvements is increased positive attitudes towards attending school, Thompson said in the release

“Our students are more engaged in instructional activities and have become more collaborative, and notably, there are fewer behavioral concerns,” Thompson said.

Funds supported the wall removal and purchases of wheeled chairs and tables for flexible seating configurations, shelving and instructional materials to support the curriculum, according to the release.

In keeping with Ison Springs’ “Kindergarten to College” schoolwide theme, Mallory and Thompson created learning stations identified by various college and university flags. The class gathers in the “lecture hall,” followed by group work at one of the “universities.” Each learning area focuses on specific skill-building through games and technology. Rewards include regular high-fives, getting to shoot baskets in a sports arcade or wearing a superhero cape.

“Our goal was to establish a nurturing environment to support inquiry-based learning, problem solving, and critical thinking, and to enhance student collaboration,” Mallory said in the release.

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