Gum Under the Desk

There is a new product on the market called B.O.T.S which acts as an organizational tool for flip-top elementary school desks.  The product has removable dividers so teachers and students can fit their supplies in an orderly way.  It is available online at and prices vary per order size.


Since last post dealt with school desks that were ornamental but not neccessarily comfortable, I started searching for a desk that is both fashionable and functional.  I think I found a good one to share with you-The Perch Desk.

The Perch Desk adjusts to the user and the desk is tilted so that students don’t have to lean over to read.  Here’s a diagram of a students posture while sitting in the Perch:

I’m happy to find that there are desk engineers out there that are looking at new possible solutions to healthy seating. 

“It is designed to increase productivity, health and well being, with consideration also given to storage, cleaning, stackability, aesthetics, safety and cost.” –Kyle Sherer

The thing I appreciate most about modern school desks is the design and ingenuity that has evolved from such a simple concept: a chair with a writing surface.  However, when I look at some of these desks with their cool designs and bright colors, I see a work of art; I don’t always see that the desk is comfortable.  This is a problem as students need to feel comfortable in the classroom to keep them alert and on task.  The main focus should always remain on the functionality of the desk.  While many are beautiful works of art, they may not be serving the needs of the student.  This is my concern of the Rossin L@p Chair pictured below.  Although it can hold a laptop, it looks like it would be very uncomfortable on one’s back.  Back-related issues develop frequently when one is not sitting properly in a chair, or forced to sit awkwardly because of the design of the desk.  It’s just something to keep in mind because it may very alter the student’s posture and health in the future.

Many of us take for granted the things we have at our fingertips today: food, clothing, electricity, a roof above our heads-and school desks.  Yes, school desks.  American Civil Engineers of the 506th Squadron based in Kirkuk, Iraq took on a project started by the 446th Civil Engineer Squadron of refurbishing old school desks for a poor Iraqi school district.   In this particular district, the children sit two students to a desk.  Technical Sgt. Douglas Shelton was working on the project  and came up with a innovative quality to add to these two-seater desks, “I [also] put dividers in the compartment underneath the desktop so they can feel like they have their own personal space,” Shelton said. “I’d do anything to help the kids. I’ve seen them at the gates begging for stuff and it just breaks my heart. It’s scary seeing kids live like that.”

If you have a school desk or other items that can be reused, you can donate to The Salvation Army.

After WWII there was an incredible surge in American manufacturing as soldiers came home from the war to work and start families.  America started to increase its independence by manufacturing its own goods.  But those glory days are long over.  These jobs that were once high-paying and steady, are now unreliable and sparse.  This includes the furniture industry as well.  Steelcase has outsourced to Australia, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.  The reason that these companies have outsourced is because of the cost of labor, union influence, and laws.  Besides that, competition cannot exist if people can’t afford to buy your products.  These moves seem inevitable and I won’t be surprised when the rest of the manufacturing industry follows.

I’ve become curious of this recent “green” trend happening in businesses and manufacturing plants.  I wonder if there are any desk manufacturers that use LEED Certification.  Here are some of the things I’ve learned about the LEED process:

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

  • It encourages building your business in an area that is already developed
  • Should try to blend into the environment the building is in
  • Building must use limited amounts of water
  • Requires efficient use of energy
  • Must be made of sustainable materials
  • Has to have good air quality within the building itself
  • Innovation and design and new efficient technology gives your building bonus points

To learn more about LEED, click here.

How classroom furniture is arranged can make a big difference on how students learn.  Here are some positives and negatives on the different styles of arranging classroom furniture:

Traditional Straight Rows:

  • These are more teacher-controlled.
  • Easier to see whether students are paying attention or acting out.
  • Group work is not encouraged in this type of setting.

Horse-Shoe Shape:

  • Makes all of the students feel included in discussion
  • Keeps students on their toes; they can’t hide in this type of formation.
  • Is difficult to fit large classes into this shape.

Full Circle:

  • Includes everyone and encourages idea sharing.
  • Harder to control everything because teacher’s eyes can only catch so much.
  • More practical for larger classrooms.


  • Encourages group work, but usually with the same students
  • Must monitor each cluster’s conversation to make sure they stay on task
  • Great for brainstorming and team-building

Instead of picking just one way to organize your classroom, use all of these methods in your class.  Moving furniture will get your students out of their comfort zone and force them to interact with other students.  This will help them learn how to work with different kinds of people, a helpful trait when entering the workforce.


January 2018
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