J. J. Daniell Middle School Students Dive into Collaborative Learning

Flashback two decades, one decade, or to just a few years ago and students opting to write on their desks, instead of on paper, would be a quick way to upset a teacher. That’s not the case today inside J. J. Daniell Middle School’s Shark Tank. When peeking into the remodeled space, you’ll see students doodling ideas atop the whiteboard desks as they collaborate on group projects. Students are able to reconfigure the whiteboard tables to match their group size and transform the seating arrangement into a more compatible workspace for their needs. 

Anchored to the walls, the new touchscreen computers allow students to more easily conduct research together.

“My favorite part [of Shark Tank] is the touchscreen computers. They are moveable and adjustable to your height where you feel comfortable enough to work. Two people can touch them at the same time,” explained eighth grader Gabby.

Gabby prefers to work on the touchscreen computers because she thinks they will help her focus more on what she is learning.

According to Gabby, other students like the tall tables stationed in the second room where there is a large TV that students can connect to their smartphones to share information with the whole room.

It was Shark Tank’s new technology and white board tables that most impressed Gabby’s eighth grade classmate Cameron.

Eighth grade math teacher Brian Lewis, who was responsible for the evolution of Shark Tank, treasures a different aspect of the renovated space.

“My favorite part of the room is the ability to spread our students out,” Lewis said.

According to Lewis, space can be tight in traditional classrooms, but now teachers have the ability to sign up to use the Shark Tank to give their students more flexibility and access to newer technology when they are working on class projects. They can also squat on one of the room’s flexible seats or snag a laptop from Shark Tank’s laptop cart.

The design of Shark Tank reflected what Daniell teachers said they needed for their students. However, the primary masterminds behind the revolutionized space were Daniell students.

A former group of Daniell students, who are now in high school, proposed the idea of having a space where they could work on projects together. The space that would be transformed into Daniell’s Shark Tank was originally two unused classrooms. Daniell students voted on their favorite name and design for the space. A grant and extra SPLOST funds helped fund the rooms’ redesign including the new technology. Parents and students helped get the room ready. They painted the rooms and designed the aquatic artwork that hangs on the walls.

“Doing work in [Shark Tank] is going to be a real improvement over normal ordinary classrooms. It is going to be a lot more fun, I think,” added Cameron after he gave tours of the new space to parents and fellow students.