Goodbye desks, hello pedal pushers

MERIDIAN — Remember classrooms with desks — the ones all lined up in rows?

That’s so 2000.

Welcome to Tracy Poff’s English classroom.

Behind the door of room 108 at Central Academy High School lies what Poff calls “the poffercize vision” — the classroom of the future.

Inside, 15 freshman and sophomores sit at kinesthetic desks, some pedal, stand and even sway back and forth on balance boards — all while working on literature projects.

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“If students have an active body and mind, they’ll retain more information,” Poff said.

Central Academy is an alternative school in the West Ada School District. It features a small-school environment for students in grades 9-12 who were not successful at their previous high school.

Poff has taught high school students for 17 years and is in her second year teaching at Central Academy, where behavior issues became a problem in her classroom.

Students walked out. They rack up discipline referrals. They disrupted teaching and learning.

Poff, looking for a way to control student behaviors, turned to a kinesthetic classroom, a learning environment that promotes physical activity to replace nervous energy.

The desks look like normal desks, but are raised and have noiseless pedals beneath them so students can pedal while they work. If students don’t want to pedal, they can layout on yoga balls or use an elliptical that slides under the traditional desk.

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“I have zero behavior issues in my class so far this year,” Poff said. “Students are releasing energy that they would normally do in a different way, like fidget in a desk.”

Besides helping students stay focused in class, Poff believes a kinesthetic approach can improve mood and building relationships.

“This approach has done wonders,” Poff said. “Students are working and learning.”

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Poff received two grants and used district money to pay for the equipment, which cost $8,000.

“I love doing physical things as I work,” said Isaiah Brooks, a sophomore at Central Academy. “I stay more focused because I like to move around a lot.”