Active Learning is an approach to instruction where students engage with the material they’re studying–through writing, talking, listening and reflecting–in order to truly understand content. Active Learning requires students to do more than just passively listening and memorizing, so an active learning classroom is designed to encourage flexibility and collaboration.

Out of more than 550 applications, 15 schools across North America will receive classroom redesigns as recipients of Steelcase Education’s 2017 Active Learning Center Grant. Red Thread is proud to be working with two of the 15 Grant winners! This summer, we will be installing Steelcase Education active learning classrooms at the University of Massachusetts Boston (Boston, MA) by our Boston team and at Mount Desert Island High School (Bar Harbor, ME) by our Portland team.

In its third year, the grant program supports both educators and students by creating a learning environment that fosters engagement, collaboration and creativity. The grant, valued at $65,000, allows recipients to choose from one of four active learning classroom types. It not only covers furniture, design and installation, but also training on furniture usage and pre- and post-occupancy assessments of the new spaces.

Active Learning Classroom 1Adjustable height desks create tiered rows for easy and equal viewing

steelcase education active learning classroom with adjustable height desksBenefits:

  • Students have the choice on where to sit and learn, and options for different postures
  • Steelcase Verb personal whiteboards provide writing surfaces at each desk to easily share ideas and reinforce information
  • Instructors can design viewing angles for equal content access
  • Instructors can easily monitor students

Active Learning Classroom 2Informal, versatile space encourages exploration and problem solving

steelcase education active learning classroom that encourages group collaboration


  • Face-to-face seating encourages student engagement and team collaboration
  • Allows informal sharing, like casual conversations between students, and formal sharing, like critiques or design reviews
  • Provides large height-adjustable tables for building and prototyping
  • Steelcase Thread makes power accessible by bringing it up off the floor to user height where no other power source may exist

Related: Power up with Steelcase’s Thread!

Active Learning Classroom 3All-in-one classroom creates zones to support key activities

steelcase education active learning classroom with ergonomic and lounge seatingBenefits:

  • Ergonomic chairs allow students to move and huddle easily, refer to content in any direction and stay comfortably focused and engaged
  • Lounge seating provides a breakout area for mentoring sessions or informal collaboration
  • Steelcase Verb personal whiteboards encourage student creativity, plus provide privacy during assessment

Active Learning Classroom 4Ultimate choice and control for students and instructors

steelcase education active learning classroom with mixed seating and tables and whiteboards


  • Mixing seating and tables offers students the choice for the best worksurface for their needs
  • Angled tables at stool height give easy view of each student
  • Premium whiteboard supports analog co-creation and tools for collaboration

Related: 2015 Active Learning Center Grant
“Awardees were chosen because of a demonstrated commitment to active learning,” said Craig Wilson, Director of Market Development for Steelcase Education. “Research shows that space impacts behavior and these classrooms will help a new group of teachers and students explore the learning possibilities an interactive space can bring.”

Congratulations to Mount Desert Island HS and UMass Boston – we look forward to hearing how your students respond to their new classroom!

Contact us to learn more about how active learning can impact your students!