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Old 09-14-2012, 08:31 AM
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Johnstown
Posts: 682
Did anybody else have those "pod" classrooms?

I mean the big, open areas with no closeable doors or any walls. We had 2 in my middle school, divided into 4 classrooms each. The "walls" were rolling bookcases that didn't reach all the way to the ceiling or the floor. If you were in a class with a soft-spoken teacher, you could hear the other 3 classes around you. I went to middle school (grades 5-8 in my school system. Roughly ages 10 - 13) in the early 80's in a school built in the mid-70's. By the time my brother, who is 6 years younger, got to the same building they had put in walls and doors.

What kind of weird fad was this? Do they still have these? What was it supposed to do? All it did for me was make in impossible to hear my English teacher. And as a bonus I got to have 2 history classes, my own and the one that went on during my English class.
Old 09-14-2012, 09:06 AM
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Rockville, MD
Posts: 2,770
I had Pods for 5th and 6th grade--this was in northeastern Ohio in the mid-'70s. We circulated through different class areas separated by partitions during the school day, or else everyone in the whole grade sat in the central open area.

I heard sometime afterwards that they closed the Pods up into separate classrooms, perhaps around the time my little brother was in those same grades.
Old 09-14-2012, 09:10 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: By the Caloosahatchee
Posts: 11,439
7 and 8 grade were like this for me. The english dept was a large area divided into several "classrooms" with rolling barriers/corkboards. The classes all had their backs to each other, though. and the barriers did a good job of blocking sound and visiblity. So not much chance of observing any other lessons. The math and history/social studies departments were the same way.

My elementary school had classrooms in pairs that were divided by those segmented walls that ran on tracks in the ceiling so that each pair could be turned into a larger single room.
Old 09-14-2012, 09:15 AM
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Posts: 3,692
An aunt of mine taught in a school that looked like that in the -70s. I visited her there once and I must say it was truly horrible. You couldn't hear yourself think because of the noise level.
Old 09-14-2012, 09:58 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: mystic water
Posts: 1,778
Yup, late seventies middle school. Open concept, no walls. No windows either, but one. The Principal had a big picture window in the second story office that looked over the entire school. If Mrs. C was standing there, you knew she was taking names, soon it'd be paddling time for a few unlucky ones. If the power went off for more than 30 minutes, they'd send us home. Can't work in the dark and can't breathe without ac. Part of the roof caved in after my time there, they just accommodated everyone by doubling up classes and starting a split shift, AM or PM school take your pick. Unbelievable but all the credit for any learning goes to the teachers who somehow made it work...
Old 09-14-2012, 10:01 AM
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Join Date: May 1999
Location: da UP, eh
Posts: 13,074
Yup, both the middle school and the high school I went to had these. The middle school's entire upper floor was like this, and the high school had one big area along with a larger part with traditional classrooms.

I think everyone hated them. Incredibly loud, and very much encouraged students to socialize with students in the next "room".

This would have been in the late 70s and mid-80s.
Old 09-14-2012, 10:11 AM
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Location: da UP, eh
Posts: 13,074
Heh, just for the heck of it, I looked up both my middle and high schools on Google maps. The middle school is just as I recall - it's literally a circle, with one small square tacked on that if I recall correctly is the gym. What were they thinking?!?
Old 09-14-2012, 11:34 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Posts: 1,730
We had pods in middle school. I remember having square dance lessons in the open area in between, and hanger upon hanger with collected pop tabs (back when they detached from the can) hung all over the place. There was some big number of them we were trying to get to, for what outcome I cannot remember. I kinda dug the pod thing.
Old 09-14-2012, 11:47 AM
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: 0x8000F12A
Posts: 494
Yep. The school I went to for half of second and all of third grade in the mid-1970s was brand new and built with "pods". I don't remember it being a big deal distraction-wise. I very recently read an article where they were remodeling the school to remove the "pods", which were described as a '70s fad.

Even when I was attending fifth and sixth grade gifted classes (in another, much older school building), the two separate classes shared a room and again, I don't remember a big distraction there either.
Old 09-14-2012, 12:29 PM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,465
I went to 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades in the same multi-age pod. Three classrooms with a big central area, and little hallways with a boys and girls bathroom in each one connecting the classrooms. In 6th grade at the middle school we had a pod with a classroom at either end and the common area in the middle.

Then I moved to Georgia in 1978 and was back in elementary school for 7th grade. (No middle school.) Regular classrooms with doors and desks lined up in rows. It was weird.

Last edited by TheChileanBlob; 09-14-2012 at 12:29 PM.
Old 09-14-2012, 01:43 PM
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 11,163
I had this too, from third through sixth grade. We had two pods in our school, and there was a contest to name them. The younger kids wound up in the "Mod Pod", while the older students were in the "Jet Set."

The idea was that you could group kids by ability for math and reading classes. It was incredibly loud.
Old 09-14-2012, 02:21 PM
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My elementary school had a half version of this. Each of the grades had their own big room, but there were these giant accordion things that went from floor to ceiling that separated it into three separate classrooms. There was a gap in the back that connected all three rooms. This was in the late 80s/early 90s. I suspect that what happened was that it used to be more pod-like, and then they retrofitted it when it went out of fashion. The school was in a circle, with the library in the middle.

I think of it whenever I navigate Ironforge. My teachers would be proud.
Old 09-14-2012, 02:31 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 5,889
In 5th and 6th grade (There was a school that had only these two grades) we had a "Math Lab" which was made by knocking out the two walls separating three normal classrooms. Seating was around large circular tables...probably 6 kids or so to a table, though I can't recall exactly. Seems like there were some cubbyholes with dividers around the edges where you could also work if the open area/tables were not working out for you. There may have been accustic curtains available to divide the rooms on rare occasions...can't recall that far back for sure.

Three teachers were available for individual instruction, grading assignments, etc. and there was a fourth "secretary" where you handed in complete assignments and got the next one. It was pretty much self paced, but there were targets, and anyone falling behind got additional attention from the teachers.

It was great for me, In 6th grade I got into a competition (not encouraged, but not really discouraged at all) with another boy, and we were chewing through the assignments like buzz saws. It was probably the only class where I wasn't having behavior problems in those years. I was eventually promoted to 7th grade at he won I guess.

Last edited by Kevbo; 09-14-2012 at 02:32 PM.
Old 09-14-2012, 02:48 PM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Arizona, USA
Posts: 2,816
We had some in high school, I'm guessing to handle overflow population. We had a lot of kids and there were no empty rooms now that I think about it. I took Health class in one.
Old 09-14-2012, 02:58 PM
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My high school burned to the ground my senior year. The gym was the only thing left standing so we did the pod thing for the rest of the year but it wasn't an intentional design. Within minutes of starting the first class in them, people figured out that they could throw small change and hit another random person in one of the other 'classrooms'. We spent the rest of the year paranoid about getting beaned by a nickle or penny at any moment. The administration finally just gave up after it warmed up in the spring and just let us play outside most of the time.
Old 09-14-2012, 03:44 PM
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 15,121
Yes- elementary (k-5) and middle school (6-8)were like this, although with minor variations.

Both school buildings must have been designed by the same architect and built by the same contractors- they had the same bricks, same basic design, same carpet, same tile, same fixtures, and so on and so forth.

The elementary school was arranged with each grade level (ideally) arranged as 4 classrooms in a large square room with blackboards in the outer sides, doors in the top and bottom center, and windows in the left and right centers. Classrooms were partitioned off by rolling cabinets, bookcases and coat racks. The classes were organized by grade level however.

Middle school had each set of 4 classrooms aligned in a row, with pull-out dividers that could separate the classrooms. The beginning and end classrooms had their own doorways, but the middle two shared a large doorway.

This sort of made sense for middle school; the teachers and students were also organized into pods as well- every 100 or so students in each grade was organized into a pod, where all had the same English, Social Studies, Science and Math teacher, and were slotted into one of 4 skill levels basically. Gifted students (and special ed, I assume) were members of a pod, but attended classes outside their pod for the gifted classes, and only were part of the pod for administrative and their non-gifted classes like social studies, and in my case, math. Other students were in the gifted math classes, but not English, for example.

High school on the other hand, was straight up classrooms with walls between them. A few had dividers, but they were always pulled shut, and there was no administrative concept of a pod.
Old 09-14-2012, 05:32 PM
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Bohemia. A seacoast.
Posts: 6,217
My elementary school had them, although there were partitions up by the time I went there. I don't really remember anything about the noise level. It must not have registered. (I do remember there was an open-plan library on the lower floor and you could fly paper airplanes down from above. Fun times )
Old 09-14-2012, 05:44 PM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Central Ohio
Posts: 5,167
My first elementary school had a gymnasium-sized area set up that way, but by the time I went there it wasn't really being used. I think there were two learning disability teachers in opposite corners of the room, with partitions just scattered randomly throughout the middle.
Old 09-14-2012, 05:46 PM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Southern Pennsylvania
Posts: 21,599
I had Pods for 5th and 6th grade, early 70s. I'm told that they have long gone back to traditional class rooms.
Old 09-14-2012, 05:58 PM
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Location: Vermont
Posts: 9,848
My daughter's high school was built during the "open classroom" boom in the '70s. The fad lasted, what, three years? And the school has suffered for thirty-five years. Cobbled-together partitions, bookcases, curtains, none of which are satisfactory.

There s a special circle in Hell for purveyors of dubious educational theories.
Old 09-14-2012, 06:29 PM
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Location: Dogpatch/Middle TN.
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High school, in the 70s.

Noisy, crumby, cheesy.
The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.
~~~~Hunter S. Thompson
Old 09-15-2012, 12:18 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Taiwan
Posts: 9,059
My high school had pod classroom before I started there in the mid 70s, but because of the noise they installed walls again so I never had pods.
Old 09-15-2012, 12:40 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: the Keystone State
Posts: 13,586
Originally Posted by Hypno-Toad View Post
...My elementary school had classrooms in pairs that were divided by those segmented walls that ran on tracks in the ceiling so that each pair could be turned into a larger single room.
My elementary school had the same setup, but only on the first floor.

Originally Posted by chela View Post
Yup, late seventies middle school. Open concept, no walls. No windows either, but one. The Principal had a big picture window in the second story office that looked over the entire school...
What the hell was the point of that setup? It sounds like somebody converted a warehouse into a school on the cheap?
No Gods, No Masters
Old 09-15-2012, 12:16 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: In the time stream
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Yep. Third to fifth grades, the school and two pods (Primary and Secondary, I think it was), connected by corridors to another corridor that had offices and the auditorium/music room/lunch room. The school library was in the center of one pod, the other pod had one of those "pit" seating areas--concentric rings of carpeted stairs. 4 "classrooms" per pod segment, but I don't remember how many segments per pod.

ETA: It was a new school when I went there, in the early 70s.

Last edited by Morgyn; 09-15-2012 at 12:16 PM.

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