What would be the ultimate classroom?

WESTLAKE, OH (WOIO) - As parents, it's a question you probably ask often; how will my child learn best?

We may look up studies to find the answer, or ask other parents and teachers, but what if we asked the kids themselves?

Leah Burke has been a teacher for eight years. Of all the questions she's asked in that time, this one question has inspired more excitement than ever before in her 4th-grade classroom in Westlake.

"What do you think the ultimate classroom might look like? It blew into this giant mind map of all these things they could possibly want in a classroom," says Bassett Elementary teacher Leah Burke.

More flexible work space. Student Dana Askar explains, "You get to meet more people when you move around."

More comfortable chairs. "It's not good for you to sit in these regular chairs all day," says Dana, adding, "It's going to hurt your back."

Students also wanted spaces to relax and refocus. And absolutely no bullying.

"Bullying is really bad and can hurt people's feelings," says Bella Puchmeyer.

All of these ideas aren't just written on paper, they're becoming reality. The Bassett Elementary students just wrote a grant
and won seven new chairs, $175 each, from an Ohio office supply company.

"They're really good for learners with ADHD or kinesthetic learners because it helps them move around more without having to stand up," explains Bella.

Bella is now giving lessons on bullying to kindergarteners, 2nd and 4th-graders on how best to handle these tough situations.

"Mindfulness is a way when you think of something happy, that calms you down, so that could help with bullying so you can calm down and tell them stop."

The students have also set up a Fidget Corner. It's a place where they can come grab something that helps them relax, like a spinner. They can use it to regain focus, then head back to class.

"They make the learning happen and it's no longer about me, it's about what they are accomplishing," says Ms. Burke.

And while the students are using this project to hone their researching and public speaking skills, Ms. Burke thinks the lesson will expand far beyond her 4th-grade classroom.

"Ultimately, as an adult, it's you who has to take control of your learning, so starting that at a young age, I can't wait to see and hear what some of them accomplish one day."

Monday night, one of the students in Ms. Burke's class will present her ideas about the best furniture for learning to the full Westlake School Board.

And as for the simple idea of changing furniture and rearranging a classroom, there are books out there, like 'The Third Teacher', that show a link between environment and how kids learn.

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