- Associated Press - Sunday, March 27, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A youth psychiatric residential treatment facility in Bismarck has a classroom designed to help students choose their preferred method of learning.

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, a 16-bed facility for youth with severe mental health issues, incorporated the “balanced learning” classroom this school year, the Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/25nZZri ) reported. It’s an effort to help students learn better and accommodate their needs.

The facility has a day school program for boys and girls age 12 to 17. The school is also open to those living in the surrounding community and currently has 20 students.

Maryann Delzer’s classroom is filled with blocks to sit on, wobble stools, rockers and yoga mats. There’s also a basket with textured toys and stress balls.

Delzer said the tools and furniture in the balanced learning classroom can help students relax and focus, as well as reduce negative behaviors.

“The kids are able to focus longer more, and they’re just more successful in the classroom because they can stay in the class,” she said.

Principal Jim Upgren said the balanced learning classroom idea came from the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch in Minot. Minot campus principal Tina DeGree said the school has used balanced learning tools for about three years, starting in elementary classrooms and later moving into high school rooms.

DeGree said giving students the ability to move around has helped, and students are staying in classrooms longer and focusing better.

“If we can increase students’ time in the classroom by 5 or even 10 percent, that’s a lot of learning,” DeGree said.

Upgren and Delzer said they’ve had high success with the classroom and hope to expand it to more rooms.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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