Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Flexible Seating in the Intermediate Grades

Flexible seating has been a huge component of my classroom for many years. My first grade students had great success with the seating and they thrived within our flexible seating classroom. When I moved to Southern California, I found out that I would be teaching a fourth and fifth grade combination class. I had a lot to consider when it came to fourth/fifth grade students and flexible seating...

Would they need their own supplies instead of shared supplies?
Would they need a space to call their own?
Would fourth/fifth graders require as much movement as first graders?
What about all the yoga balls and wobble stools I had for first graders? Would these items work?
What classroom furniture would I have to work with?
What would flexible seating look like with a class of 34 intermediate students vs. 24 first graders?

Checking out the classroom was the first stage in the planning process. When I saw my classroom I realized that I would need to change my vision for my classroom layout. I LOVE teaching with tables in my classroom. Being a new teacher at the school I had to make the classroom furniture in the room work with my classroom set-up. My classroom was a storage space before I moved in so there was a mishmash of desks and chairs to work with. So... for now the two-seater desks would have to work. 

I decided to arrange my students into groups to start the year. I would assess their needs and go from there. I brought in my stability cushions, lap desks, and wobble stools (even though they were first grade-sized). I began the year providing each child with a "home base" seat. This was their desk to hold their items since we didn't have tables. I brought in a standing desk, bean bag chairs, pillows (emoji pillows came from Amazon), and lowered a table. Ikea is local for me so I was fortunate enough to obtain some flexible seating options at a great price. We started on day one with  flexible seating expectations that I used with my first graders and the students took our flexible seating responsibilities very seriously. 

 Throughout the day we would integrate flexible seating for various projects and assignments, then meet at their  "home base" seat or the carpet area for direct instruction. I quickly learned, like my first grade students, fourth graders need to move while they are learning! Scholastic bonus points came in very handy to purchase some wobble stools that were better suited for my fourth graders. I decided to forgo the yoga balls due to the lack of space in my new room, but wanted to get additional wobble stools for my classroom. I purchased some wobble stools through Amazon and I set up a Donor's Choose project for additional wobble stools that would fit my students.  While I await the possibility of funding for the stools, we are using the first grade stools and my students love them and don't mind that they are not as tall. If you would like to donate to the funding of our wobble stools, click here!

I am very pleased with the modified version of the flexible seating in my classroom that we have currently set up and I have a vision to make the classroom even more flexible! I have my eye on white board tables that flip up and roll. I would love these tables because it would allow for collaboration and the students could use the white board surface for writing and note taking. The tables could then be flipped up to present to the class. The rolling option could enable our class to become a wide open space for projects. I also found hexagonal dry-erase top tables that I love. These looked great for collaboration. I am currently in search of grants to help fund these items and I am hopeful that I can make the vision work!

I am excited to see where flexible seating in our fourth and fifth grade takes us. I will be sure to update the blog about all on the challenges and successes throughout the year. I would love to hear how flexible seating has gone for you!