Thursday, January 9, 2014

Alternative Seating: How Things are Going!


My 2nd graders are getting used to using alternative seating, and I am loving it!

We spent the first day back from winter break going over expectations. We discussed which seating options would be best for the various activities we do throughout the day. We talked about choosing a seat that would help them be successful learners. And guess what? They're doing it! I think I've only had to move 1 child in 3 days. I've even seen children move on their own, because a friend was talking to them while they were working.

The only "problem" I ran in to was that the pillows were very popular last week. At one point, there was a big group of kids running to grab pillows at the same time. So they all put them back, and we didn't use pillows for that round of Daily 5. Problem solved! They seem to be over the pillows this week already. :)

They love standing at the bookcases.


Some kids enjoy the low tables, some prefer the high, and some switch off between the two.


I choose 2 students each day to sit on the stability balls, bean bags, and saucer chairs.



I have heard that some teachers who use alternative seating have students choose their spots for the day. I allow my students to choose different spots for the different activities that we do. For example, during math we may be using manipulatives that can be used at a table or on the floor. Then we may switch to using our workbooks, where students may want to sit at a table. We also do a lot of partner and small-group activities. One spot may not "fit" everything that child is doing throughout the day, so they have the freedom to move around, as-needed.

I'm definitely happy with my decision to move to alternative seating thus far. I don't know if my students are necessarily more engaged, but they are definitely more comfortable!

27 comments:

  1. We have very similar thoughts about classroom seating! During any independent work we have the "seat between" rule. Students must leave a chair...or enough space for a chair between them.

    Laurie
    Chickadee Jubilee

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  2. I am starting to look into doing alternative seating in my classroom. I am curious, what do you do about testing? Do they still get to choose where they want to sit for tests?

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    1. The only standardized test we have in 2nd is the MAP test, which is done in the computer lab. For regular tests/assessments, I just have them spread out around the room. I did this when they had assigned seats, too. They sat 4 to a table, and I would send 2 of the kids away to get clipboards and work on the floor. I've never had any problems. :)

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  3. I haven't had any experience with alternative seating and your blog is the first time I have been made aware of it. However, I immediately see how beneficial this could be for my students. I love how detailed you were about how to go about making this work in a classroom. The visuals are obviously also quite nice. I am curious to know how it is going now, since I see you posted this in the beginning of January. Are students still liking it? Have you found that you have to move students often or because you set expectations up front, are they continuing to make good choices? Thanks for all the great ideas!

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    1. They are doing pretty well overall. There are some "repeat offenders" that I am constantly moving. Sometimes I just give these children a spot for the day or week. I definitely don't miss figuring out seating charts!

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    2. About seating charts...do you let them choose where they sit at the beginning of the year and throughout? I work in a private school (very small) and as of right now my class roster shows 12 students so far (8 third graders and 4 fourth graders..split class). Do you think it would be fine to let them choose? A lot of my students have been coming to this school since Kinder and have their "best friends" that I know they will choose to sit by. I'm just curious...as a 2nd year teacher...and teaching a split class for the first time.

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  4. I love the idea of alternative seating. However, I have never tired it to the extent you have. When I taught kindergarten my students had a choice where to sit during Daily 5. I had pillows they could sit/lay on, other kid size chairs, a bench, some stood at bookcases and some sat at their table. Also, during other work time I would have students stand at their table while they were working. I kind of left it up to the student how they worked as long as they were doing what they needed to. Now I teach middle school and my students have a choice as to where they sit/lay during reading time. I've also had some of them ask me if they could kneel or stand while they are working. I think students need to have some choice as to how they complete their work. I know a lot of times when I'm reading or doing homework I'm not sitting at a table. Is alternative seating still working?

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    1. Hi, Jolene!
      It is still working for the most part. Sometimes I miss the "neatness" of assigned seats at tables, but I like giving them the freedom of choice.

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  5. I love this idea! I read through the posts you have on alternative seating and I think it is just what my kiddos need! And with winter break coming up, I could introduce it when we came back. I'm just wondering if you have any suggestions for desk seating verses tables... we don't have a lot of tables in our classroom because we have desks for each student. Do you think it would still work if I could do something with their desks?

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  6. What type of utility ball did you purchase?

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  7. What type of utility ball did you purchase?

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  8. I am soooooo interested in figuring out how to use alternative seating. Did anyone in your building do it in Kindergarten? And did they get to sit in those spots during whole group instruction as well? I really would like to implement this, just not sure where to get started!

    Thanks!
    Brittany
    Shakinitupwithmrsshannon.blogsplot.com

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  9. I am soooooo interested in figuring out how to use alternative seating. Did anyone in your building do it in Kindergarten? And did they get to sit in those spots during whole group instruction as well? I really would like to implement this, just not sure where to get started!

    Thanks!
    Brittany
    Shakinitupwithmrsshannon.blogsplot.com

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  10. I love your alternate seating. This is something I would very much like to do more of. At the moment I have one standing desk and one fitness ball to use as a chair. Thanks for sharing.
    @ Wiley Teaching

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  11. I've used alternative seating this year in my classroom. I teach in a private downtown school so there is no extra funding for things, but what I did do with student desks was to raise them up so those students who wish to stand may do so. I also created my own fidget bar to go around the bottom of the desks-it is simply a pvc pip cut to about 12 inches and two "smartstraps" that go through it and attach to the legs (total cost about $5!). My other options are pillows, yoga balls and sitting on the floor with clipboards. I love it!

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    1. Do u have a visual of this fidget bar...got a few kids I'd like to make this for.

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    2. I also am working for a private school (PreK-8) with little funding. We have one classroom per grade level with 6 grades being split..3rd/4th, 5th/6th, and 7th/8th. Our rooms are not spacious at all. I am teaching the 3rd/4th grade class this year (2nd year teacher...never have taught a split before!) and I will be having a lot of hyper kids in my class. I taught 2nd last year, so I moved up with my students and am taking on the 4th grade as well. My previous students were very hyper and I need these types of accommodations in my room. I wish I had more space and money! I'm searching for the cheapest ways to do things right now. School starts in a month!

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  12. Love this! Any suggestions for doing this with a classroom of desks instead of tables?

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  13. This last year I used alternative seating. My students and I LOVED it and I plan on using it again next year. I raised some of my desks so students could stand. I also removed the bottom part of the desk legs and just bought some rubber cups (from a hardware store) so the students sit on the floor. I have one fairly small table (sits 4) and I took the bottom part of the legs off and just put on the rubber caps. I found 2 end tables at the Salvation Army, repainted them. At each table 2 students sit on a crates with a cushions I made for that have ties to hold them on. I teach second grade and this has worked very well. I have a lot of clip boards, pillows, yoga balls and bean bag chairs. I had 24 students and I only had 6 student desks. There were 3 students that used the same desk all year others used them as they wanted to. It is amazing how much more room I have now. I will be retiring next year and I sure wish I had tried this earlier. It was a little scary letting the extra desks go but I am so glad I did. Also, I did not have a teacher desk. I would recommend this to anyone who is thinking about going to alternative seating. I sure wish I could have stood up or sat on the floor when I was a student years ago.

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  14. Much has been made of having a well-designed classroom these days, and with good reason. A number of studies have shown that a poorly laid out classroom can cause problems for both the students and the teacher. Students find themselves more easily distracted and less engaged, and teachers have a hard time finding needed materials and keeping the mountains of paperwork they need manageable and under control. Most of us do not have control over which classroom we are assigned. However, we can all find ways to make the best use of the space we have. As discussed in my last few blogs, teacher centered learning is becoming less fashionable while student cooperative learning is thriving. Additionally, teachers need to take into account various student learning styles and comfort levels to maximize classroom success. Here are some helpful hints towards these goals. Flexible seating arrangements using flexible furniture come in handy. Sitting students in a U for class discussions has been found to be more effective than in rows. This also leads to better all around eye contact and a feeling of equality between students. DigitalBuyer is an office products retailer specializing in fireproof file cabinets & safes, office furniture, industrial materials handling, office equipment, and commercial products. They proudly serve government, education, corporate, and end-users with everyday low prices and personalized service. They provide School Chairs for every grade-level, including elementary, middle, and high school student chairs. Also featuring combination chair desks, and science lab stools. https://www.linkedin.com/in/digitalbuyer

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  15. I am giving flexible seating a go this year. I have desks raised as high as they'll go and as low. I have 5 tables from Ikea at $5 each and 5 seats made from Wal-Mart large bouncy balls in a crate also $5 per seat. (I could just imagine yoga balls flying through the air). Large and small throw pillows and clipboards for floor seating. 18 students LOVE it. Teacher too!

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  16. I am giving flexible seating a go this year. I have desks raised as high as they'll go and as low. I have 5 tables from Ikea at $5 each and 5 seats made from Wal-Mart large bouncy balls in a crate also $5 per seat. (I could just imagine yoga balls flying through the air). Large and small throw pillows and clipboards for floor seating. 18 students LOVE it. Teacher too!

    ReplyDelete
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