Sunday, November 20, 2016

Flexible Seating and Winning the PENCIL WAR!

This is my first year with flexible seating.  I saw all the amazing pictures on some teacher blogs and wanted the same experience for my kiddos.  I truly wasn't sure where to even start.  I decided that simple was the first rule.

We set up a meeting area for most of our direct instruction.  I just put two 8x10 carpets together and it was plenty of space for the kids to sit.

No desks? My first question.... what to do with their pencil boxes?  Everyone keeps their crayons and a pencil in a plastic box with their name on it.  We store them on top of a shelf and the kids get them whenever they need them.  We store all of the scissors, glue, paper, and other supplies into labeled bins and the kids just go get whatever they need and return it when they are finished.

Where will they all sit to do independent work?  Over the summer I found a few things here and there to get us started.  Like all teachers I "borrowed" a few things from my own house!  We had some mats, a bunch of plastic chairs, and a few other items.  I bought three carpets to put in different areas and was able to score two long tables at the school.  We started small and everyone was able to try out all the different places they could pick from.  My original thought was I have 20 kids so I need 20 spaces... I was wrong!

They argued because someone always was last and didn't get the type of seat they liked.  I had to fix this to make the experience better for the kids and save my own sanity.  I began researching how people funded flexible seating and took the JUMP!

I wrote my first Donor's Choose project.  I was extremely lucky and Target paid all but $97 of it.  My sweet classroom parents and my own family funded the rest within 2 hours.  I WAS OVER THE MOON!

We waited and waited for those first packages to arrive.  Once they did our classroom took on a new shape.  We had over 40 different places to sit and everyone was always able to find a spot that made them happy.  It has transformed our classroom and helped us build a truly positive community.


 We love the bean bag chairs and if we are reading a friend can join us!


 We were able to get 2 of these fun chairs with Donor's Choose and they are a FAVORITE!
That SMILE is worth it all!


Safari themed bath mats have proved to be easy to move to anyplace they want to work.
I also scored a bunch of green fuzzy mats at Dollar General for $4.  
These stools made by Big Joe are great for laying on or working on!
  

I was able to get my hands on two of the SCOOP chairs!  The kids love them!  I was worried that second graders might not fit in them, but I was wrong.    


I was also worried about their handwriting!  Would they write super messy?  
NO WAY!
It has never been better!  
We have 6 of these green lap desks from Amazon.  



What about pencils?
Oh the PENCIL WAR!
Every year I try different things to make it through the year without spending fortune on pencils.  I've tried it all and nothing ever seems to work until flexible seating came along.  I put the "Need Sharpened" bin away from the "Ready to Write" bin.  
Two locations and it has worked like a charm.  

I know you are not going to believe this, but I haven't put a new pencil into the bin ALL YEAR!  We are still working on the original 100 pencils I started with!  I've actually thrown some away because they were NUBS!  I can't say the same for the cap erasers.  We have gone through a TON, but that is OK because I still have a ton of pencils from the kids beginning of the year supplies left!

So I was really curious as to why this happened.  Why are the pencils lasting?  It makes no sense.  We are writing the same amount of work as last year....  the difference....

NO DESKS!!!!!!
The kids can't bury 100 pencils in the back of their desk and get a new one!

I wanted our classroom to truly be flexible, so we don't pick specific spots each day/week and we can move to different spots whenever we need to.  When we move to do independent work I either send the girls or boys first.  They find a seat and then the other group goes.

What happens if someone gets up to get something they need?  Our rule is simple if you leave a spot, leave your stuff then it will be there when you get back.  Your spot is SAVED if something is sitting on it.  Leave your paper, pencil box, or book.  It was something that we had to practice and talk about, but now we have no disagreements over spots.

Is it easy at first? No!  I had to figure it out for myself and make adjustments to make it work for me.

Am I glad I did it?  YES, YES, YES!  The kids love it and our day flies by because everyone is engaged all day long.  Give it a try.  Start small and you will be glad you did!

Happy Teaching!