Do you find yourself constantly rearranging your classroom? Are you searching for collaborative spaces on Pinterest? Do you just love Flex Seating? Do you and your spouse spend your time off building new seats for your classroom?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions then you are just like ME and we should be friends!
After End of Grade tests were finished last year, 2015-2016 school year, I rearranged the desks because I wanted to create a classroom environment that allowed student choice in where they sat. So, I pushed a bunch of desks into a corner, it was like 5 desks but it seemed like a lot, and finally made use of the computer tables by bringing them to the middle of the classroom. We rearranged the classroom to have 3 tables and 2 student desk tables which allowed 4 to 5 students at a table. Flex seating was finally up and running in my classroom and we didn’t even creat any rules for it. Students sat where ever they wanted and it worked perfectly. It only took me until the last two weeks of the school year to get it started!
I decided to take the month of June, my time off because I work at a year round school, to create new seats for the next school year. I love being crafty and making things on my own. Using what I found on Pinterest I developed my plan, mapped out what it was going to look like and prioritized.
I spray painted five gallon buckets, cut wood, cut foam, used crates I already had, spent time at Lowes asking many questions and may have used a Reciprocating Saw as a Jigsaw. I kept reassuring everyone I talked with at Lowes that I had a Jigsaw and I knew how to use it. When I showed my husband the piece of wood I cut and the tool I used he was very surprised I was not missing a limb or two! I was extremely lucky!
Reciprocating Saw verses Jigsaw
This is a Reciprocating Saw that is used in demolition and what a powerful tool it is..never again!
This is a Jigsaw and what was needed to make my seats. Wow, such an easy tool to use. However, I gladly handed the wood cutting to my husband and just assisted. This is when my solo project became a team effort. I even had help from our littlest resident too!
Spray painting the buckets was super easy and quick. This was a simple day project!
Now to use them in the classroom! The first day of school caused all types of anxious feelings about flex seating but creating a list of rules was most beneficial. As a class we brainstormed what flex seating looked like to us, what it should look like in our classroom and developed our list of rules. We started with 7 rules but downsized to 5. This chart hangs up as a reminder of the rules we agreed upon and we refer back to this often.
After several weeks of picking a new seat on a daily basis we realized it was not working for the class. During a class meeting the students decided that every Monday they would pick a new seat for the week. Picking a seat at the start of the week has been a huge success. Students know where they are most successful and choose accordingly. I have been very pleased with their seat choices.
As you can see the crate seats are used at the collaboration station! This area allows for at least four students to work together during group work. A laptop is always at this station and there is a role of parchment paper on the wall. This area is also known as Station 4 for math centers which is called “Analyze This”. This center allows a group of students to analyze how a math word problem was solved. I purposely set this center up here to allow good, rich math conversation about word problems. Students read a word problem discuss how it was solved, what mistake was made and what they need to do to solve the problem correctly.
As you can see the bucket seats are around the room at desks. This allows the opportunity for some fun seating while siting at a standard desk. You will also see some stools at the higher table, a simple purchase I made at Walmart over the summer. In addition, to the taller stools I also have colored stools that the school supplied us. There are a few camping chairs from Five Below that the students use during independent reading time.
Students are able to sit, stand, lay on the ground to do work…whatever works with them works with me…as long as they are doing work! However, there are times when they need to be at the front carpet, at their seats and as a class we decided upon those times at the start of the year. I really worked hard to implement student voice and choice in our classroom!.
I used to dread creating a seating chart but with flex seating I no longer have to worry about that! Allowing students the choice to sit where they want, where they are most successful has been the best thing ever. Do I need to make changes every now and then….yes!! Every now and then students will need to be separated so they are most successful. This is when I refer to rule number 5!
I love this safe, respectful environment that the students and myself have created this year. So much learning takes place on a daily basis in this room and around our school. I am super excited to see what the new year holds for my students and school.