Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Flexible Seating Part 1

Flexible seating has become the latest trend in classrooms across the blogging community.  It's a trend that I think is a positive move in education.  Last spring I started to think about implementing it in my classroom.  I wanted to investigate how others were implementing this idea and I began to look into the various seating possibilities out there.

 I found this post on the A Trendy Teacher site called "Alternative Classroom Seating".  

Schoolhouse Treasures & flexible seating - What is it and what is the research behind it?

This post is full of answers to questions that teachers may have about using alternative seating.  I highly recommend it as a go to post for all things related to flexible seating.
She also has a Part 2 post with more answers to questions about alternative seating.

That post led me to Top Dog Teaching's post: "Why the 21st Century Classroom May Remind You of Starbucks"

Schoolhouse Treasures & flexible seating - What is it and what is the research behind it?

For more pictures showing how she uses alternative seating in her classroom, click {HERE}

I'm a big fan of Greg from the Kindergarten Smorgasbord (who isn't?) and he uses flexible seating in his class.  He got rid of all desks and chairs!

Schoolhouse Treasures & flexible seating - What is it and what is the research behind it?

He often mentions flexible seating but this is one post that he comments on it as he reveals his room set-up.

Greg recently had a FB video about the topic of flexible/alternative seating.  I like how he tries to keep it real by saying that it's "all about giving kids choice".  It's not about fancy seating.  

Erin Klein's name comes up in any search for alternative seating!  She is one of the first to begin talking blogging about it from what I've found.  Here's a post from 2014 that will make you drool over the set up of the classroom!

Here is a Smart Brief article by Erin called "Ditching the Desks in Second Grade". She has written several other articles as well and it's all worth checking out to see what she has to say about changing up the classroom environment.

Another post worth checking into is {HERE}.  Erin refers to the lining up of desks as the "cemetery effect".  This post gives you ways beyond desks to avoid that effect.


That was my next question.... is there research and if so - what does the research say about alternative seating?  So.... I started looking for research.

I found this post by a principal: All In On Flexible Seating and Why You Should Be Too: A Principal's Perspective   He mentions some of the research listed below and more that convinced him to go all in with flexible seating/classrooms.

I found this Edutopia article: Flexible Classrooms: "Providing the Learning Environment That Kids Need"  This article shares that a school in Albemarie County Schools found that their students improved in engagement, academic grades were up and students are more able to communicate and think critically since implementing flexible classrooms.  That sounds impressive!  Who doesn't want that for their students?

There is research about movement increasing brain activity.  This article talks about the relationship and how it can increase student attention spans.  

A British study showed reported improved behavior and energy levels in a classroom that used standing desks for their class of 9 & 10 year old students.

This UK study showed that standing in classrooms has health benefits such as "increased heart rates", more calories being burned and "improved insulin effectiveness".

Stability balls use provide improved posture, increased core muscle, and burns more calories according to this article. This article was written based on adults using the ball versus office chair for work, but wouldn't the benefits be the same for children?

To sum up all the research and anecdotal observations by teachers: when alternative seating is used, behavior improves, posture is improved, engagement is increased, students work more independently, enjoy the flexibility and the freedom it provides. 

It sounds like a win-win situation to me!  I still needed to look into all the seating options there are for flexible seating before I take the plunge.  Stay tuned for Part 2 where I write about the many options I've found.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear from you if you've tried this in your classroom!  What are the pros and cons that you've found in flexible seating?

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