Flexible Seating (or SMART Seating) Arrives in Middle School Classrooms

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Flexible Seating (or SMART Seating) Arrives in Middle School Classrooms at St. Bernard Catholic School

Flexible seating is something that Ms. Dudzik, middle school language arts teacher, really wanted to make happen in her classroom. As a thank you to all of our generous donors and parents, Ms. Dudzik has put together this handout to explain the different seating options that are now available to students in her classroom.

Flexible seating or SMART Seating is a student centered approach to learning. Our teachers are taking the time to teach students about how their bodies learn best, and what their bodies need in order to be productive students. Last Spring our campus passed around an article published from Edutopia. This article inspired our teachers and ignited a powerful discussion about what types of environments students need in order to be successful students.

This discussion began with several primary teachers in Kindergarten, First and Second grades taking this challenge to heart and redefining their learning spaces both over the summer and into the Fall. In October our primary teachers shared their findings and their implementation process with the rest of the faculty. This discussion led to inspiration in the intermediate and middle school classrooms. The third grade classroom has gone to a completely flexible seating model with middle school math and language arts right behind them.

In general we are finding these new seating options to be a calming factor among all students and it is also providing physical options for students who are challenged with ADHD or who just need to move around more often. Our students say that they like the options, they like the atmospheres that have been created with them in mind, and they feel that they have comfortable options that fit their physical needs while learning.

The photos below depict the middle school language arts classroom. This room was remodeled with seven different seating options and was largely funded with donations from school families. We are excited about what the classroom of the 21st century looks like and we are proud to be offering these models in our building.

An overview of Middle School Language Arts Classroom as written by Ms. Brittney Dudzik….

Empty Classroom

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What the classroom looks like now:

 

Classroom Image 1

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Classroom Image 2

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Classroom Image 3

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Classroom Image #4

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Classroom Image #5

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There are several different areas to work in. I have seating that accommodates 33 students and my largest class has 23. This means that the students have options…which I love! It also allows students to spread out.

Option #1: This is a nice cozy hangout for small group work.

option-1

 

Option #2: I have two of these areas in my classroom. I like this option because it allows the students to move back and forth, but they cannot spin in circles on the chairs.

Over winter break, I will be painting the tops of these tables to turn them into dry erase boards. This will be awesome for in-class examples and group work since they can write ideas and answers directly at their spots.

I am hoping to possibly raise one of these tables in some fashion, so I can have a standing table. That is one thing that I still need to work on making as an accommodation for many students who enjoy standing rather than sitting. It’s a work in progress though…

 

Option #3: This area accommodates six students. I have six cushions on back order (hopefully coming December 27th), but for now students just have to sit cross-legged on the floor. This table will also be painted with dry erase paint.

 

Option #4: BEAN BAGS! Enough said 🙂 Students can use the two lap desks I have, if they are not being used by students sitting in option #6, or they have the two blue tables to write on.

Option #5: This is a favorite so far. Students like to be able to bounce a little or roll back and forth (within reason) here. This table will also be painted with dry erase paint. They are stored on buckets when not in use so the stability balls don’t roll all over the classroom.

 

Option #6: Students can sit in these two saucer chairs with the two lap desks I have. It allows for a little privacy since they aren’t sitting with a group.

 

Option #7: This option is just for students who still would like to sit at a desk. I have a pod of four desks with regular chairs and then I also have these two desks with wheely chairs. Some students just wanted to keep things the “normal” way.

If you noticed in the pictures, I now have CARPET! I am super excited about this because students can now sit or lay on the floor while working without getting super dirty. It is also more comfortable for them.

Lighting was also something I wanted to change. I was able to purchase lamps with some monetary donations. This will allow me to reduce the amount of overhead lighting I have to use. It makes it feel more homey.

Finally, I had to figure out a way that students could store all of their belongings since I was removing so many desks. Through monetary donations, I was able to purchase eight 3-drawer carts. Each student will eventually have their own drawer.

 

You might have noticed all of the desks are currently in the back of the classroom. These should be stored somewhere else within the next month or so. I got so excited about this flexible seating and you all were so generous, that we didn’t have time to make room to store them! Sometimes I get a little ambitious! The kids don’t seem to mind though since they are out of the way.

Again, thank you so much for all of your support with this project. I am so pleased with how it turned out. The kids loved using each of these things today. Throughout the next six days, students will continue to rotate in small groups to be able to try each option once. Then the students will get to make wise choices on where to work in class. We will talk about SMART seats and choosing an environment that best fits their needs.