Tag Archives: elementary education

The Power of Flexible Seating

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Some may have some doubts or concerns when they see a set of ‘bouncy balls’ in a classroom, which is quite understandable.  However, I saw it as a chance to enhance not only the furniture and overall look of the space, but also to further student engagement in all aspects of study during my lessons.

This week, provided my first chance to test this all out.  Along with the colorful, bouncy balls, I also provided area mats, floor pillows, and a small ‘cafe’ table.  Upon entering the library media center, the students’ enthusiasm and excitement were visible instantly.  There was a lot of celebration and questions, and they were all very eager to try out all these new things.  But, there was a catch…

They had to earn it.

I took the opportunity of it being the first days of school to test the waters with all of my classes.  I had them sit on their ‘old,’ regular tables and chairs for the majority of the class.  I explained to them that if their behavior was great during the first half of class, I would allow some free reading time in a seat of their choice.  Most of my classes took the challenge head-on.  They wanted to get to move around and try out new things.  Their maturity and dedication was rewarded, and they were able to choose their seats at the end of class.

As seen in the photo above, the end result was amazing.  It took them a couple minutes to get settled and find balance, but after a quick ‘tutorial’ on how to sit on them without slipping or falling, the students were loving it!  They found the happy medium of light bouncing or rolling while reading their books.  It made my heart smile watching the risk pay off.  Instead of trying to talk, making noise, and interrupting their peers, my students focused their energy into their new seats.

Flexible seating will work.  It just takes some patience.

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Teaching Our Children the Foundations of Research

img_1484For the four grade levels I teach, my current unit for all students is a research project.  I selected four different topics and grouped my students into pairs or threes; they are to conduct proper research and create a Google Slides presentation.  The topics are as follows:

  • Grade 3–origin of a holiday
  • Grade 4–significant person or group in Black History
  • Grade 5–exploration of  a specific science topic
  • Grade 6–background and historical information about a state

In a previous lesson based around plagiarism and bibliographies, I reviewed with all of my students what exactly constitutes plagiarism and how to conduct responsible research.  They also learned how to give credit to their sources through a bibliography.  We are now bringing these learned ideas into practice through this project.  I am allowing my students to explore (with certain guidelines) and create a slideshow presentation reviewing their findings.

For the third and fourth grades, they are asked to use Kidtopia and Infotopia–simply to ensure their search results are safe and appropriate.  For the fifth and sixth grade, they are asked to utilize PebbleGo Next, which our district had purchased in the summer.  This basic database designed for children has ‘science’ and ‘states’ sections, so it works wonderfully with their respective projects.

Of course they are learning about their topics through their research and work, but the skills I want them to truly perfect are responsible research and proper citation.  These are educational building blocks that will stay with them through high school and higher education.  And, within the first day of creating their Google Slideshows, most of my students already have a bibliography slide on which they are posting their resources.  I am happy to see them become responsible students and researchers.

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