Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Why I Won't Be Doing Flexible Seating Next Year...

Before you judge, I'll start by saying more power to you if you love flexible seating!  I'm not trying to put down how amazing it can be for learners - I'm just sharing why I, as a teacher, didn't like MY flexible seating.  :-)

I was lucky enough to get a DonorsChoose project completed for my flexible seating.  Whenever I do a project, I pick things as if I were paying for them - cheap and never enough.  I try to make the project lower in cost, hoping it will be filled.  I never really go overboard or include all of the things needed for the project to run smoothly (example - 10 of these awesome coding mice....but without the 30 necessary batteries...).  It's completely my fault - being cheap and not thinking things out completely.  Well, I did it again with this flexible seating project.

My classroom is already pretty tight and I chose seats that required space (yoga mats)  I didn't pick enough flexible seat options for all of my kids to have a choice (what was I thinking???).  Then, I never really thought about where my students were supposed to store their supplies in my already crammed room.   I put switching to flexible seating off as long as I can because of those things.  But, after months (and when the thank you package was due...haha) I was tired of looking at all of the cool things tucked away in my closet.

One day after dismissal, I just stacked 14 desks in the hallway and carried a long table into my classroom.  I was on a mission!  Oh, and by that time, I had purchased some other options so everyone was able to have a flexible seat.

Here are the different types of flexible seating options I have in my room:

Then I bought: 

I also purchased black seat cushions and crates from Target.  I tied the cushion onto the bottom of the crate, flipped it over, and that's a seat!  I also bought 2 black bath mats from Target .

My opinions on the seating: 
The pink stool is okay.

The table and chairs are WAY too small for first graders.

The yoga mats are not good for a crammed classroom (imagine kids jumping OVER yoga mats landing ON them, and going flying because they are so slippery....no matter how many times that I say !WALK AROUND THE MATS!")

The stools are okay - but cheap, one broke after about a week.

The bouncy bands are great because the kids are in chairs and at a desk when they use them.

The lap desks are a DEFINITE favorite, but I don't have something comfortable for them to sit on while they use them.  I used a foam ABC puzzle mat as a carpet.  It is so frustrating because the pieces come apart almost instantly and end up completely apart by the end of the day.  The lap desks are great though!

The cushions and black mats are not big enough alone, so they are put together as an option.  Those are also a favorite.

The crate seats are okay because they are sitting down at a table.  My students like them, but they would choose the other things before they picked the crates.

The yoga balls are a favorite - but the students get a little crazy when they are in :the zone" and bouncing.  One of my little lovelies accidentally poked it with his pencil on the first day we were using them....so we went from 3 balls to 2 realllly quickly.

Most of the options I have are fun and great for the students.  My students are okay with sprawling out on the floor, sitting on a crate, or even bouncing away on a yoga ball.  BUT...I can't take it!  I feel like I'm crammed and constantly trying not to trip, slip, or slide on things and kids on the floor. Don't get me wrong - it has helped improve focus.  My students wiggle, lay, squat, crouch, bounce, and WORK.  They got a little chatty when they felt the "freedom" of flexible seating.  But, they LOVED being able to move and pick a new seat.  I did not.  I didn't like the clutter and chaos (OCD...).  I got scared for myself and the kids while trying to maneuver around yoga mats, cushions, lap desks, and bath mats.  

So...if you're going to take the flexible seating plunge in the future, think it out!  Plan out where supplies will be kept.  Make sure your room is large enough to handle everything your're getting.  Maybe don't go crazy like me and get a TON of different options - keep it flexible, but simple.

There's always two sides and unfortunately, I'm not on the "I love flexible seating" side!

If you've tried flexible seating or are wanting to try it, I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sickness and Valentines

For real.  I always get some type of stomach bug or cold around February or March.  It happened again this year.... started out feeling like allergies, turned into a full blown cold, and then BAM...stomach bug.  It was not fun.  But you know what was so fun??

Valentine's Day!

Look at these sweeties sending a love message to their moms and dads!  :-)

We had a blast being all sweet and eating tons of sugar.  :-)  But, having a class party on a Tuesday is tough stuff!

While I was on the couch being all icky sick, I spent some time adding to my huge fluency card growing bundle!  You should check it out!  There are 19 different products in one!  It has word and sentence cards for long vowels, short vowels, digraphs, inflectional endings, vowel teams/patterns....it's a huge deal!  Click on the picture to check out this product!

Enjoy your week!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Grateful :-)

I always knew I wanted to be a teacher.  I used to play "school" in my basement when I was little - my tiny chalkboard hung up on the wall, making worksheets for my mom and sister to complete, and feeling that crazy JOY when I got new pens or markers to grade with.  :-)

I'm so grateful that I followed my childhood dream and was able to make it my adulthood passion!

I'm also SO grateful for DonorsChoose.org.  FOR REAL.  Since my first project in 2010, I've had over 20 projects funded.  I'd say that my students are extremely lucky because they are using and benefiting from the materials I received 7 years ago.

We had 4 more projects funded this year!
My class received a bunch of materials that will help make my Math Rotations run more smoothly. Side note - this is my first year doing Math Rotations and I LOVE THEM.  I've always done small group rotations for Reading...but, doing it in Math has helped my students tremendously!

We also got a lot of seating options because I will be switching to flexible seating very soon!  It seems overwhelming for me right now.  How can I have all of my students sitting at chairs and desks and then the next day come in to a room without those chairs and desks we're all used to?! I know my students will do amazing with the switch.  I'm more concerned about LITERALLY how I'm going to move out all of those desks.  ;-)

We also got a project funded that had tons of building/engineering blocks and activities.  My students use these things in the morning as part of their STEAM bin activities.  They also use some of them during inside recess.  They are OBSESSED with these things!

Lastly, we received these super fun coding mice and activity sets.  I need to get to the store for some batteries so these little guys can start moving around.  Here it is:Code & Go Robot Mouse

Anyway, I just thought I'd share some happiness and some of the things I'm grateful for!