NB: While I'm posting this in July, these are my initial ideas and thoughts, and the rationale behind what I did. This process happened in March and April, 2017.
In the summer of 2016, I decided I wanted to switch things up with respect to the physical set-up of my classroom. I had been reading so much about deskless classrooms, but did not know exactly how I could realize this with my elementary kids. So I used what was available in my school. I knew I had to start somewhere, and I rooted around and took the plunge.
I started with benches: three long benches making three sides of a square, and my SmartBoard and me on the fourth edge. I quickly realized that little kids need definitive boundaries in order to keep them in their own personal space. And when one student fell backwards off of the bench and hit his head, I knew I had to look into something else.
So, I wrote a grant and obtained funding to purchase some "alternative seating" for my room. I solicited thoughts and ideas from my sixth grade students; they gave me feedback about the kinds of chairs I had proposed, and then suggested some other options. So here's what I came up with:
Here are links to the items I ordered:
Yoga mats (~ $18 )
Bungee chairs (~ $55)
Peanut chairs (~$17)
Yoga ball balance chairs (~$80)
Yogibos (because they hadn't arrived yet; I ordered both the midi and the mini)
Balance stools (I hadn't obtained the money to purchase tables at this point, so I didn't feel like these were a good fit for this set-up)
(I have been using bean bags for FVR for several years, so I continued to include those in my seating options. And the giant bear had been a donation from a woman whom I had never met. I had written to the Listserv for the town where I teach; this Listserv is forum for selling/seeking items, as well as announcing local events and community observations.)
The sixth graders whom I polled were really excited about the idea of something new and different. I had no idea what to expect, but knew it was going to take some serious thought and planning to ensure order and peace!
Check out part 2 of this post to see how things played out. (Part 3 will be coming in the fall of 2017.)
Allison Litten teaches French at the Marion Cross School, a public K-6 school in Norwich, Vermont. This year she is teaching kindergarten and grades 1, 2, 4, and 6.