Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Little More Kindness in the World

A Little More Kindness in the World.

Don't we all need it?

Let's all begin at home...

Where we live.

Where we work.

Where we play.

I decided it was time in my own classroom to put a screeching halt to academics for just one day.  You see, at this time of year, my students have become just a little too comfortable with each other.

The occasional name calling.  The occasional leaving one student out of a game.

I have a good group of kids.  I really do.

But, the little things add up.  Slowly and over time, it starts chipping away at those precious hearts.

It was time to step in before it become full-blown.

So, we watched "Enemy Pie" from Storyline Online.  Then we had a discussion about friends.
I even made a quick Google Doc for a Google Classroom assignment.
1)  What does friendship mean to you?
2)  Who are your friends in this classroom?
3)  Who are your friends in other classrooms?
4)  How would you feel if you didn't have any friends?
5)  What would you do if you saw someone without a friend?

WOW!  It was an eye-opener.  I had one student that NO ONE, not one single solitary person listed as their friend.  I knew this child has trouble understanding how to be a friend, but there were a couple of students that I felt sure considered the child as a friend.  NOPE!!  NOT EVEN ONE!

Next, we watched a really good video from Discovery Education about bullies.  Some of my students really don't understand what true bullying is.  It was evident from our discussion before we watched the video.

After the video, the students completed another quick activity I made in Google Classroom.
1)  What is bullying.
2)  Have you ever been bullied?  Explain what happened.
3)  Have you ever been a bully?  Explain.
4)  Has anyone in THIS classroom ever bullied you?  Explain

WOW!!  More eye-openers.  One of my sweetest and quietest little girls admitted to bullying a couple of other girls earlier in the school year.  Guess what?  She was right!  She really was being a bully.  The sad thing is, I NEVER KNEW!

The last thing we finished up with was working in small groups on some scenarios to help solve situations of bullying and not having friends.

This took us ALL morning, y'all!

I immediately sent off an SOS e-mail to our school counselor asking if he could make time for a follow-up lesson that afternoon.  He did, and it tied everything together just beautifully!

I know taking the time to do this really helped, because, the next day was one of the BEST days ever in our class!  I saw students going out of their way to be kind to each other, respect out of the wazoo, and smiles all around.

Sometimes, you've just got to throw all those well thought out academic lessons out of the window and actually make time to reach out for important life lessons.

Our students deserve it.

Our future deserves it.

Let's make a difference!
Click on the picture to find these FREE in my store!

That's just my... Kind of TEACHING!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

How to Manage Flexible Seating

     I knew that when I started Flexible Seating, I needed to set the tone at the beginning of the year to set my class up for success. During the first week of school, I made sure that every student had an opportunity to try out every seat at least once.  As the students sat in a new seat, they would complete the simple evaluation that I made.

I then took all of the info and did simple tally marks next to each type of seating.  It was obvious very quickly that the traditional seating came in at the very bottom of the list.  This information was very valuable to me in many ways.  The most was to make sure that each student was in a seat that they loved for our very first district mandated testing on day 4.

     Before I turned my students lose to start choosing their own seats, they first had to have sat in every seat in the classroom.  I kept a simple checklist and moved my students four times a day.  Each time, I made sure that they were also with a new groups of students.
     On the day that the students were first given the opportunity to make their own seating choice, we had a meeting to begin our day.  We discussed how everything had gone and completed three charts.  I wanted the students to have the ownership of the flexible seating classroom.  The headings of the charts were "What it is"  "What it isn't"  "Rules".

      After several days of rotating, the students were able to come up with great thoughts which led to some meaningful conversations.  I think if I had told them all of this at the beginning, they wouldn't have had the buy-in to the flexible seating.

     Now, my students have completely been turned over to choosing their own seats.  We change seats after each subject which is four times a day.  We rotate through choosing seats in alphabetical order.  Once a student is first to choose his seat, he then becomes last and moves back up.  This means that with twenty-six students, it only takes six days before each student gets to be the first to choose their seats.  

     Our day goes something like this:  

     My students and I meet on the rug as we begin each subject.  This is our meeting place for instruction, discussion, read alouds, reading together, watching a video, etc.  After the students know what work they need to complete, they get to make the decision of what seating arrangement works best for them for the situation.  I haven’t had any student stay in the same seat all day long.  
     I use the signs included in this free packet to post on the board.  This helps remind students of expectations and the seating choice that will help them be successful.
      I have been absolutely amazed at how changing the atmosphere of the classroom to more of a home feeling has completely altered the way my students perform.  It’s been nothing short of AWESOME!

     If you are thinking about changing to flexible seating and have questions, I am happy to correspond with you and help out.   

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Flexible Seating Classroom Reveal

In my last blog post, I talked about how I completely changed my traditional classroom to a Flexible Seating classroom on a BUDGET.  If you are just starting you will want to read it here.

Today, I have my classroom reveal to share with you.  I hope you are as excited as I am!  

My 4th grade classroom is 25' x 27'.   This is the smallest classroom I have ever taught in, yet I think it looks and feels the most spacious!  

I have 26 students and 29 actual seating options plus other options.  (Hard to believe from this picture, right?)  I'll count them for you as we go along.

Here is the view from my door.   I built upon the bright pink, green, blue, purple, orange, and yellow that I already had in my classroom.
These are standard pillows with bright pink pillowcases for low seating.  (Seats #1-4) 
 Looking from the front of the room to the back where you can see my classroom library which extends behind my door. 
 Here is a closer look at the black leather gaming chair next to my classroom library.  (seat #5)
 I found these bright stools just a couple of days before school started and added them to my computer area. 
 These stools are not part of the daily flex options.
 Looking from our meeting rug to the back of the room.  These are the cubbies for my students to keep their supplies.
 My teacher stuff is located behind my small group table.  I got rid of my teacher desk four years ago when I moved to this smaller room.  I have a small desk for my computer.  I have three pink and green stools for flex seating.  These are very sturdy with storage inside.  I found these on an online yard sale during pre-planning!  (SCORE!!)  (seats #6, 7, 8)
 This purple basket was given to me.  It is perfect for our pillows to use for "extra" flex seating.  Students can choose this option along with a blanket or a towel.  I have used these for many years.

 I brought two of my camping chairs from home along with a small table I purchased from a friend.  I have had the lamp for several years in my classroom.  The fuzzy, purple picture frame was one my daughter left when she got married and moved out.  I will take a class picture and add it.  Two clipboards in a basket I already had, finishes off this cozy little area for two.  (seats #9 & #10)

 Looking from the front corner of my rug to the back of the room.  I purchased this plastic treasure chest a few years ago at Walmart.  It contains our blankets and towels for extra flex seating.

 My principal is extremely supportive and as excited about this change as I am.  She purchased these two wiggle stools from Amazon for me.  They work great with this small table I already had in my classroom.  (Seats #11 & #12)

 I was super excited to find this great leather loveseat!  I added two pillows from home and this rug that was rolled up in my closet for another cozy seating area.  
(Seats #13 & #14)
 These two comfy chairs finish out the livingroom corner.  The table was another leftover from my daughter and the lamp was one previously in my room.  (Seats #15 & #16)

The inspirational posters that can be seen all over the room can be found here in my TPT store.  There are 100 in the pack.  I also hang a different one outside my door each morning.  Other students stop to read them and thank me for posting.
The front corner of my meeting rug.  I have had this rocker for about ten years.  I also already had the lamp, bookshelf, and floor pillows.  The scoop rockers can be seen next to the bookshelf.  Desk trays can be used by the students who want to sit on one of the floor pillows as extra flex.  I purchased the beanbag chair from Amazon.  (seat #17)

 A closer view of items that students can grab and go.  Our science, social studies, and language arts textbooks are also on the shelf to pull out as needed.
 These scoop chairs are a big favorite and super cheap at Walmart! (Seats #18 & #19)
 Desk trays from Hobby Lobby are used with
 these large floor cushions my mom sewed several years ago for extra flex seating.
 The view from the back corner of my room.  Having the rug in the middle of the room, really helps give the illusion that my room is super spacious, when it really isn't.
 My principal purchased two stability balls which will go here.  Unfortunately, they are on back order for about another month.  These crates and chair cushions were at my house and became emergency plan B.  I just turned the crates upside down, and tied the cushions on them.  They are working out so well, that I will move them to the small group table with the green and pink cubes when no longer needed here. That will also increase to 31 seating options! (Seats #20 & #21)
 Another great castoff of my daughter was this lamp which gives much needed light in this back corner.  During the school day, my overhead fluorescent lights are usually off and we only use lamps and natural lights from the window.  The book shelf is on wheels so is easily moved when I need in the closet.  This bungee chair was a great yardsale find and is a favorite of my students!  (Seat #22)

This gaming chair found a nook under the backpacks.  During the day, it can easily be scooted out just a bit from the wall.  Don't be afraid to use every available space in your classroom! Students are loving this cozy nook to work independently.  (Seat #23)
Here is thhe ONLY traditional table and chairs in my classroom.  I really felt that I needed to keep one of my six tables, but the kiddos complain if it is their turn to sit here, and really, who can blame them with all of these other great options? (Seats #24-27)

Another view of my classroom looking from the computer table.
 The last two flex seating options have also been favorites.  I had a friend who was taking these two stools to the recycle store and gave them to me for FREE!  (whoo-hoo!!)  I placed these at each end of the cubbies where the taller height worked perfectly.  They also swivel allowing students that need it, that extra movement.  (Seats #28 & #29)
Pulling the cubbies away from the wall, allows students an extra option of flexibility.  Students who need to stand can do so here.

The students each have a book bin for their reading books and workbook along with their notebooks.  

One last view.  I am absolutely LOVING my new flexible seating classroom!  I look forward to hearing from you with your thoughts and/or questions about flexible seating.

Coming Soon - How to begin teaching your students about flexible seating and the management of your day.

Have a GREAT one!