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18 Comments

  • Sharon Beck March 19, 2017 @ 7:02 pm Reply

    Where did you get the awesome blue couch?

    • Liz Bowie Liz Bowie March 20, 2017 @ 9:31 am Reply

      Hi, Sharon,
      The couch is Motive Powered Lounge Seating. If you’re looking for additional colors, please contact a sales specialist at 1.800.747.7561. Thanks for your interest!

  • Ashley March 19, 2017 @ 7:34 pm Reply

    Where is the blue couch from?

    • Liz Bowie Liz Bowie March 20, 2017 @ 9:33 am Reply

      Hi, Ashley,
      It’s a popular piece of furniture! The couch is Motive Powered Lounge Seating. If you’re looking for additional colors, please contact a sales specialist at 1.800.747.7561. Thanks for your interest!

  • M. Tyson April 14, 2017 @ 9:17 pm Reply

    I love the idea of flexible seating. I’ve seen multiple posts about flexible seating with younger grades. I completely agree that students are going to be more likely to learn/want to learn if they’re comfortable in the room, both physically, emotionally, and mentally. Personally, I’d like to get rid of all the individual desks in my room and at least get tables. I’m wondering if you have any suggestions for utilizing flexible seating at the secondary level? More importantly, if a student misbehaves to the point where they are no longer allowed to use the seating, and there are no “regular” desks left in your room, what do you do?

    • Liz Bowie Liz Bowie April 18, 2017 @ 12:26 pm Reply

      Thanks for writing – what great questions! I’ve passed them along to our author, Kelly Almer, and here is the advice she had for you:

      M.  Tyson,
      You have a great question! I am glad you like the concept of flexible seating. It does work and has so many advantages.
      To answer your question: “What to do with a student who misbehaves to the point where they are no longer allowed to use the seating, and if there are no regular desks left in the room, what do you do?” I can suggest this option:

      A.) Have the student sit nearest to you, on the floor or a cushion, or get 1 student desk. You can use this as not only for those times when a student needs to be by himself/herself but also for when a student wants a “do not disturb” place in the classroom. I have had times where a student needs to be away from others, for both positive and negative reasons. Always ensuring they are comfortable in the designated spot tends to make the separate spot easier to digest. When this spot is being used by someone else as a quiet space and you need it for another student, simply let the one currently there find another comfortable space while you let the other student sit there for a while. I remind the student I am having him sit there so I can assist him in being the most successful he can be while I focus on the academics nearer to me, so that he can be successful and feel good. It is hard to argue with this logic!

      Secondary flexible seating suggestions:

      A) Start with the three types of seating options: low, middle, and high. Seating options include a tall table that can easily move, along with some regular desks, then floor seating. I suggest you take a poll of your current students: see how many prefer sitting/standing. Have some high seats (stools) for the tall tables. These should be movable as well. Sometimes students push the stools/chairs away from the tables to work. This should always be an option. I would keep a handful of regular desks/chairs (4–6) for those that like their own designated space or prefer the traditional. With only a small amount of desks, this allows for greater movement in the classroom.

      B) Start simple: Move out 3–4 desks for every table option you move in. Make sure you have storage for any materials that were displaced when you moved desks out. I keep my tall tables on the perimeter of my classroom. When we need them in the middle, they are easier to move. Keep floor space between all of the seating options for ease of movement as well. 

      If you have any other questions, please feel free to email me further. I am always happy to assist. 

      Kelly Almer

  • Nancy Everts April 28, 2017 @ 4:18 pm Reply

    Great information!! What do you do about standardized testing when students have to do individualized work?

    • Liz Bowie Liz Bowie May 1, 2017 @ 9:59 am Reply

      Hi, Nancy,
      I contacted Kelly with your question, and here’s what she had to say:

      I have so much extra space now with the desks gone that furniture was easily moved to accommodate students. I have privacy screens, so we used these around each screen.

      Since the students were comfortable, they were able to focus longer! I was pleasantly surprised by the motivation. We didn’t need to take stretch breaks because they were able to stretch out. Therefore, they kept on task longer.

      I had an administrator come in to check out the configuration (students helped me get createive!) to ensure we weren’t violating any rules. I also had my students open their screens, making sure they couldn’t see anyone’s work. This all worked just fine.

      –Kelly

  • Jan McCausland May 8, 2017 @ 7:24 am Reply

    Do your students have departmental? I teach three grade levels and wonder how this could work? I am always changing up the desks and arrangement in my room trying different things, but it still comes back to departmental. I need some of your thoughts.
    Jan McCausland

  • Liz Bowie Liz Bowie May 9, 2017 @ 8:33 am Reply

    Jan – You can connect more with Kelly on her blog at at studylikestarbucks.blogspot.com. In response to your question, Kelly had this to say:

    Jan,

    I am not quite sure what you mean when you refer to “departmental.” Do you mean grade levels departmentalizing…i.e., one teacher instructing the entire grade level in Math, for instance? If that is the case, my grade level and the level before mine (4th and 5th) are departmentalizing next academic year. I will house all of the math materials for my grade (5th) and instruct all students in 5th grade math.
    If this is what you mean, I can assist, but I need to know more specifics. I would be happy to connect with you to help further.

    Kelly

  • Salyshka Torres June 6, 2017 @ 5:59 pm Reply

    I am looking for research based articles or books on Flexible Seating. I am trying to support my belief that flexible seating is beneficial for students. I have come across a couple of articles, many great posts, and blogs but I still feel I am missing the “why” behind it all. I am trying to find where this whole idea of flexible seating came from. I would really appreciate your help. Thank you so much.

  • Carol Stevens July 24, 2017 @ 3:09 am Reply

    What does your normal day look like when you teach math? How do your groups work? How much time with the groups? Do you do any whole group teaching? Do you work through stations?

    • Liz Bowie Liz Bowie July 27, 2017 @ 2:04 pm Reply

      Hi, Carol,
      Here’s what Kelly had to say:

      Carol,

      Thanks for asking great questions. As educators we wish (at least I do!) that I could see into every great teacher’s classroom and get all the wonderful ideas he or she does from day to day. I would be a rich teacher, indeed, if I could!

      To answer your question briefly, here is what my day looks like:
      My school is rather large. There are three sections of 5th and three sections of 4th and 3rd grades at my building. K-2 have 4 sections each. I teach 5th graders.

      My daily schedule starts out like this:
      8:16: Bell rings. Pick up class from playground. Bring them in. Hang up backpacks and items in the hallway. Our building principal just had all coatracks moved into the hallways. I LOVE the extra space it provides me!

      8:16–8:30
      Morning routine (morning meeting), lunch count, attendance and that sort of thing.
      Kids sit where they wish unless there is a specific task at hand. Starting this school year, my class will meet in a circle in the middle of the classroom for morning meeting. This is where the largest area rug sits. I call this area the “anchor space.” The couch and the bench frame this spot.

      I have approximately 90-100 minutes for each math class.

      8:30–9:10 Specials (PE, Library, Art, Computers, Tech)
      9:10–10:50 Math I (my homeroom class)
      10:50–11:10 Math II (second 5th grade class comes to me for Math)
      11:10–11:50 Lunch and recess
      11:55–1:10 Finish Math II with the second class
      1:15–2:50 Math III with the third and final 5th grade class

      Around 2:50–3:25 daily my building has its primary and intermediate arts classes; we are an academy of fine arts.

      My teaching structure looks like this:
      I will usually have whole-class instruction to start with. We gather in the back of my room for “Number Corner” a hands-on part of the math curriculum my district uses (Bridges). After the Number Corner part of the lesson, we head to the front of the room for the one-hour lesson and individual and partner work.

      During the final 15–20 minutes of instruction, I reinforce and support small groups of 1:1. I use many entrance and exit tickets and the program’s built-in checkpoints to determine who needs support the next day.

      For the seating:
      I plan to create different room arrangements for testing (quizzes and unit tests), small-group work and whole-class instruction. These arrangements will be placed on chart paper and kept somewhere in the room for reference for the kids. I will also arrange partners based on skill needs.

      Enlisting the kids to help decide where to move furniture during these different times helps them LOVE the movement and gains buy in.

      I also have stations, which in our curriculum are called “work stations.” Kids have individual folders with their work station papers in them. Every time they go to a “station” they check it off in their folder. Sometimes I assign partners and specific work stations, depending on their latest understanding of the topic, sometimes they can choose.

      In my room the plan is to house all the math materials for all three classes, including workbooks and manipulatives. I am color-coding by class. First class is yellow (across the entire grade level), the second class is blue and the third is green. Workbook bins will be color coded for easy reference. Students carry their cubbie bins with them to each classroom.

      I believe this answers all your questions. Please email again with any further questions.
      I have a new blog you can refer to for more specifics and photos: Coffee Shop Classroom Blog.

      Good luck with your journey!
      Kelly

  • Lori Sherman August 19, 2017 @ 5:51 pm Reply

    School just started here in Jeffco, so I’ve been doing flexible seating all of two days! HA! No one in the school is doing it, but my kids, and most parents, are excited for the innovation. However, I’m wondering how you handle self-selection conflict if one type of seating is more popular than another.

  • Sue Walston August 25, 2017 @ 4:12 pm Reply

    This is a horrible idea. As I read through blog after blog and article after afticle, including your article and the replies, all I notice is that nearly every paragraph begins with or is centered on “I”. What “I” did, what “I” think, what “I” needed, what support “I” got. Can anyone produce any quantifiable evidence that this experiment enhances a student’s ability to learn? This is not a rhetorical question. Please respond with any evidence of student improvement. Please do not respond with your thoughts on the matter. My granddaughter entered third grade this year and is disappointed, saddend and embarrased that she and her group have been assigned to the “little table”. This is a table approximately 8 inches off the floor with some sort of short stool, leaving the children trying to do schoolwork with their knees up around their ears or their legs under the table pushing against the legs of the other students. She hates school and doesn’t want to go. Her principal says that they are all really excited about the idea of experimenting with flexible seating and that she doesn’t know how individual teachers are integrating this “exciting” new theory into their classrooms. She was just too excited about the excitement in the teaching world over this exciting new teaching tool for words. Any word besides “exciting”, that is. My granddaughter is a shy, but friendly, eager-to-please “A” student. At least she has been until now. I understand the value of competition in a learning environment, but children should not have to compete, that is, race to class hellbent for leather and filled with anxiety, to get a comfortable seat, adequate for performing whatever task is assigned. In fact, the lack of such seating and being forced to sit at “the little table” borders on child abuse. This is the third day of school and Dallas tells me that, if she can get enough classmates to vote for her as the VIP, she can sit at a special table by herself that has a lamp or at a regular table. Until she can garner enough votes though (or until her parents reach the school board), she is stuck at the “losers table”.

  • Liz Bowie Liz Bowie September 11, 2017 @ 3:11 pm Reply

    Hi, Sue,
    Thank you for your comments. Best of luck as you address your concerns about your granddaughter’s classroom with administrators. For more research-based information on the benefits of flexible seating, check out EdSurge.com> and nea.Today.org, as well as the resources listed in the previous comments.

    I also asked the author, educator Kelly Almer, to provide her thoughts, and here is what she had to say:

    Thanks for being concerned about the way flexible seating is working in that classroom.

    Here are some things all educators should keep in mind (and probably almost everyone does):

    Flexible (or alternative) seating is more than just bringing in comfy furniture. With it comes a philosophical change for both the educator, children, and parents.

    When we think of being comfortable to learn or concentrate, we have our own individual preferences. Just think of the last time you went into a Starbucks. You look for a type of furniture you want to relax in or that will help you concentrate. It’s the same with students, and they should be given the same opportunity. Flexible seating is designed to engage students for greater periods of time, due to the placement of comfy furniture and the ability to address different learning styles. Some people like to stand and move. Some prefer sitting in movable furniture on wheels, while some prefer sitting low to the ground.

    The one guiding rule is this: students need to be engaged and focused on their work. Teachers can also move students for educational purposes, as driven by the educational task. But students need to be involved in the process as well. They need to learn what types of learners they are. This helps them figure out what type of seating works best for them. The teacher should give the students these learning-style inventories to pinpoint what types of learners are in the room. Then furniture arrangements can be configured to best meet those needs.

    Sometimes students are asked to sit in certain places in the room, but these shouldn’t always be their assigned spots. They should be allowed to move around the room and try new spots. That is what flexible seating is all about: the freedom to move and relax. Everyone benefits.

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