Eighty diverse, capable, and resilient 6th graders enter my classroom each day. All of my students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch and we are a Title 1 school. My students come from 10+ countries and speak multiple languages; over half are learning English. My students also have a variety of special needs and roughly 25% have Individualized Education Programs. All of my students are capable of mastering the 6th grade science standards and I modify my instruction to ensure their academic needs are met, but there is so much more to teaching than the curriculum.
The world is a scary place for many of my students, so I strive to ensure our classroom is their safe haven.
Many of my students must cope with significant challenges on a daily basis, but despite these obstacles they are optimistic about their futures and want to do well in school. My students have a variety of academic, social-emotional, and linguistic needs, but they are also talented, kind, and ready to take on the world.
My students are constantly growing and changing. In 6th grade, students who are 4 feet tall learn alongside those who have already surpassed the 6 feet mark. Consequently, the same seat is not comfortable for all of my students. In science, students are constantly learning new things in new ways. Research has shown that classroom design influences the levels of engagement and interaction students have with the content being taught (Herman Miller, 2008). Sixth grade science needs furniture (Portable Lap Desk and stools) that can adjust to labs, group work, projects, and independent work. We need a versatile classroom that can transition with us.
Alternative seating is another way I can help my students own their learning.
My students do best when given autonomy, which is a research based practice, so I strive to ensure my students have choice and voice in all we do. To determine how we would use the alternative seating, I surveyed my students to learn more about their thoughts regarding alternative seating. 80% of my students would like chairs that allow them to move in some way. The stools will enable them to do so. Over 95% of my students would like seating that lets them easily work by themselves or in a group. Lap desks will provide students to have a work space anywhere or with anyone, while the floor chairs will allow students to work on their own when needed. Research has found that when students are uncomfortable, they are distracted, and this hinders the learning process (Herman Miller, 2008). My students agree. One quote from the survey says it best: “everyone should have a flexible seat because everyone wants to be cozy and comfortable. Am I right? Don't you want to be cozy and comfortable while doing your work?”
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