Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Manageable Flexible Seating Options That Work!

I am very blessed because my classroom has awesome seating options. No, they weren't cheap, but some I made and purchased myself and others I wrote and received grants for this year. I have three rotating classes of 24 students each, so these seats get used by 72 students a day. Plus, my teacher friends and I love them during meetings in my classroom.

My classroom is not the only room that has moved to flexible seating, in fact two awesome teachers at my school just received a grant to give each classroom a few more hokki stools, so now all classrooms will have options.

I am always being asking about what is in my classroom, so I thought I'd list the items below. I can't tell you what my students like the best because each student finds what works best for them. During the week, options rotate so it is fair for everyone, but I am finding more and more students know what they need (as far as seating) to produce their best work.

Today I snapped some pictures in the classroom and it made me laugh at all the different options kids had and used. I loved that some of them are even just standing to get work done. I have two rugs in my classroom, yet some students still like the cold, hard tile floor. lol

I find flexible seating options are actually manageable as long as you set your expectations and norms in the classroom. I've seen a huge decrease in stress, negative behavior, and anxiety due to flexible seating options as well.

I hope this post has inspired you to try out some flexible seating options. If you are already trying out flexible seating in your classroom, I'd love to hear about it. What works for you? What is your favorite? Personally, I sit on a Gaiam Balance Ball Chair when I am at my desk and LOVE it. Let me know what you use in the comments below!

Joe Boxer College Foam Filled Chairs
2 Crate Benches
Wobble Cushions
Hokki Stools
Gaiam Balance Ball Chairs

Saturday, January 7, 2017

4 Simple Ways to Integrate Science into Language Arts!

We all know teaching has a lot to do with time management and honestly that can be one of the hardest things teachers face.

"How am I supposed to teach everything in this little amount of time?"

When you factor in band lessons, trips to the bathrooms, nurse visits, absences, weather delays/cancellations, vacations, professional development days, meetings teachers are pulled out of the classroom for, speech therapy, counseling, resource/intervention time, and the list could definitely go much time do you really have for teaching?

#1. My first suggestion is to get the Scholastic magazine, Science Spin. It is SO worth it. It is connected to grade level NGSS standards, is full of nonfiction reading passages, graphs, charts, color pictures, and is really popular with all of my students. They cheer when new magazines come in the mail and honestly so do I. I love the included Teacher's Guide that has everything you need to teach content and reading all in one. It even comes with close reading questions! This will cost you $0.99 /per student for 8 issues throughout the year, but honestly parents could send their child in with a dollar for this monthly magazine! It is SO worth it!

#2. Book Clubs! Do you use book clubs in your classroom? They are great for promoting student questioning, group discussion, responsibility, and accountability. How about throwing in some nonfiction science books once in a while? Obviously the questions students come up with might be a little different other than the normal character development and plot predicting, but nonfiction books do allow for higher level thinking and really ALL students LOVE nonfiction!

One of the best ways to face this challenge is through subject integration. I am not talking about just teaching science by reading articles, but you CAN pre-teach a topic by reading articles in class, which will give you more hands on time when it comes to the actually allotted science block.

The books below are for five different leveled groups going on in my classroom. Don't think you have time for this? Make it morning work for book clubs to meet, end the day with book clubs, or replace independent reading time with group reading time a few times a week.

#3. Our science packets offer an AMAZING opportunity for students to learn science through reading, answering comprehension questions, and using text evidence to support paired text responses. We have science packets for over twenty different topics covered in 4th and 5th grade science. Each unit provides five opportunities for a student to read about the topic while organizing their thoughts in illustrations, vocabulary boxes, and summary writing.

I've used these for homework, intervention, pre-teaching, sub-plans, extensions, and even guided reading opportunities. Students love the short/readable passages and teachers love that their class has the opportunity to independently understand difficult topics. When making these, I broke down hard topics into five sections so my students find success in reading and comprehension. The best part is the students actually enjoy the new learning and when I send it home for homework, the parents enjoy hearing the interesting passages.

Check out what some teachers have to say about these reading passages. I really appreciate all the positive feedback I receive from other teachers, it motivates me to create more! Thank you all! :)

#4. Have a few minutes? This Nonfiction kit is awesome for grades 4-6. I purchased it through Lakeshore Learning and I've got a ton of use out of them. I've scanned them onto the smartboard for whole a class lesson. I've used them for more information on a topic. I've given these to my students to complete in partnerships and (my favorite idea) I've blown then up on giant paper and hung it up in the room for students to read when they finish work. After leaving it up for a week or so everyone was able to read it at some point and then we worked on the comprehension questions. They definitely inspired the students to investigate the topics more. They are pricey, but if you have curriculum money or want to write a grant, this would be a great purchase!

FYI: I was not paid to promote any of these companies, I just love science! :)