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School's 'Active Seating' Gets Students Moving

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Copyright 2017 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

KALISPELL, Mont. -- It's not uncommon for teachers to reprimand their students for leaning back in a chair.

But in Jennifer Watson's and Kayla Ryan's third-grade classrooms at Muldown Elementary, students are encouraged to rock, recline, bounce, swing, swivel, wobble and even pedal.

Gone are the traditional desks and in their place, a selection of alternatives where students can expend energy into more focused movement, reported the Daily Inter Lake.

Team teachers Watson and Ryan introduced different styles of "active seating" a few years ago, but this is the first year the teachers made a complete switch.

"We got rid of desks and switched to tables and did more of a group-work approach," Watson said. "Then for reading I slowly added in different seating options."

Watson, who teaches reading, writing and art, and Ryan, who teaches science, math and social studies, were noticing students were sitting at desks less and less.

"Watching the pattern over the last several years, they're rarely sitting at desks or tables," Watson said. "They're spread out all over the room, so this year we just took the leap and switched fully to that."

Ryan saw students wanting to stand up or sit on the floor.

"With more learning styles, I think this accommodates them better," Ryan said about the change to the flexible seating arrangement.

There are plenty of styles of active seating for the classroom, but it's expensive. With quality seating costing as much as $1,000, the pair headed to garage sales to see what they could find.

"The big thing is to allow those movements to happen in a more productive way," Ryan said.

Toward the back of Watson's classroom, third-grader Oren Grossman sat on a seat that resembled a fitness bicycle. Pedaling, Oren turned a page in a book he was reading that rested on a slanted work surface. It's the newest addition to the classroom and has proven to be quite popular.

"Some kids in our class have a lot of energy," Oren said. "When we go to read we can just essentially move our legs and pedal just to exercise and burn more of the energy off."

Later on, Oren decided to kneel on the seat and lean over to read.

It's all about finding what works. At the beginning of the year students tried all the types of seats. Each week students take turns choosing what seat they will use.

"We spend a lot of time at the beginning talking about preferences and the best work environment for you," Watson said. "Some of them still prefer a hard chair and a table, and they will gravitate to that. So in the beginning we have them test out all the different options."

Sitting side by side on a couch, third-graders Annabelle Adams and Camry Kelch also read. Both have favorite seats - the couch and "banana chairs," also known as "gamer" or "rocker" chairs.

"For reading you can lean all the way back," Annabelle said, which one classmate was doing - the back of the banana chair resting on the floor, her legs dangling over the seat's edge.

Behind Annabelle and Camry, three students sat in swiveling stools at desks with swinging foot-rests. Annabelle remembers sitting in traditional desks.

"I really like third grade because in second grade, like the chairs you're just sitting up straight and you don't have different chairs to be comfortable," she said.

Said Camry: "Now we can sit in pretty much all these chairs. We still have those hard chairs, just in case kids want to."

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February 26, 2017
 
 
 

 

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