Flexible seating

13886262_1266799523354345_2007732862226319994_n

If you walk into my classroom at any given time during the day, you’re going to see a classroom unlike traditional classrooms. You will see kids sitting on exercise balls bouncing, sitting on crate seats, leaning on pillows on the carpet, sitting in scoop chairs, laying on mats, and even sitting on stools.

The only desk I have is a pink one seen in the above photo and it isn’t really a desk like you would find in traditional classrooms. Flexible seating has taken over my classroom.

If you’ve read my blog for any given time, you know I’ve been teaching since this past January. The other second grade teacher at my school and I started incorporating flexible seating back in March. It was successful, but our rules/expectations weren’t like they are this year because we were new to it as well.

We wondered how our year would go starting with flexible seating and how the kids would react. You don’t know how excited they were back at Meet the Teacher night. They continue to be excited every day about their seating options.

Our classroom rotates through centers the majority of the day allowing each group to sit at every option every day. This eliminates any sort of arguments like, “I want to sit there!” Everyone has the opportunity to sit every where.

“Where do they store their stuff?” This is another question I get. We have community supplies with bins around the room containing crayons, glue sticks, pencils, scissors, etc. to eliminate kids having to get up and retrieve items. Library books are stored in bins. The kids have binders that are stored in a crate unit when they enter the classroom. They take these to their other class when we switch. We have had no problem with supplies at all this year so far.

Another pro of flexible seating is the fact that my classroom is less cluttered. I couldn’t stand the amount of papers, etc. that would be kept in student desks. They just looked messy after awhile. They took up a ton of space too.

Flexible seating allows students to utilize their individual learning styles. Before with desks, there is always the unconscious mindset that the kid has to be seated at all times. If they stood up, there was something wrong. With flexible seating, if a kid prefers to stand, he can at the tall table. If a kid wants to lay down and use a clip board, GO FOR IT! It never bothers me to look up and see a kid just chilling on the floor and working away.

I know I can’t stand when I have to sit still for too long. Classwork I did for college online classes was done on my couch. I never sat at a desk, so why should we ask kids to do that ALL day long? I know for certain I feel much more tired at the end of a day where I sit all day than one I am up moving the whole time. I’m sure it’s the same for kids.

The combination of doing stations and having kids rotate with flexible seating to me is a winning combo. You’re giving them movement and comfort all day long.

The only cons that I have had with flexible seating is the initial stages of teaching rules/expectations of how to use the flexible seating. I even added where I can take a dojo point on ClassDojo if a child continues to misuse flexible seating. This has helped tremendously. I make it a point to give positive immediate reinforcement to kids who are using the seating correctly so that other kids notice and do the same. I also immediately ward off any misuse. Modeling at the beginning of the year helps as well. It takes time to make sure everyone understands the expectations on how to use flexible seating, but you also have to remember that these are kids and they will make mistakes. The pros of flexible seating outweigh the cons all day in my book.

14333821_1298620450172252_7425792144583653769_n

I can say for sure that the kids act a lot more motivated and excited to be at school. They’ve told me they feel lucky to have the seating options that we have provided for them.

In my heart I feel like flexible seating is best for kids and that’s why I’m such a big fan of it.

-Miss Layfield

Kids Deserve It

IMG_2607

Tomorrow is the beginning of the new school year! The above photo captures my personal motto for this year. KIDS DESERVE IT!

Deserve what, you ask?!

Kids deserve:

-The very best from me (their teacher).
-To feel safe at school.
-The basic necessities (food, water, etc.)
-To be in an environment with a positive and happy classroom culture.
-Flexible seating that allows them to be comfortable while learning.
-Lessons that are both engaging and top notch for them to learn from.
-To feel important.
-To have a voice in their learning.
-To be in a student-centered environment.
-To be encouraged to grow no matter what level they’re at.
-To feel loved.
-To know that their teacher cares for not just their learning, but them as a whole person.
-Someone who always looks for the best in them.
-Someone who is also tough on them when needed.

This list could go on and on and on and on and on. You get the picture. Kids deserve our best. They don’t always come to us at school from the best environment or the best home life. We spend eight hours a day with these kids and they deserve something really great in their life that they look forward to.

My goal is for my students to wake up each day and say, “I can’t wait to go to Miss Layfield’s class!” Not, “Why do I have to go to school today.”

I am also the tennis coach as I’ve said previously. My motto extends to those kids as well.

My tennis players deserve the best from me as a coach. I look at them like they can succeed in this sport. If they aren’t learning something, I’m not a very good coach. They deserve to have a coach invested in them and who cares about them. They deserve someone who knows the game they want to play and who loves it enough to be just as motivated as they are for this year.

So no matter what kids I interact with throughout the school year, they deserve IT! Hopefully I’ll be something positive in their lives.

 

-Miss Layfield

Classroom Reveal

IMG_2221

My classroom is officially DONE being set up for the new school year. While I am savoring every last bit of summer I have left, I am excited for the new year to begin. This will be my first full year teaching (seeing as I started back in January, I’m still a newbie). I cannot wait for all that lies ahead.

I wanted to use this post to share a few photos of things around my classroom. I am sure that if you follow me on Instagram (talesofanaccidentalteacher) you have probably seen most of these photos before, but I’ll try to add a little more commentary here.

In the photo above, you can see that I am as I have said before, taking on flexible seating. I believe it empowers our children in the classroom. It allows kids to utilize their unique learning styles, be more comfortable and increase their motivation for learning. It can also improve behavior and the atmosphere of your classroom which is a big plus.

IMG_2162

My cousin wrote my name on my pencil sign I picked up at the Target Dollar Spot. I think it’s one of the cutest things and this was the perfect place for it. I love the inspirational signs I have underneath too (they’re from Glitter and Glue 4 K-2’s Teachers Pay Teachers store).

I hung my spelling words pocket chart over here as well. I wanted my spelling words near my Word Wall so all my word work items could be together.

IMG_2034

The above photo is a closer look at my Word Wall. As you can see I already have some words on there. I know most people start the year with no words. I did this because these words as Saxon Phonics words that my kids will be introduced to throughout the year. I truly believe if they start the year using these words, they will learn them much better and they will already be familiar with them improving their performance using and recognition of the words.

I also have index cards that I will write high frequency words, commonly misspelled words and words that students as for help spelling throughout the year. It will be an ever growing Word Wall.

My Word Wall is also mobile. I believe in empowering our students to take control of their learning. Have a static Word Wall to me doesn’t allow that. If it’s something they can go grab with their own hands, work with the words, know when they need help and seek the words they need, they are learning much more. At least that’s my philosophy I suppose.

IMG_2270

I will most likely be doing more like a Daily 4 because of time constraints, but I am utilizing the Daily 5 mindset/centers during my Guided Reading time every day. This board allows me/students to know where everyone should be during that time.

IMG_2117

Being a book lover and someone who loves learning about people, I wanted my kids to have an Author Study section of our classroom. I took a bin I will have books in each week by a specific author. The area will also include posters and other materials for them to learn about that author.

IMG_2102 (1)    IMG_2103 (1)

I love my trunk in my classroom. I’m using it for seating and storage. Inside I have my Rooted in Reading units and Guided Reading units for the whole year.

IMG_2125

Since I am using Rooted in Reading, I took one of my bulletin boards and turned it into a RIR focus board. I have our focus book, vocabulary, posters and anything extra related to our story for that week here.

My classroom library is also now completely labeled.

IMG_2153

This is just a photo from my teacher space in my classroom. I love quote signs. I also added a tennis ball coin bank because I will also be coaching tennis this year. YAY!

Below are just a few more photos…enjoy!

IMG_2217

IMG_2136

IMG_2196

IMG_1703 (1)

IMG_1780 (1)

The above are Saxon Phonics crates that I just added Duck Tape to in order to make them cuter.

IMG_1860

IMG_2223

I wanted to end with this photo because my brother said this was his favorite area in my classroom. I love how colorful it is!

I have had so many people tell me that they’d love to be in my classroom and they love what I’ve done with my room. That makes my heart so happy and to me these kids deserve the best. It is well worth all the hard work.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing photos from my classroom!

-Miss Layfield

How to: Crate Seats

The first time I saw someone post about crate seats, I knew I needed them in my classroom. After switching over to flexible seating, I’m always on the lookout for any new seating options. I especially love if something can double as storage.

I recruited my mom as I always do for most of the DIY projects I take on for my classroom. So give her a round of applause for helping with these!

Let’s start with what you need to make your own crate seats:
-Crates
-Fabric (I bought two yards for four crates)
-Ribbon
-Scissors
-Stapler (the heavy duty kind, not what you have in your classroom!)
-Plywood (sizing will vary depending on what crates you are using)
-Cushioning of whatever kind you choose (I used an old memory foam bed topper)

Step 1: Measure and cut your plywood to fit the inside of the crate you are using. We literally DIY’d this with plywood and other wood we had from other projects. However, you can take your crate to somewhere like Home Depot and they will measure and cut the plywood for you.
IMG_2179                                  IMG_2180

IMG_2178

As you can see it fits perfectly inside the crate!

Step 2: Cut your cushioning to fit the tops of the wood.

IMG_2182      IMG_2183

*Tip: We used spray adhesive on top of the wood before adding the foam to help it stay put better.

Step 3: Cut your fabric to fit allowing for some overlay to staple the bottom. There’s no need to cover the entire wood top and bottom since nobody will see the bottom.

IMG_2185

Step 4: Cover seats with the fabric and staple bottom securely. Cut and fold corners if needed.

IMG_2187

Step 5:  Add ribbon. I do not have a photo of stapling the ribbon. All you need to do it make your ribbon into a loop however long you want it. Staple it to the bottom of the seat where it will stick out of the crate. This allows you to easily remove the seat top from the crate at any time. You can clearly see the ribbon in the photo below.

Step 6: Admire your adorable new crate seats!

IMG_2189

I think these seats are some of the cutest things EVER! Seriously. I also personally tested each seat to make sure kids will not fall through them and that they are secure.

Below are what they look like in my flexible seating classroom.

IMG_2194

-Miss Layfield

Classroom library? Nah, library classroom.

First of all, I LOVE to read. I always have and I’m 99.9% sure I always will. This past half school year, I taught all subjects. However, this year we are departmentalizing our second grade. I will only be teaching reading, English, writing, and phonics. That news made me feel like a kid in a candy store. All my favorite subjects!

Being a new teacher, I did not have a lot of books in my classroom when I started. Since then, I have done a DonorsChoose project, had people donate books to me, and bought a lot on my own. Seriously, if you are someone who has donated to me in any way, you have a special place in my heart forever.

I read somewhere that a classroom library should have close to 1,000 books. I believe it too! I don’t have nearly that many, but I’m working towards it.

Why would I want that many books?

I think it’s very important to expose kids to as many books as possible within the classroom. I love our school library, but I also wanted to build my own as large as I can get it. I know it will help with activities in the Daily 5 and during Guided Reading. It helps expose kids to books they may have previously not gotten to read and having books surround them in a loving environment creates a positive connection to books for them.

13600153_1236856426348655_897708067257700394_n

I know a lot of people level their entire library. I honestly just don’t believe in that. I have one row  of book bins in the above photo that are leveled by Guided Reading levels. These books are also not Reading Counts test books. I did that on purpose. I wanted the leveled books to be used specifically for tracking what level a child is on and also so that students learn to read books other than the ones they can take a test on. Their Reading Counts goals are important, but I feel exposing them to books that don’t have tests attached to them helps them to develop a love of reading instead of just thinking they need to pass a test to get points. They should be developing  a love of reading and I aim to help them do that.

All of my other bins are organized based on book series, characters, and similar topics. They are numbered bins with corresponding numbers I will put on stickers on the front of the book so that my kids can easily put them back where they got them.

13528967_1236856453015319_4810739268867740456_n

In second grade, a lot of kids aren’t reading a lot of chapter books. However, when I had a few last year that definitely could read them and did read the ones I had in the classroom. I know when I was in second grade, I was reading chapter books and would have panicked if my teacher didn’t allow it. So, I went out of my way to make sure I also have enough chapter books in addition to picture books to challenge students and provide those high readers with what they need.

Knowing what reading level my students are on is important to me and helping them progress while developing their love of books is my goal. I never want students to feel like books are punishment or reading is boring. I never want to be a teacher that tells a child they have to read now because they didn’t at another time. To me that is completely detrimental when helping students develop their motivation to read. I never want to tell a child they have to read from a specific bin of books or that they can’t choose something slightly above their level because challenging themselves is a good thing. I only want books associated with positive things in my class. If a kid thinks reading is boring, I think they haven’t found the right book yet and hopefully I’ll help them find that right book.

The title of this post says library classroom instead of classroom library. That’s basically what I went for when designing my room. I didn’t want a specific area for books in my classroom. I have them literally everywhere. I did that because I wanted the kids in my class to associate books with positive things. I aim to make reading fun for them and to me, a variety of choices when it comes to books helps with that. I want to see kids when I ask them to get a book walking around the whole room searching for the perfect one just as if they were in a library.

13716109_1245919288775702_5841306363851303127_n

I do hope my future students develop a love of books and reading. I hope they remember that Miss Layfield made reading challenging and fun. I hope struggling readers in my class make that breakthrough and find a book that sparks their want to read. I hope all of my future second graders succeed in reaching their reading goals because reading is essential to the rest of their lives.

-Miss Layfield