Flexible seating is all the rage these days. Finding information on different seating arrangements and types of furniture is easy. But how do you keep students and their many belongings organized?
We’ve used flexible seating in upper elementary classes for the past six years. Our students are taught from the first day how to properly choose a seat, work where it suits them best and how to stay organized so their stuff isn’t all up in our stuff.
Read a previous post about the types of furniture we use in our classroom. Here’s what we do with all the stuff.
Handing Things In
How do you want to take in assignments? Everything goes in one Hand-In Bin. Each subject area also has a bin. We keep these bins on a shelf. When we need to grade the assignments, they are already sorted in a portable bin.
Pencil Cases-Not Boxes
Where do you want to keep pencils? Students have two cloth pencil cases. One for their writing tools such as pencils, pens, scissors, glue and erasers and the other for their colouring gear. Cloth cases make far less noise when students dig through them or are dropped. They are portable and small enough to be stored easily.
Books, Assignments and General Stuff
Where will students keep their personal items? Each student has a bin. Students choose a place to keep their bin on one of the shelves in the room. Bins are labelled with the students’ names and they can be interchanged around the room as needed. There is enough room to keep the current things they are working on, their pencil cases, library books and other odds and ends. Bins are too small for those students that hoard paper to keep all that paper, so they generally stay clean.
What else? Our students also use a binder for Language Arts which contains everything they need for reading and writing assignments. These are stored on a shelf together. Binders are generally used to store reference materials and organize completed assignments in our classroom.
Oddly Shaped Weird Stuff
What else? Occasionally you’ll be working on a project that just doesn’t fit. This happens. We have a flattened cardboard box which has been taped into a folder shape so students can place larger pieces of paper in it. We tuck this behind a shelf so it doesn’t get bent or stepped on. We also use the window ledge, tops of shelves and any other odd spot we can find when we are working on odd shaped items. Sometimes we’ll temporarily designate a table top as storage overflow space. We keep art projects in a larger bin which just gets tucked on a shelf in our storage closet while we aren’t working on them. We take a lot of photos and videos of student projects and then SEND THEM HOME!
Handing Things Out
What else? Our students hand out everything that doesn’t have marks or personal comments on them. They have learned to hand things out quickly regardless of where everyone is seated. Sometimes materials are placed in a central location and students pick up their own supplies.
What if you don’t have enough room? To make room for all the stuff that needs to be on shelves, we made room by packing up some of our unused stuff. We rotate out our classroom library, so only a few shelves are dedicated to books at a time. Only materials for the current units are in the classroom. The rest is carefully stored in our storage closet and at home. We keep all the extra supplies for students in boxes tucked away so there is never too much stuff accessible. Less stuff to manage=less mess.
Have you tried flexible seating in your class yet? What are your challenges? How can we help? Let us know in the comments below.