Flexible Seating for the 21st Century Classroom Project

Flexible Seating for the 21st Century Classroom Project

May 18, 2017

Student in classroom seated on ball chair

In January, Mark Twain Elementary School received a $5,000 Toolbox for Education grant from Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation for a Flexible Seating for the 21st Century Classroom project.

It's believed that flexible seating in the 21st-century classroom fosters collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical-thinking. According to brain-based research, this can be accomplished through strategic planning of space, furniture, color, and organization of materials in the classroom. The funds from Lowe's allowed for two Mark Twain classrooms and the school counselor's office to change from traditional classroom and office environments to flexible seating as well as changes to lighting and some table tops.

"Implementing flexible seating has allowed for more student choice, collaboration, and creates a sense community," Sarah Benfield, 4th Grade Teacher, Mark Twain Elementary. "It has also allowed for more movement for the students. Students choose new spots throughout the day allowing them get up and move around.Some flexible seating spots offer movement for students while they are learning including rocking, standing, wobbling, and fidgeting which can help with focus and engagement during lessons. Students enjoy being able to pick new spots throughout the day and have learned a lot about themselves and how they learn best."The Mark Twain staff will be looking at how flexible seating benefits students and teachers in the classrooms and compare results to those of more traditional classrooms. More pictures"Thanks to Lowe's generous grant, I have been able to implement flexible seating pretty smoothly in my classroom. Flexible seating offers every student the opportunity to choose a seat where they can learn to their fullest capabilities. My students love coming in every day and choosing a new seat, some even choose to work by their friends on a daily basis and have enough self-control to get all of their work done with their best effort. I have noticed that the flexible seating options such as exercise balls, standing desks, wiggle seat and love seat offer comfort and movement that some of my students need in order to pay attention and focus on the learning at hand. These options have really allowed the students to take ownership of their learning, be more cognizant of the others around them and choose their seats based upon where they know they will do best. I don't know that I'll ever go back to regular assigned seating."

Samantha Zahner
5th Grade Teacher, Mark Twain Elementary


"Flexible seating has a variety of benefits. The students seem more engaged and excited about the activity when they get to write on the whiteboard table. It also allows for me to receive ongoing feedback from students because they write their answers or comments down on the table. I can easily see who understands the concept and who needs additional support. The flexible seating in the classroom also helps teach responsibility. Students get to choose their seat for the day and they must be mindful about who they sit next to. For example, many of the students want to sit near friends but may choose a different spot because they may talk if sitting next to a close friend. The flexible seating is also helpful because it allows for choice in where they sit. I believe anytime you can offer choices to kids they respond better. Some students are more comfortable in certain chairs or on the floor so it's just a matter of them finding what helps them be most successful."

Shannon Harmon
Counselor, Mark Twain Elementary



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