Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Choices, Choices, Choices

I firmly believe in the power of choice for kids. I will admit that I'm not nearly as good about making sure choice is built into our day as I would like to be.

I recently heard another first grade teacher talk about ways she incorporated choice in her classroom. One thing she did that really struck me was not assigning seats and setting her tables at different heights. Not assigning seats is new to me. I've always assigned seats, although I have let kids make requests.

I was really excited about this possibility. So, this year I have one tall table where students can stand to work, two typical tables with chairs, and one table on the ground for students to sit on the floor and work.

So far, I'm thrilled with it. The kids haven't seemed fazed by it at all and just find a spot at different times throughout the day.

One interesting unexpected result is that the kids have adopted other areas of the classroom for themselves. I have one desk set up as a home base for the other teachers who come to work in my room and the kids have sat there to work. One certain kid has totally grabbed it as his place. I also have a desk sitting alone for students who need a moment on their own before rejoining the group. Kids have also decided to work there. It seems that no spot is off limits to them. It seems that the classroom is ours rather than mine already. I couldn't ask for more than that on the third day.

(Just as an aside, I'm sewing a skirt for the tall table. It is driving me crazy that it looks so messy with all the stuff underneath it. I want it for storage, but I want it to look nicer. We'll see how the sewing goes, I'm not much of a seamstress.)


Jan said...

You could just use velcro on the table and on the fabric. If you don't want to sew you could use that iron on tape for the hems.

Anna said...

I haven't had much luck with Velcro staying,so what I do is get a cheap bed sheet and pin it up with push pins. It looks crisp and clean ... And requires no sewing.

Tricia said...

I've been thinking of you this week. How does it feel to be a first grade veteran? Enjoy your new kids!

Michaele Sommerville said...


Blink said...

Love the various tables and especially the one where kids can stand! I have a husband who always had a "Churchill" standing desk on which to work in his many work sites- he decided it kept him more alert and productive. In my class I had a table raised a few years back to accommodate a child in a wheelchair and was surprised to see other first and second graders gravitate toward it to stand as they worked. They loved they could be partners with our student in the chair. They also found they could move a bit more to work which I think helped center them physically. I love your choices in work areas. It really lets kids work out their own best work positions!

ManOnTheMove said...

This seems brilliant, I know much of my best thinking has revolved around my ability to be slightly mobile, sitting down, standing up, or walking around a bit. This really could create more of a community space where students could feel increased interaction and agency for their learning, all by being able to choose their specific learning space from moment to moment. Very high on what you are doing here. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

I really like the idea of choices. For humans to be happy, we need choices, if we are having a bad day, having choices comforts us. We can say, "I would like this or I would like that," instead of being forced into one unchangeable choice, such as an arranged desk. To walk into a room and have different choices of desks will comfort children and spur their creativity. "Last time I was at this desk, and did such and such, today I will go to this desk because I am feeling the need to sew, or whatever." Creative desks and creative choices are invaluable
for learning and interacting with the things on our desk. We even might get nervous if someone comes and messes up our desk. That's a whole other problem. I really liked this article.