The Truth About Alternative Seating

Ya'll, I am going to be real with you: alternative seating is not for everyone. As many of you know, last summer I did a Donor's Choose project for alternative seating in my classroom. I had done my research on the effectiveness, I had chosen a plethora of seating options, and I was ready to dive in head first!

I was thrilled to have ALL.THE.COLORS. that matched perfectly with my classroom decor. See- look how wonderful it all came together!


So, my 2nd graders filed in and were THRILLED to have landed in Mrs. Bright's class. Mrs. Bright had the cool chairs, Mrs. Bright had tables with exercise balls! Thank you, Mrs. Bright for understanding that my seven year old son needs to wiggle.

Yes, all of these things were said, and yes they are were true. But, what I didn't take into account was the newness as a whole both for me and for my students... but I will get back to that. I also didn't take into account that SOME alternative seating may have been easier to manage than ALL alternative seating. You see, I wanted to dive in and I needed my kids to quickly learn about each seating arrangement because, umm, where were they going to sit in the mean time? So, by the end of week 1, my students were sitting in wobble chairs, ball chairs, bean bags, and beach chairs. NEWS FLASH: THAT'S WAY TOO MANY OPTIONS AFTER ONLY 5 DAYS OF SCHOOL. 

 But, what about the research I did? I couldn't give up on the thousand dollar transformation I gave my classroom. I had to make it work. So, what did I do? I allowed my students to learn about the final few seating options in week 2.  That was a terrible idea. 

Don't get me wrong, my students absolutely loved it. They loved the freedom, they loved to be able to wiggle and not get in trouble. But the research I did about students being more attentive- I felt like they were just as attentive and engaged in years past. I thought I was losing every last bit of teacher mind I had left.

See, before I transformed my room into an alternative seating chaotic classroom, I still allowed my students to move around the room during centers and independent or partner work time. I was totally fine with laying on bellies, or grabbing clipboards and working practically anywhere in the classroom. So, as I mentioned before, the newness of the idea of alternative seating was something both I had to get used to, but also something my students had to get used to. My group of students were a rowdy bunch- one of my favorite classes, but rowdy nonetheless. I thought we had modeled, modeled, and modeled some more the expectations of the seating. I allowed my students to choose their seats every Monday morning. Some of my students chose the ball chairs each Monday if they had earned first choice. (They earned it based on turned in work, clip chart choices, and being a respectful student outside of our classroom walls). The problem was, the students that really needed to wiggle and the ones who became overstimulated quickly were the ones choosing last each week. I had one particular student who NEEDED to be in a ball chair. He needed to wiggle, he needed to be active. He barely ever earned the ball chair based on the above criteria. I didn't want him on a ball chair, or any chair for that matter, because of his destructive tendencies. I felt like I was fighting a losing battle.

So, I guess what I am saying is alternative seating was not for me. I felt overwhelmed, I felt like I was constantly blowing up exercise ball chairs, and replacing beans in the bean bag chairs. I felt like I had gone through a rather large classroom transformation that was not reaping the benefits I had read about the previous summer. I know now that I rushed into the seating, and lacked the procedural practice this kind of change desperately needs. I needed to allow myself to change back.

As I head to a brand new school, at a brand new grade level (first grade :)), I will take with me a few alternative seating thoughts:
-students can sit and work anywhere in the room
-students should have a seat to call their own, one that won't be "taken" from them each Monday
-it's ok to try something and not completely fall in love with it, it doesn't make you or the people who use that strategy bad teachers
-DO WHAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU- A CONFIDENT AND COMFORTABLE TEACHER CREATES CONFIDENT AND COMFORTABLE STUDENTS 

So you've read through this post and may be wondering what I plan on doing with the Donor's Choose alternative seating I have. Don't worry, it will still be used in my classroom. I don't have as many choices as are seen in the picture above. Some of the items were worn out or just plain nasty. But, some of the bean bag chairs will be in our math centers, some of the ball chairs will be used at small group, or with particular students that need them.

The truth about alternative seating is it's not for everyone, and sometimes heading back to the basics are just as effective. 

What's Been Happenin'...

Hello! Gosh, I have neglected this poor little blog. I don't know how you people with kiddos do it. Seriously. Mad props to all your parents out there who juggle, well, life. I am in complete awe. Here is a little bit of what's been going on in my little world....

My fiance, Eric, told me that when I was on summer break I should really probably start planning our wedding. {Insert panic mode here.} See, the problem is I am not feeling the little details part of planning. I just want to get everyone together to celebrate. We searched and searched for a venue. We knew we wanted to get married on a beach but we were limited to locations due to some family members scared to fly anywhere. Yes, part of me was like it is 2014, people. Ha! No, really, we love them dearly and we want them to be apart of our day. Sooooo celebration, beach, close by.. Margitaville Hotel in Pensacola, Florida was exactly what we needed! So, we set the date, April 4, 2015 and now I should probably plan all the little details! Let the headaches games begin. :)

  

I have also wrapped up my first year as a 2nd grade teacher! Man, oh man, oh man! I LOVED it in second grade. I used to teach 5th grade and as much as I loved their independence and sass, I seriously am obsessed with 2nd grade. It helped that I had an incredible group of kiddos this year. I am worried that group of kiddos was the kind that you only get a handful of times in your teaching career. Each of them was great and they are definitely the reason I loved 2nd grade so much. Ahh! I am already missing those sweet babies and they have only been on summer break for 2 weeks! 

I have also been creating some units for my TeachersPayTeachers store. My 2nd Grade Plants Unit Quick Pack has been quite a hit and I wanted to get another NGSS science unit out there for you to start planning out your year. Which brings me to: 

 My Fast and Slow Changes of the Earth Science Quick Pack has 10 hands- on experiences for your kiddos to experiment with changes including fast changes on Earth, and slow changes. It even has an engineering component that will rock your socks off! If you use the Next Generation Science Standards in your classroom, be sure to get your hands on a copy of this!

 Be sure to purchase this unit at my TPT store here.

I have also begun creating units to go along with my classroom reading series: Journeys. We have the 2014 edition of this and I love how it is aligned to The Common Core Standards so it takes the guess work out of teaching using a basal! However, with this series I was needing something more for my kiddos. I wanted them to have a chance on a weekly basis to write a full length writing piece while sticking to the topic of the story. I needed my lower babies to have an opportunity with some more phonics work. I wanted some comprehension that wasn't just from their workbook.


This is the first story in the 2nd grade series. It is Unit 1, Lesson 1: Henry and Mudge: The First Book. I have started on the next few stories as well and hope to get them out within the next week or so. Boo for family reunions and weddings when I have Journeys units to be creating! Ha!

I will say, this is a supplemental unit and is not intended to stand alone in your students' learning using Journeys. It is simply a resource that can coincide with Journeys materials.

If you want to grab your copy of this Henry and Mudge Supplemental Unit, head here and check it out! 

For those of you that don't know, I am on Instagram these days if you would like to follow me there! Of course, you can always follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and TeachersPayTeachers to stay current on what's going on in this little lady's life. I swear I update them more than I do my blog! Ha! Hope you are having a fabulous start to summer! {Insert "In Summer" from Frozen Soundtrack here-you're welcome.}





Getting Active with Regrouping

Are you looking for a way to help your students who have a tough time grasping the concept of subtraction with regrouping? I know mine did until I started teaching this standard algorithm using active engagement with Whole Brain Teaching. Check out this bright idea!


I teach math right after lunch and I have to pull all my teacher tricks out in order to keep my kiddos interested and engaged in their learning. I wanted to find a way for my students to truly understand what is happening when they are subtracting and regrouping and I didn't want them just going through the motions. So, check out my video below to see how I engage my students in such a rigorous task.


For more great ideas, please consider following me on Facebook, Instagram, and TeachersPayTeachers!

For more bright ideas from 150 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you! Thanks for visiting!

Baketball Tournament Sale!

Want to know a fun fact? I LOVE this time of year. Seriously, March Madness is my favorite time of the year when it comes to sports. I love seeing the underdogs pull through, and of course, anytime University of Kentucky is playing, I want to see them win too!

Are you ready to celebrate this time of year with your kiddos? I have a unit in my TeachersPayTeachers store, that addresses The Common Core Standards with a little basketball twist!

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Brackets-of-Basketball-Fun-Themed-Printables-Aligned-to-The-Common-Core-1147113

Check out my blog post about the many skills covered in both E.L.A and Math! This will be on sale through midnight Friday (3/21) so get on over there and grab yours! Your students just might think you are the coolest teacher ever!

Stop in the name of all things MARCH!

Did I get your attention with that title?! I hope so. I want to shout from the roof tops all about my 2 newest products. Both of which will be a PERFECT addition to your classroom during the month of March!
As some of you already know, I am a big fan of basketball. The big NCAA tournament coming up is music to my ears and just might be my most favorite time of the year! So, in order to celebrate we must do it in style, right?! Right. You will do just that with this unit, Brackets of Basketball Fun!

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Brackets-of-Basketball-Fun-Themed-Printables-Aligned-to-The-Common-Core-1147113

This is a pack of basketball themed printables is aligned to The Common Core Standards. It includes E.L.A. topics and math topics! Some of the E.L.A. topics covered are:
  • Who, What, Where, When, Why, How for both Literature and Informational texts
  • Story Structure Graphic Organizers- to be used with any piece of literature.
  • Double Dribble Irregular Noun Sort- sort nouns by singular and their irregular plural form.
  • Triple Double Shades of Meaning- a set of adjectives and a set of verbs
  • Narrative Writing Prompt and Opinion Writing Prompt




This is a great time to practice skills students haven't practiced in a while, or introduce new topics! My kiddos will be using the Shades of Meaning printables this week. We are so excited!

Some of the math covered are:
  • Double Dribble 2 -Step Word Problems
  • Odd or Even Mental Math Sums
  • Rebound with Skip-Counting Practice
  • Numbers in Different Ways- practice standard form, word form, expanded form, and even base ten drawings.
  • Comparing Scores- comparing 2 numbers
  • 4-on-4 Tournament- Adding 4 2-digit numbers.
  • Write On- Addition Strategies
  • Write On- Subtraction Strategies 
While I am signing my students' clip charts each afternoon, they are working on brushing up their math skills with these printables. Both boys and girls in my class LOVE IT!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Brackets-of-Basketball-Fun-Themed-Printables-Aligned-to-The-Common-Core-1147113


If your kiddos can benefit from this unit, click on over to My TPT Store  and grab your copy. The best news yet? It is on sale until Monday at 11:59PM.


Are you in love?! I sure hope so, I know my students have loved these so far! And now, a new GAME that will keep your students on their toes! It is called Lucky Number 21. I must tell you all about it.



There are 32 task cards. Each task card is numbered for your convenience. On each task card are 4 numbers. Students compete with 2 or more players to be the first person to use addition, subtraction, or a combination of both to get an answer of 21.


For example, let's say there is a task card that has these 4 numbers: 12, 18, 15, and 0. Students are trying to use addition, subtraction, or both to get to 21. A student can suggest a solution using mental math strategies. He could say 18-12=6, 6+15= 21, 21+0= 21. Students must use all 4 numbers but as long as their computations are correct, they win the card!


We started using these task cards today and my students were thrilled. It brought out the competitive nature in my 2nd graders and they begged to play longer! This, too, is on sale at my TPT store until 11:59PM tonight. Go grab your copy and let the mental math thinking begin!

Ahh, yes! If you snag your copy of either of these units, be sure to leave feedback on them so you can earn TPT credits toward your next purchase! Have fun with these and let me know how you use them in your room!

Bright Ideas Blog Hop!



Well hello! Are you ready for a quick and easy way to make your teaching life easier? Think back to the beginning of the school year. Think about Walmart and Target and all of your go-to stores for school supplies... Then think about how your school probably has a "bid list" of places you can use your allotted money for the year. Well, if your school is anything like mine, that allotted money CAN'T be spent at Walmart, Target, or any stores like it! You have to spend your $300 on overpriced, under quality stuff from some random company.

I can't stand to spend hundreds of dollars on school supplies through these companies that made my school's "bid list cut." So, at the beginning of the year, I am very extremely particular on the school supply list for my classroom. Yes, I name drop particular brands of crayons, markers, and glue sticks. Here is why: in my classroom, there is no such thing as, "hey that's mine!" We share ALL of the supplies. I mean ALL supplies! So, I am pretty particular in the types of supplies I want because I need consistency and uniform (mostly for no arguing over who's glue stick is better!). And, well, as you know, some brands simply work better than others. Sometimes you just need to spend the extra quarter! 

I then take all the supplies and organize them into groups. I put them in plastic baskets I purchased at the dollar store. Take a look:


Oh, I forgot to mention, I request plain orange pencils. It's the arguing thing and, well, the decorative pencils tear up my pencil sharpener. So anyway, I organize the supplies into groups. Then, I take an inventory of the supplies I have. 


This helps me to see what I still need. I try to pick up the supplies that I am low on at my favorite school supply stores while they are throwing their back to school sales. I can save some BIG BUCKS doing it this way. I would rather spend $50 of my own money on school supplies at my stores than $250 using the big companies on our bid list. 

This also helps me to stay organized throughout the year. I can see when certain supplies are running low before we are completely out. I can send a quick note home asking for donations, or be on the lookout for a sale at the local office supply store. 

I store these plastic baskets in the huge plastic containers on top of my metal cabinet. It works perfectly because during the summer, those containers store important units or classroom decor. During the school year, they house my classroom supply inventory. It's a win-win, people! 



If you don't already have a system adopted for school supplies in your classroom, you may want to consider turning into a slight witch about your supply list, but in the end, your kiddos and their families will thank you! It is so worth it when your supplies truly do make it to the end of the year! 

To grab some more Bright Ideas, head on over to see what Caitlin has to share about organizing supplies over at Kindergarten Smiles!


You can also check out the topics covered on other blogs. Instead of listing the blog itself, the words below each icon are the topics that will be covered in those blogs! Have fun and enjoy! 




The Social Studies Nerd in Me & The Complete Economics Unit

Let me tell ya a little secret. I LOVE teaching social studies. If you would have asked me this 2 years ago, I would have either laughed at you or cried to you. I had such a hard time making Social Studies meaningful and engaging. Then, something happened.

I had to wanted to make social studies fun for a few reasons: I taught 5th grade in a Kentucky where Social Studies was assessed in 5th grade, I taught it twice a day and ain't nobody got time for boring old worksheets, lectures, and movies, and who doesn't want their kids loving what they are doing in class and LEARNING at the same time?! So, I fully sunk myself into all things social studies last year. I depended a whole lot on a teammate to truly teach me lessons in American History, Economics, Native Americans, and Government. I must not have gotten much from those days my teachers gave me worksheets! Anyway, my teammate is a friend outside of school and she would sit with me and talk to me about these topics. I found it to be quite fascinating and I wanted to know more. So, I had to dig down deep. Just as I was falling in love with social studies, I was bumped down to 2nd grade. Do.Not.Get.Me.Wrong. I love am obsessed with 2nd grade. I feel at home with these guys, but I sure do miss getting to teach social studies for 2 hours everyday! To get my fix, I am trying to create social studies products that meet both ends of the spectrum. Without further a do, The Complete Economics Unit!

Shewww! I am pretty excited about this unit as it is something kiddos will use for the rest of their lives! We all can become a little more knowledgeable about economics but it is important to start with concrete ideas.

In this unit, I provide learning statements, vocabulary cards, a vocabulary story, posters, pre/post assessments, teaching resources, and fully detailed lesson plans. I have laid it out for 10 days but there is a good chance if your social studies block is less than an hour long, it'll take you a few days more.

You will be up and moving with these hands-on lessons in supply/demand, scarcity, specialization, productivity, and more!

 
Head on over to my Teacher's Pay Teachers Store and check it out!
Happy Teaching!
 
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