Sitting in their flexible seating chairs, eighth-graders tucked away their extra binders and notebooks and swiveled their desks to face each other to participate in group discussions in Alyssa Dioguardi’s English language classes.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Bronxville School Foundation that funded the flexible seating furniture, the students have the freedom to efficiently move around the classroom between individual or partner work and larger group assignments. During a recent class activity, the eighth-graders – who had been reading the “Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie – completed reading and writing tasks individually before swiftly moving around in their desks to form larger group discussions centered around the book.
“The seats have swivel desks and chairs with sturdy yet flexible backs that allow for an appropriate amount of movement during class time,” Dioguardi said. “Many middle school students find it easier to concentrate on the task at hand when this type of movement or freedom is allowed.”
As part of their assignments, the eighth-graders discussed the various craft moves and writing techniques that Alexie used to convey the themes in his book. The students also developed their own ideas of what the theme of the book is and analyzed and tracked the main character through the lens of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. In addition, they wrote personal reflection essays addressing whether or not they enjoyed reading the “Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian” and explaining their reasons.
Dioguardi said the flexible seating furniture enabled her students to engage in dynamic discussions and freely move around the classroom to participate in different group activities without losing instructional time.
“It has allowed me to utilize every area of my room for teaching as students can face any portion of my room at any given time,” she said. “I am often able to refer to anchor charts and ideas that are posted on the side or in the back of my room in a way that I could not have before.