Flexible Seating in Third Grade

In Mrs. Anderson's third grade class, students are experiencing flexible seating. They choose the seating option that best meets their learning needs. However, third graders are 8 years old, and they love to hang with their friends! So in order to balance the learning needs that accompany a typical third grade classroom, with students' need to move, play, explore, collaborate, and inquire, Mrs. A needed a plan to get all kids on board. She did this through the Design Thinking Process. Students participated in the Desing Challenge, "How Might We Design a Productive Learning Environment Using Flexible Seating?"  There were constraints based on space, individual student needs, learning needs, and teacher / building requirements. Students worked through the empathy stage, identifying what some of the needs in their classroom were. Some of these ideas included: wanting to work independently but kids nearby are collaborating, interrupting my independent think time, some students messing around at group and are distracting, not taking care of the new seating options, not sure where to get our supplies, and some anxiety over not having the same workspace each day. From there, students defined a more narrow scope to focus on and then ideated ways to rearrange the learning space to meet their needs. Students collaborated on ideas, eventually presenting their new plans to the class. During the presentation phase, students learned how to give appropriate feedback. Gone are the days of kids commenting, "I like it. It's nice." Now, we have students asking deeper questions and pushing the designers to come up with even better ideas. The class used the 4 Quadrant Question process - students are expected to (1) share something they liked, agreed with or approved of, (2) asked a question about something that wasn't clear, (3) discussed something they thought should be changed and followed up with, and (4) an idea they had. Students re-iterated their ideas based on the feedback they receieved and are ready to put their plan in action. The class will continue working to create a new structure within their environment that allows for both creative, interactive learning and quiet reflection and asseesment.