David Mendez

Flexible seating, classroom tech engage students

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by David Mendez

A group of kindergarteners, fourth graders and fifth graders from Beryl Elementary demonstrated a new classroom setup, called flexible seating, to the Redondo Beach Unified School District’s Board of Education on Tuesday night.

The seating plan, according to Principal Karen Mohr, is part of the school’s effort to work on mind-body connectedness and came from her teachers.

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“They’ve been doing the research and found that there are many benefits to allowing students to sit on a couch, or a little rocker chair, or on the floor,” Mohr said.

“Research has shown that giving students choices improves academic performance, increases motivation and engagement, and improves physical and emotional well-being,” Mohr said. “It also eliminates boredom; that creates an atmosphere of achievement and stellar behavior.”

Kindergartener Brandy Turner — who fought off hiccups during her presentation, to the amusement of the room – said that flexible seating helps her and other students focus and that she chooses scooters because she gets to rock with them while she works.

One nuance to the program, according to presenters, is that flexible seating time is meted out. Students transition into flexible seating during independent time, free time reserved for reading or writing. Seating arrangements are also chosen by students in advance, for the whole week.

“It’s been a wonderful experiment,” Mohr said. “Teachers have been open to listening to suggestions, and purchasing things for their rooms that work for their kids.”

“This would’ve been perfect for me,” said Board President Brad Waller. “I was a kid who could never sit still.”

The students also demonstrated the use of a new whiteboard projection system, by IPvo, that allows students to play math and word games during class, and helps students visually interact with material. Videos showed students organizing parts of speech using specialized wands, which acted as a computer mouse in their hands.

“I love [the IPvo tool] because it’s hands-on learning and helps students engage in what they’re learning,” said fifth-grader Jamie Dimas. “It makes learning fun.”

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