Meghan Slone

Meghan Slone


Flexin’ in First

As an educator I, like many others, am always researching for and implementing the best practices to promote high levels of student engagement. Over the years, I have observed and experienced the difficult task of competing for my students’ attention and interaction. No matter the issue causing the distraction, it typically ends in my attempts to redirect students’ focus. This is a recurring problem each year, with different students in different groups across the curriculum in different tasks. The problem of poor or inconsistent student focus has been evident in my classroom with the increasing need to take “brain breaks” and “wiggle breaks” throughout the day to refresh student energy, re-focus and improve participation. I want to get ahead of this issue and instead of redirecting my students’ attention, I want to initiate and maintain their focus throughout the day. I would like to change my classroom’s physical structure to reflect a student-centered and comfortable learning environment. The days of desks lined in rows are over! I want a classroom environment where my students have a choice in their seating options that best reflects their needs and learning styles to improve student focus and productivity. I want a flexible classroom for my students!

I have searched different flexible seating options and have found the ones I think best suit the needs of this project and focus area. If I provide my students with wobble stools and standing desks I think that I could reduce restlessness and improve engagement in my classroom. This Learning Innovation Grant can provide me the opportunity to fund this project without disrupting the schedules of my co-workers. If I can use these tools to promote student engagement, specifically for my students that struggle to focus due to the need to wiggle, then I can eliminate the need for instructional assistants, tutors and extra personnel in my classroom. I will use the premises of improving student engagement by reducing restlessness to guide this project. I will monitor the students’ engagement daily to determine which students struggle to stay on-task. Then, I will monitor them as they change their seating options and assess which seating options provide a space where they are most engaged. I will take anecdotal notes as the target students’ work on individual and group assignments as well as whole and small group tasks. These notes will document on and off-task behaviors for the target students that struggle to stay engaged. I will graph and analyze the data to determine the effectiveness of the flexible seating options. I will use the flexible seating options throughout the day with different activities across the curriculum to ensure progress is due to the change in physical space and student engagement, not other variables. I am BEYOND excited to be given the opportunity to test this theory and am eager to share the results with all of you.

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