Minneapolis, MN: Third graders and "flexible learning"

Aug 23, 2017, (Minneapolis): Flexible learning: Mixing math and reading with stability balls and scoop rockers When third-graders enter Tom Deris’ classroom this year, they’ll find a pretty standard setup: pods of tables and chairs. Upon a closer examination, they’ll begin to notice a few key differences. They won’t find any nametags taped to the table tops. But they will find wheels on the table legs. ...By the end of September, the tables on wheels will pale in comparison to the stability ball chairs, wobbly stools, scoop rockers and colorful mini-rugs that they can choose to sit on while doing their school work. All of these sensory seats are part of Deris’ years-long adoption of a flexible learning strategy. It’s one part physical, as in incorporating furniture that students can easily rearrange and channel their fidgety energy into.... Some years, his kids show they can’t handle much freedom, he says. And not all students are huge fans of the flexible learning style — especially those who were looking forward to getting their own desk, Deris says. But for the most part, he’s found that this approach leads to building strong teacher-student relations. … Jennifer Molitor, the new principal at Glendale Elementary, is a big supporter of flexible learning. When she worked as a teacher — and later a principal — in the Faribault Public Schools district, she had already begun experimenting with things like bouncy ball chairs, stand-up desks and beanbag chairs, she said. “I think students today are not your traditional students,” she said. “And for them to have ways to be able to sit or stand or lay, just to be successful, that’s how they learn today.”