West Nodaway students in Liz Schieber’s fourth grade class no longer have to use traditional desks and chairs.

Schieber was the recipient of a $500 classroom grant funded by the Missouri Retired Teachers Association. She used the funds to purchase alternative seating options for her classroom.

Emma Hart and Gage McIntyre read books on their alternative seating choices. Hart said, “It’s fun because I don’t have to be doing the same thing every day. I like the balls because they are bouncy.”

Each morning, the 26 students pick the seating of their choice for the day as well as who they will sit next to. Some of the options include a futon, bean bag chairs, bouncy balls, wobble seats, stools, pillows, gaming chairs, bar height chairs and others.

Last year, Schieber tried just a few alternate seats in her classroom and she said the students loved it. This year, she only has four traditional desks in her room. She does not even have a desk for herself.

“The kids work better and seem to learn better if they can move their body while working,” Schieber said.

She stated that before, her students would be easily distracted and would not sit in chairs safely, often wanting to tip back or rock in the desk chairs. Now, the students seem more focused on their tasks. She also stated she hasn’t seen many behavior issues in the class, something she also attributes to the students’ ability to wiggle and get their energy out in an appropriate manner.

“They like the freedom to choose. It is amazing,” Schieber said.

In the beginning of the year, she went over expectations for the seating and had the children sign a contract stating they would use the seating appropriately. She also reserved the right to move children at any time if their seating choice of the day was not working.

Schieber stated that several years ago she could not have imagined her classroom being filled with flexible seating. She said she wasn’t sure she could give up that much control of her room. Now she is convinced that the students’ increase in learning was worth it.

For more photos, see the printed Nodaway News Leader.