NORTH JACKSON, Ohio (WKBN) – Teachers at some schools in the Valley are taking a new approach to how they configure their classrooms. The new thinking has targeted the one thing students are confined in most of the day – their seats.
In Cara Vernal’s third grade classroom at Jackson-Milton, students use big, colorful exercise balls to sit on. She says the superintendent there came to her last year and asked if she would be willing to try it, and she said it was an instant hit.
“A lot of kids that have a lot of energy (fidgeting) they need to get out can get it out on the chair instead of bothering their partner or just being off task. They can usually get that energy out that way,” Vernal said.
The first set of ball seats didn’t have sand in the bottom and the balls rolled around when no one was sitting on them. New seats this year have the sand in the bottom, which keeps the balls stationary.
Students don’t have to use an exercise ball if they don’t want to. Some students choose conventional seats. But Vernal, who is nine months pregnant, says the exercise ball is comfortable for her, too.
At Glenwood Middle School in Boardman, some classes have ditched the normal desk/chair combo for rolling desks on wheels. That’s what science teacher Eric Diefenderfer did in his classroom. Diefenderfer said he has noticed that when students use the desks, they are more relaxed because they can swivel and move. Students say they can swivel to see the teacher if he is at the board or another part of the classroom.
“Instead of straining their necks, they can just swivel in their desk and actually follow me around and pay attention more,” Diefenderfer said.
Grant money was used to purchase the desks in Diefenderfer’s class. Two science classes use them now, too.