Would it be feasible to use floor pillows or bean bag chairs instead of desks?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Caesar753, Jun 23, 2011.

  1. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I found out that my department is getting moved from our hallway to the portables. The portable classrooms are much smaller than the regular classrooms. My rosters next year will be 45-55 per class, which is roughly the same number that I had this past year. In my regular-sized classroom, 51 kids was a very, very tight fit. I don't know how I'm going to fit that many (and them some!) into a smaller room.

    One option that crossed my mind is to get rid of student desks and replace them with floor pillows or bean bag chairs. Maybe I could have a stack of clipboards for students to use during class, too. Do you think that would work? Would it be some sort of code/law violation to not have desks for students? Do you have any better suggestions?
     
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  3. Go 4th

    Go 4th Habitué

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    No ideas, just an OMG!!! That's a lot of kiddos in a portable. Good luck!
     
  4. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    The only reg I can think of is the clear path to the door. Pillows can make the room rather messy.
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    This is definitely a concern of mine. I thought, though, that pillows could be stacked up against a wall after class, which would make things neater. And also, truthfully, I couldn't navigate easily between the desks in my classroom this past year. There was about 8 inches between the rows, and my butt is a tiny bit (okay, a lot) bigger than that. I figure that it's probably more difficult to have to move desks out of the way to get to the door than to step over a few pillows. I may not be thinking this through all the way, though, and so I'm entirely open to suggestions and ideas.
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    No kidding. And I teach in an urban school. I feel like 50 kids from my school is more like 75 or 100 kids from some suburban school in the midwest. :p
     
  7. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Did you have 50+ desks, or did you use tables? I'm trying to picture a room big enough for that many desks! My biggest class to date was 23, and I had to creatively squeeze that many desks in my tiny room.
     
  8. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    I doubt it's a violation to not have the desks. I wonder, though, if it's a violation to have that many kids in a portable.

    If you're handy, you can make stools out of milk crates and cushions. Hand them a clip board and they might be happy. I'd put a few tables in there for the kids who hate not having a place to put their books or a larger surface to write on.
     
  9. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Keep in mind that there may be kids who would be very physically uncomfortable with such an arrangement, so you would probably need some alternate seating as well.
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I can't imagine the kids I teach being comfortable doing any sort of long assignment-- say an essay or math-- on a beanbag chair. And in a case where you need to refer to a textbook and write in your notebook, you would have a problem.

    I also think that very heavy kids would have a problem getting down on the floor and, worse, getting up.
     
  11. gamerTeacher

    gamerTeacher Rookie

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    I'd give alternative options. I've had a bad back since middle school, and though I can stand and sit in a chair with no problems, getting down to and up from the floor is painful (and embarrassing). Maybe try long tables?
     
  12. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    If your school has a mice problem- they get into bean bag chairs and well think about that aspect too.
     
  13. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    I'd hate to have to pick up all those bags every time they left the room and then you'd have to unstack them for another class. How about just chairs with some type of lap boards?

    I'm wondering if that's legal too, I know resturants and many other places have legal limits on capacity.
     
  14. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    If you go with this option, consider outdoor furniture cushions.
    They wash up easily and are more durable.
     
  15. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    SERIOUSLY??? What do you teach? That's CRAZY! :dizzy:
     
  16. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    I know that we legally have to have an individual desk for each student for state testing. Not sure if state testing is done in your classroom---but just a thought.

    Tables always allow more students to fit into a room than desks.
     
  17. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    I'm sure it is. Check the fire code. This is not safe.

    Not to mention that it is insane to have this many students in an urban classroom.
     
  18. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I agree that the pillows may be very uncomfortable and difficult to write on. When I had to stuff 50 of my ESE kids in the portable,I found that I could fit more children around 6 ft tables instead of desks.
     
  19. kimberlyalice

    kimberlyalice Rookie

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  20. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I believe we have the same legal responsibility to provide each student a desk for state testing.

    I was in a portable for an after school program. I would consider it "standard" size and it had two separate classrooms. I would have without a question needed the center wall removed in order to use both classrooms if I needed to fit fifty bodies into that portable. That said, maybe my idea of standard isn't quite standard.

    How long are your classes? If they're on the shorter side I think creative seating options are more doable...if they're longer blocks then I think they may be out.

    My issue with beanbags is that most of them, especially these days, are rather "wimpy", meaning they don't have enough beads to support a person's back. They're more like butt pads. For my classroom I bought three bean bags and then three additional packs of stuffing, but that would get mighty expensive.

    I like the rocker-gamer chairs.

    I also like the idea of having perhaps a couple options. You could have a few tables in the back and then creative seating options. Of course, then arguments may come into the picture...I don't know if that would be a major issue in high school, though.

    Whatever the case, I find it CRAZY to be teaching so many students...perfect angels or not.
     
  21. SouthSideSTAR

    SouthSideSTAR Rookie

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    I eliminated desks and am going to uses couches, love seats, body pillows, etc in my room next year. We will use clip boards to write on. I am the G/T teacher so my class sizes are MUCH smaller than yours. The kids love it though! Good luck! Hope it works for you!
     
  22. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    The clipboards sound like a great idea. My sister used to teach in a portable without any desks (granted, her classes were also MUCH smaller--45-55 in a class is INSANE!). Anyway, she had a couple of couches, some tables, some beanbags, and a variety of other seating. The students loved it (I think they were 6th grade, which is younger than you).
     
  23. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    I agree about checking with fire code. Our portables are not rated for that many people. That many bean bags would be VERY expensive. What about girls in dresses getting up and down or just sitting and not trying to flash the boys (or maybe they would try)? Then you would have their backpacks scattered on the floor, too. I think in the end it would take up more room.
     
  24. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Well, the question I have is "is your administration providing the furniture?" If they are, they should be able to provide a bigger space or another teacher so you don't have 55 students in your class.

    Otherwise, I would just simply say "I cannot fit 55 students in a portable." Keep the desks and let the fire dept. deal with it. The school will get cited and you will need to be moved.

    This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever read! You SHOULD NOT spend your money providing seating when the school is not doing their job providing you an adequate space to teach!!!!
     
  25. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    Assuming that the school would pay for the seating...

    At first, I was think about the chair-desks that are common in colleges, because they take up less room than normal student desks: http://www.schooloutlet.com/9700BR_Student_Classroom_Chair_Desk_p/9700br.htm

    Then, as I Googled, I found some neat alternatives: http://www.officesightblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/desk-chair.jpg

    http://www.geekologie.com/2007/10/scooter_desk_is_a_desk_with_wh.php

    I know some of my ADHD boys would have loved the standing desk!
     
  26. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    As a big girl, I have to tell you, I would not be comfortable sitting in a bean bag chair, and I would look foolish trying to get in and out of one. I know you said there'd be alternatives, but again, as the big girl, I'd feel kind of left out. :(

    Having said that, I think it would be a cool vibe.
     
  27. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I can see that you all are understanding my concerns and frustrations.... :lol:

    For the record, calls to the fire marshal WILL be made by yours truly once school actually starts and I actually have that many kids in my room--any classroom, portable or otherwise, is too small for that many high schoolers.

    More than anything I'm trying to be prepared for when the fire marshal says that they can't do anything about it or when my admin says that they have nowhere else to put the students. Our school has had overcrowding issues since the day it was opened, and I know that both the admin and the fire marshal have to know that our classrooms have always been too full. The fire marshal comes into our classrooms during drills and whatnot, so they can see how many kids are in each room. For whatever reason, nothing has been done to this point.

    I've had 40 desks in my classroom for as long as I can remember. To accommodate the extra kids, I had them sit around my desk, my work table, and the table where I keep the student computers. In the portable, I probably won't have the work table or the student computers because there just won't be enough space for them. I would almost certainly have to sit some kids on the floor anyway, and I felt like it wouldn't be fair to make certain kids always sit on the floor while everyone else gets a desk. I'm thinking that the fairest workaround was to have a floor-pillow situation with my desk available for students who can't sit on the floor for whatever reason, but I know that that isn't ideal.

    I've looked into getting tables instead of desks. We took measurements, and in my regular classroom, I'd be able to fit 8 tables, and they'd be extremely tightly packed. The tables are designed for 2-4 people, so I'd have to put 6-7 kids at each one to be able to seat all 50 of my students. I just don't think I'd have the space in a portable.

    I'm so frustrated, but I'm trying to be a problem-solver instead of a whiner and complainer. :(
     
  28. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Those chair-desks are pretty much what we have already in the classroom for student desks.

    I like the other ones, but I think they're too expensive. :unsure:
     
  29. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    No mice, thank goodness. :)
     
  30. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Well, I wouldn't be picking up anything. I was envisioning a classroom procedure where students enter the room and grab a pillow. Before dismissal they'd return the pillow to a stack or storage bin.
     
  31. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Evidently I teach the most sought-after elective ever...LATIN! :haha:
     
  32. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Whenever we do state proficiency testing, students are assigned to rooms based on their last names, not based on their schedule or something. Admin would probably just leave my classroom off the list of potential testing rooms. There are several rooms that are undesirable for testing for whatever reason, like the gym or the band room.
     
  33. LUCHopefulTeach

    LUCHopefulTeach Habitué

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    :yeahthat:

    Not to mention, there would be the issue of suddenly everyone's visible underwear and plumber bottoms.
     
  34. yarnwoman

    yarnwoman Cohort

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    I teach in a portable and have had 2 different styles of desks in my classroom. The first looked like this https://www.schooloutfitters.com/catalog/product_info/pfam_id/PFAM2707/products_id/PRO8735
    The second like this
    https://www.schooloutfitters.com/catalog/product_info/pfam_id/PFAM1645/products_id/PRO4758

    Both times I had at least 30 desks plus my desk, book shelves storage etc. Both times it was tight. I always wished for tables like this
    https://www.schooloutfitters.com/catalog/product_family_info/cPath/CAT202_CAT1495/pfam_id/PFAM11395

    Because I figured it would be easier to walk around in the room. I am not the skinniest teacher and 30 desks made it hard to walk around the room.
     
  35. jteachette

    jteachette Comrade

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    Could you use normal classroom chairs and clipboards? That would eliminate the desks, body parts showing, and my favorite reason for not using anything soft: lice.

    I had cushions that the kids could grab and sit on during the reading block. I had to bag them all(and throw out some that weren't washable) because a couple of kids had lice.
     
  36. alschoolteacher

    alschoolteacher Companion

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    I took a college english class that had that kind of setup. There were only 20 in the class, but it was also in a very small room/office. There were a couple of couches and chairs and a bunch of floor pillows. We figured out early on to bring a book or something else hard to write on. I think the clipboards would be a great alternative. You could have one or two tables, then a bunch of floor pillows and small chairs.
     
  37. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I personally don't like upholstered furniture/pillows in a classroom....kind of skeeves me out. Could you bring in risers like they use for school concerts? Maybe kids could sit on those...would kind of fit with an ancient theme...very Coliseum-like!:lol:
     
  38. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    :lol: That's not a bad idea!!

    Maybe I'll go all out and make them write on wax tablets....It would be the ultimate use of realia in the classroom. ;)
     
  39. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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  40. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Funny, I was thinking you need stadium seating like a college lecture hall. That is a load of kids!
     
  41. Miss W

    Miss W Phenom

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    I got rid of my desks last year and replaced them with 6 tables. Granted, I have much less kiddos in my room (at the max 25). So instead of 25 desks I can group students at tables. However, I also have alternative seating in my class. Tables are near walls, which opens up the middle area for movement and more seating. In my room last year I had 2 gaming chairs, 8 stability balls, 4 stability stools, and 4 stability disks. Students who did not want to sit at tables would grab a clipboard when needed. When testing rolled around, we switched our tables for desks for that week. We could have kept the tables and put up partitions, but the desks were actually pretty easy to move. I may think about partitions again this year. Personally I loved the stability disks more than the balls or stools. They are small and very easy to stack. They were also cheaper than the balls and (definitely) stools.
     

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