Assigned seating is a thing of the past for one local classroom

Education Matters

BELVIDERE, Ill. (WTVO) — Typically when you think of a first grade class room desks all in a row with kids sitting in the assigned seat may come to mind.

That’s now how things are done at one Belvidere Elementary School.

Imagine a classroom with no assigned seating and where kids are allowed to wear slippers all day.

That’s what happens in a dual language class of first graders at Washington Academy.

Students in Jetsabel Alcala’s first grade class are free to move around the room and sit where ever they want.

Some prefer a bouncy chair or sitting on the couch to a traditional chair at a desk.

Ms. Alcala believes the open seating concept changes the way students learn.

“We’re not just rearranging how we seat the classrooms overall, but how we’re interacting with the students too,” Alcala said.

That interaction can be fun for the young students. Play based learning is something student teacher Kerstin Fries says educators are exploring.

“How do we break out of the norm of what teaching has been and get away from that traditional and do more for the students and make it fun because that’s how they learn,” Fries said.

Not only can kids choose where they want to sit, they also get to wear slippers, which makes them more comfortable in several ways.

“Having the slippers, it keeps the carpet clean, but it also started to helping them with those allergies so their eyes are not itchy and they’re not having to take that medication all the time,” Alcala said.

Even through this first grade room is less structured there is still serious learning going on in this dual language class.

“We teach both languages. Our whole English is in math. Spanish is reading,” Alcala said. “Then science we kind of mix it in both to have that bridging moment where they can read books about science in Spanish but then also get the vocabulary in English.”

Washington Academy’s curriculum focuses on science, technology, engineering and math or STEM.

It’s a magnet school meaning anyone in the district can apply to attend.

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