Take a look at my classroom. What do you notice?
You may have noticed the technology integration, the collaborative grouping, or the students seated on yoga balls. While the first two are also important in my room, the latter observation will form the basis of this blog post (as you may have guessed from the title.)
|Working together on yoga balls|
Now, I am a man of action and do not like to wait for things. Numerous colleagues, personal friends, and students can attest to this. That evening, I hopped on eBay to see how much yoga balls were. I saw I could buy a lot of 10 for $90. It seemed reasonable to me, so I ordered them.
More balls arrived, and I now had enough for half of my class. The students switched off days of having ball or chair. I had one guiding principle:
If your bottom comes off the ball, you come off the ball.
This year, I decided I wanted a full class set of yoga balls. Again, being a man of action, I decided to start a fundraising page on peerbackers.com to meet the goal. I set the goal of $400 to cover the original cost, cost for new balls, shipping, peerbacker/PayPal fees, and assorted other costs. The project went well and I raised about $250 in the first three weeks.
As momentum was dying down on the fundraising, I reached out to local newspapers and yoga ball companies to help spread the word. Of the newspapers/companies I contacted, The Northern Virginia Daily and Gaiam Yoga Ball Company responded to me. The NVD came into my classroom, interviewed some of my students and me, took pictures, and featured us on the front page of the paper. You can read the article here.
|My email to yoga ball companies. Click to enlarge.|
A few days later, I was paged to the office. There was a large box addressed to me from Gaiam. I opened it up, and there were six balls inside! I was floored. The next day, five more arrived! Gaiam had totally covered the entire amount of balls we needed. We were very appreciative and wrote them thank you notes. We also filmed a Thank You video message to them on YouTube. I was also successful in raising all the money on peerbackers.com, which allowed me to use the money for extra balls and other classroom improvements. All the yoga balls belong to me, so they will be able to travel with me whenever I leave my current job. I also lend them out to other classrooms for them to use.
|On our balls during a guest speaker|
As you see pictures and videos of us, you will notice some students do not have balls. Some students chose to not have a ball, while others lost the privilege (by bouncing too high or focusing on bouncing more than their work.) In addition to being a great way to release energy, it can help as a
|Notice some students do not have balls, |
either by choice or by consequence
I would definitely advocate for using yoga balls in place of chairs. I polled my former students how not having them has affected them in fifth grade. Many of them indicated it was hard to focus now and they weren't as engaged in class or comfortable. My current students definitely think it is a fun way to sit and it keeps them on task. I have heard third graders say they want to have me so they can sit on the yoga balls. I will admit, for the first two weeks the students are very "bounce-happy." The novelty wears off after about two weeks, and then it becomes the norm. It allows the students to move, which is something all students need.
|Former student poll|