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Lenoir County Public Schools: About LCPS Elementary Schools New way of sitting keeps third-graders on the ball

New way of sitting keeps third-graders on the ball

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Courtney Newberry’s third-grade class is on the ball at La Grange Elementary School.

According to their teacher, the students are energized and engaged. They practice their reading skills and review spelling words and take tests like other third graders. One thing they don’t do is spend the school day sitting in chairs.

When they sit, they sit on molded vinyl spheres called stability balls.

Newberry used an online crowdfunding site, Donors Choose, to raise $1,241 to buy her class the stability balls. The campaign began in the fall and was fully funded by year’s end. The students have been sitting on the stability balls for about two months.

“If you sit on a ball you want to make sure you don’t fall off,” Newberry said. “When you are sitting up straight on a ball you are paying attention to what you are doing and therefore more alert in the classroom. Also, it is a great way for them to practice their balance. We also use the stability balls for fun exercises during recess if we are unable to go outside that day.”

Children who are 7 or 8 years old don’t like to sit still for long periods of time. Newberry credits the stability balls with providing a way for students to channel their tendency to fidget without creating a distraction for their classmates. “My students are more engaged during instructional time,” she said.

Contributions for the stability balls came through the website from near and far – from people who know children in the classroom to a group of software testers at SAS in Cary who work to encourage STEM education. During the campaign, Newberry’s students used their iPads to track donations.

“I was unsure if we would reach our goal since that was a large amount and also because some people were unsure of what ‘stability balls’ were,” she said. “I chose Donors Choose because they can reach more people with their website. Large companies and private donors are always looking for great classroom projects to fund.”

In a thank-you letter to contributors posted on her Donors Choose page, Newberry reported on her students’ transition to the stability balls.

“It took them a few days to get used to sitting on the balls,” she wrote. “Some students don't have the motor skills/balance to control their body on the ball and right away they knew they needed a chair. Currently, I have 18 students using the balls and two students that switch between the ball and the chair. I think that this is great because the students are learning their personal preferences and are making decisions about their seat choice because they know how it will affect their day.”