Exciting Back-to-School Trends

The new school year is bound to be filled with surprises! Changes in technology have made learning more accessible than ever before to an increasingly diverse student body. From creating more welcoming environments to designing lessons with tangible outcomes, teachers are using all of the available resources to best educate their students throughout the 2017-2018 school year. Here are a few key trends teachers are embracing this year.

Flexible Seating

Who hasn't dreaded attending a meeting or a lecture because of the available seating? Students may feel the same way about some of their classrooms. When students are uncomfortable in the place where they are expected to work, learning can be difficult. Step into a classroom with flexible seating, and you may feel more like you have entered a room in someone's home instead of a room inside a school. Flexible seating offers students a variety of options including a place at a traditional desk. In a classroom with flexible seating, one may find sofas, recliners, stools, and even beanbag chairs in addition to ordinary desks and chairs. Various tables or lap desks may be used for students' workspace. Some rooms may also include tall tables for those students who prefer to be on their feet. This kind of furniture can offer kids the comfort needed to help them focus on their learning objectives. While some students will still prefer to do their seatwork at a traditional desk, others will feel more engaged if they can sit in a space that seems more like home.

Think about how you can transform your classroom or maybe just a portion of it to an environment that is both welcoming to students and appropriate for your class activities throughout the year. Many teachers hunt for great bargains on home furnishings for their classrooms at end-of-summer garage sales and second-hand shops. With flexible seating, students may feel like their classroom is their home away from home.

Clever Accessories

Want to reward students with an inspiring gift or useful tool? You'll have no problem locating a plethora of affordable gadgets, supplies, and tokens. Among this year's back-to-school products are a few items that we would not have considered needing even 10 years ago; Technology has changed that quickly. Students use a variety of tablets, laptops, and other hi-tech devices in the classroom now. Keeping devices' screens clean of dust and grime is a new concern. One way to prevent a screen from getting dirty is to use a stylus, but the average stylus can be too slender for children who have yet to tune their fine motor skills. A youth stylus fits a child's hand better. These vary in size and color, plus some can be personalized with an inspiring message or the school's name and mascot.

Screen cleaner mittens are another clever kind of item that will help students care for their devices. Microfiber towels and wipes gently clear away any smudges or specks from the screens of electronics. Those that are kid-friendly like the mittens make cleaning easy and fun. Personalize these or select screen cleaner mittens with characters on them.

Virtual- and Reality-Based Lessons

Even with the continuing push to digitize many aspects of education, there is still a need for students to get out from behind the computer screens to see how their new skills can be applied within their surrounding three-dimensional environment. Microsoft has teamed up with Minecraft, a popular virtual reality among students, to create Minecraft Education. This affordable teaching tool provides educators with premade lessons that focus on objectives in mathematics, visual arts, and even language arts. Basically, Minecraft allows players to build and experiment with environments and characters formed from virtual blocks. Even the youngest of students can use it to plan a three-dimensional project or to transfer what is on the screen to grid paper. Teachers can use Minecraft Education in basic lessons about surface area or volume and in complex lessons about city planning and maintenance. Virtual platforms like Minecraft Education are often the springboard for lessons in technical writing or process writing. Likewise, they often spark ideas for projects requiring the school's maker stations, as many virtual creations may be brought into reality with a 3D printer.

The new school year is time for a fresh start. Take advantage of the exciting trends in education so that you can help provide your students with the best opportunities possible. Find what works best for you and your students so that this year can be the best yet!