Desk Arrangement

How are desks arranged? Are there different desk arrangements?

8 Responses to Desk Arrangement

  1. ratzelster says:

    I’m such a sucker for this question because I think you need to teach them desk ballet in the opening weeks of class. What I do is to think of all the different configs that I use….pairs, triads, quads and coordinate this with their clock buddies.

    Then when I need to use that config (and I move a lot because it’s 6th graders and it’s middle school), I just announce that they need to be in pairs arrangement and so on.

    When I’m teaching them desk ballet, I time them in how long it takes them to move. Our goal is to be there and ready in under 1 minute. We keep time and they earn a reward (something simple like having Pandora on in the next worktime or getting to watch some of a Bill Nye movie). They’ll kill themselves and anyone who gets in their way to meet their time deadlines. I also allow them to challenge other class hours to “Beat their time”.

    Sounds hokey. It is. But if you present it with enough flash and swagger they’ll do it. At first just to please you and have fun….later because it’s just what they do. Time well spent in those first couple of days of class. One of my secrets is that I have a stash of confetti in my desk…when they meet their deadline goal, I throw it at them. They go nuts!!!! and it celebrates something that I am going to be eternally grateful they can do in a short amount of time.

  2. zshiner says:

    In my credential program, nearly all of the staff pushed quite hard for students to be arranged in groups of four. The students would have different roles (recorder/reporter, resource manager, facilitator, etc.) and each student would be an essential part of the group. In a group of four, all the students would rely on each other, would include each other, would teach each other, and would push each other to work harder, be more productive and learn the materials. I had numerous opportunities to watch master teachers facilitate such learning (it’s truly an amazing sight to see), and I had numerous opportunities to raise to the challenge of organizing small group learning. I can see the massive advantages it has to offer as well as the massive challenges I have to overcome before I can successfully structure lessons for such a format, as well as convince my students to combat status issues and make the most of group learning experiences. As to be expected, I have a long way to go before I can produce outcomes which match my goals.

    The classroom in which I spent the previous year arranged students in pairs. While having smaller groups cuts out many opportunities to hear different perspectives, I believe it also offers a number of advantages (at least for an inexperienced teacher such as myself). By arranging students in pairs, I can up the stakes for individual students; when they could tune out of the conversation in a group of four, in pairs they are almost always essential for the success of the partnership. I have experience using a number of learning structures which rely on pairs such as partner tests and pairs-checks. Furthermore, with a year’s worth of experiences, I can anticipate problems and deal with pairs better than I can with groups of four.

    I know I will use both learning structures next year, but I need to decide if my classroom will naturally be set up as pairs which can join together to form fours, or if it will be fours which can break down into pairs. I believe that in a perfect world, students would gain more from groups of fours; however, if I were to organize students in fours, I fear my inexperience might handicap students more than help them.

    Either way, I will definitely have to train them in desk ballet.

  3. Peter Petto says:

    I like the idea of desk ballet, with some sort of map on the floor indicating various configurations. The making of the map could be a good geometry/measurement project.

    Alas, this year I’m a nomad, a guest in other teachers’ rooms, and haven’t figured a strategy out yet.

  4. Karl Mason says:

    Have confidence in yourself with the fours. The advantage to learning outweighs the obsticles that it may throw up, never avoid something because of the problems, be creative!

  5. Debbie says:

    I change throughout the year and the students react well to the change of scenery every half term or so. I start off with traditional rows (helps with behaviour management and the grid-like look helps me learn new names quickly) and then move on to a double horseshoe, sixes etc. My favourite though is squares in the middle and L-shapes along the sides because the kids can see the board easily and it just takes one table move to make a four.

  6. I have always been a 4 person pod or pairs type of person since that’s what I enjoyed most in high school and what a lot of the teachers who have trained me along the way have done. However, I find myself in my first year of teaching with desks that have bars along the right side, making it nearly impossible to put desks together side by side. I have been in and seen pairs that face each other, however, with a class of 35, I feel like that would promote a lot of side conversation time and a harder time moving throughout the classroom. I have reluctantly sort of settled on the single file rows and will have them work in pairs when needed. Any thoughts on how to over come the barred desk dilemma?

  7. I’m right there with you purplegiraffe54. barred desks make 4’s hard and even starting in pairs hard. I’m in rows (grudgingly) and find pairs much easier to manage than 4’s right now, although I used all 4’s last year in high school. (I’m in middle school now)

  8. Jeff d. says:

    We have moveable tables and chairs on wheels. I love it. There is no “front” of the room, and learners work in the corridor often. We have whiteboards on all walls except one, which is mostly windows, so we write on the windows with dry erase markers too. The arrangements change so frequently (we do almost everything collaboratively) that it would be insane to have a seating chart or even a set desk arrangement. In fact, certain custodians will arrange the tables in the fashion of a traditional classroom…in which case the learners know that our first order of business is to move things around.

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