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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in classroom layout

Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

When most people think of a classroom, they think of a format something like this:

b2ap3_thumbnail_traditional-seating.jpg

Students all at their own desks, all facing the teacher, who stands in front of or next to the blackboard, whiteboard, projector screen, etc.

Does this look like your classroom?

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Posted by on in Miscellaneous

furniture 640x398

I loved the idea of desks with wheels. My lessons usually involve some combination of partner work, small-group work, whole-class discussion, inner circle/outer circle discussions, independent work. Movable desks seemed to make sense for this kind of collaborative practice.

And I have noticed  a few distinct benefits:

  • It can be fun to push oneself around in one of these desks
  • It's very easy to push the desks around the classroom (no heavy lifting required) and scratches on the floor are significantly less likely to appear
  • Students can more fluidly shift between partners
  • It's easier for students to turn around to see what's happening in different parts of the room.

With that said, I can't say that this new desk necessarily makes collaboration easier for my students -- particularly since my students are already so adept at team work. Classroom furniture should reflect our pedagogical values. I do see the potential benefits of Node chairs, but it seems like a stretch to dub them "real world" or "21st century."

A few issues that I've noticed:

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Saying

During this Spring Break, I’ve been thinking about that kidney-shaped table in the back of my room. 

Designed to accommodate one teacher in the main groove and up to six students around the outside, that table has been in my classroom since the first day I taught fifth grade fifteen years ago. Truth be told, that same kind of table was in my classroom when I WAS a fifth grader forty-some years ago.

It’s gone through several incarnations: the back table, the universal access table, the pull-out table. Regardless of the moniker, it’s been the place for small group interventions, meaning everyone knows that if you have been called to sit there, you need help. There’s an unspoken stigma to having to go back to the kidney-shaped table. And I started thinking, when my students see that table, what kind of environment have I created? 

What other messages are we sending our students when they walk into our classrooms?

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