Classroom Layout advice - First Year!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Enthusiastic5, Jul 15, 2009.

  1. Enthusiastic5

    Enthusiastic5 Rookie

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    Jul 15, 2009

    Hello all!

    I'm a first year teacher, elementary ed and special ed cert. and will be taking my first classroom on Sept 1. I have 32 students on my roster and an inclusive classroom (5 IEP's).

    QUESTIONS ABOUT CLASSROOM PHYSICAL LAYOUT:

    1) Would you place the students in groups immediately or in rows initially until you learn more about your students? (without knowing how the students work together and whom should not sit with whom?)

    I am naturally apt to cooperative learning and constructivism in groups of 3-4, but with a large group, teachers have told me that I am "nuts" for setting up groups on DAY 1 with 32 in a class.


    2) HOW would you layout the room physically? How do you like to layout YOUR ROOM? My 5th grade classroom is about 12' x 25' and I have blackboards on two sides. I realize how hard this is to answer without actually seeing my room, but I appreciate any thoughts. Some of my thoughts you could possible vote on are but not limited to by any means):
    STRAIGHT ROWS
    ROWS IN A FAN FACING THE BLACKBOARD
    GROUPS IN A FAN
    GROUPS EACH IN THEIR OWN "C" SHAPE
    ALL DESKS IN A "C" SHAPE
    YOUR OWN IDEA PERHAPS?

    HUGE THANKS!!! :thumb::help:
     
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  3. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    I personally always do groups -- but I don't teach 5th either. All of our 5th grade teachers use groups, as do our 4th grade. Two of our 3rd grade teachers use the double horseshoe method and swear by it. It isn't for me, but I find it to be preferrable to rows.

    Double horeshoe -- outside is like a giant C, inside is just a single line that is one desk shorter than the C on each side and is tucked inside the C.
     
  4. passionateacher

    passionateacher Comrade

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    Jul 15, 2009

    I love having students in groups of 4 so they're not lonely in the new grade BUT it gets noisy really fast. So this year I'm going to have a large outer C shape and a smaller C shape within. In the middle of he inner C shape will be the rug for our meeting area. The students' desks are in pairs BESIDE each other. I'm suspecting I'll have around 24 kids so I'm doing 2 sets of 2 desks on each of the 3 sides of the C. I'll try to demonstrate below:
    -- --
    [ -- --
    [ [
    [

    [ [
    [ [
    -- --
    -- --

    In case this doesn't come out right, the C's are block-shaped...a square with a missing side! Hope it helps:)
     
  5. passionateacher

    passionateacher Comrade

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    Ok it didn't come out right! Just imagine a large block C with a smaller block C inside. Each side of the block C has 4 desks, in pairs of 2 and 2...
     
  6. Teacher Chele

    Teacher Chele Habitué

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    I usually start off the year with the desks in a horse shoe or C shape, then I as know more about them, we go to groups. I let my kids choose a new arrangement every six weeks. They love switching things up.
     
  7. FootballGal

    FootballGal Companion

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    Jul 15, 2009

    I am having the dilemma as to how i want to put my desks. The type of desks we have at our school are the ones where the seat and the desk is connected with a basket underneath the chair. I HATEE them. Since I'm moving from 1st to 3rd I have the big versions of the smaller ones I had last year. I would love to put them into groups of 4 (2 desks touching 2 more) but can't because there isn't enough room for the kids to get in and out of their seat. I fooled around with them today and am probably going to put them into groups of 4 in a c shape. I'll have 4 of these groups. I don't know how well it will work but can't think of anyway else to put them besides rows which i HATE as well. lol
     
  8. shasha379

    shasha379 Devotee

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    Jul 15, 2009

    I start off in groups. We do a lot of collaborative tasks.
     
  9. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Jul 15, 2009

    Key to effective room arrangement is ensuring you can move side to side and front to back in as few steps as possible. You want wide aisles where students can't slouch and cut your path off (sit in a desk and slouch - that's how wide).

    Since proximity is accountability while distance is safety you want the kids as close to you as possible. This eliminates the traditional teacher's desk in the front. You should be able to write on the board, turn, take a half step and touch a desk.

    A Sp. Ed. colleague of mine doesn't like groups. She feels the first thing kids should see when they look up is the teacher not another face across from them. Often these faces are not into promoting the teacher's agenda. Then again, proactive management has more to do with placement of the teacher than placement of the furniture.
     
  10. EiffelTower

    EiffelTower Comrade

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    Jul 15, 2009

    Because I start instruction on the first day and require my students to be working with their group throughout each lesson, I will put them into groups of four from day one. Based on their interactions, I will move students accordingly, but we do spend time talking about how a group should look and sound like so that everyone understands the expectations.
     
  11. Missy99

    Missy99 Connoisseur

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    Groups -- but -- check with your P and other teachers at your school. At our school, rows are definitely frowned upon.
     
  12. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Jul 15, 2009

    Passionteacher's idea is a really good one. As for me... I have 25 this coming year, but we'll have a lot of hands-on instruction, so I will probably start in groups (after talking to the Advanced 3rd teacher a bit and getting her advice).

    I've started in horseshoe layouts my first and fifth year, though, and they were the best behaved classes, so perhaps I may start the first week with that layout. I'll really have to see, considering I will have a set of drawers with manipulatives and materials in it for each group. My second and third classes were in groups from the start, which was all right, and my fourth class started in one large group and three smaller groups. That wasn't as great.

    Sorry for the blabbering- those were my exact thoughts out loud...
     
  13. msmullenjr

    msmullenjr Devotee

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    I start off the first few days in rows because they are learning my routine and I am learning their personalities. 3rd day, they come in and we have groups. Just make sure however you put your desks, you can move around comfortably.

    Oh and congrats on starting up. :thumb:
     
  14. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    Jul 16, 2009

    I've been getting the SPED inclusion class these past few years, I also avoid groups to start off with, which my SPED teacher also supports. We're doing a lot of procedures and they're getting a lot of information at the beginning of the year, so they really need to be facing forward in order to concentrate. This goes double for the kids with ADHD. Once I'm satisfied they've got the procedures down and can handle group seating, then I make groups. I will say, however, that the year I had 7 students with ADHD in my classroom (only 2 were medicated regularly), the groups didn't last very long.
     
  15. carlea

    carlea Comrade

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    Jul 16, 2009

    I taught 4th grade last year and had 36 students in a portable (6 had IEPs). I put them in groups from day 1. I had 3 groups of 4 and 4 groups of 6. I didn't fan them since there was no room. The desks were close together, but there was enough room for me to walk through. A lot of teachers used the horseshoe or U or C, but those shapes didn't give me the cooperative groups that I wanted.
     
  16. Pencil Monkey

    Pencil Monkey Devotee

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    I start in a a horse shoe with a group of four in the center of them. I use this group to start showing kids how to handle group work and use their words to work together. I use the first week to teach them this behavior, and the rest of the year with all of them in groups goes more smoothly. Of course, I do not put the shy kids in the center that first day. (Often I put the known trouble makers here so I can show them praise right away)
     
  17. MrsCSoup

    MrsCSoup Rookie

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    Jul 16, 2009

    I teach 4th grade and have always had an inclusion classroom. I find the classroom layout that works best for me is a horseshoe shape. I usually end up with 2 rows of 4 desks in the center of the horseshoe as well. This lets me keep quite a few kiddos towards the front for direct instruction and when we do small groups they simply move their chairs into their group.
    I have also grouped students into pods of 3 or 4 desks. I like this too, but not until after I get a feel for who will or will not work together well.
    Good Luck and Have a Great First Year!
     
  18. intern09

    intern09 Rookie

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    Frowned upon? I am so confused. I too, am a first year teacher. I didn't really want to do rows at all, but was considering it because Harry Wong's book suggests it for the beginning of the year. For those of you who start the year in rows: How long do you keep the rows before switching to groups? 1 week, 2 weeks, etc.?
     
  19. Ellensmom

    Ellensmom Companion

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    Jul 16, 2009

    I usually start the year out in rows, but sometimes I start with a large U, or even have the horizontal rows with the desks touching. This way, they feel like they are in groups, but I can easily separate if needed. I like to mix things up so I change desks about every month or so. Starting out with rows, helps me set the tone and lets them know some of my expectations. I am in a private school so I will only have 13 students. I really dislike odd numbers because it makes it hard to group. Last year I had 15 so I could at least do groups of 3.
    You'll learn pretty quickly what works and doesn't work for you. Don't be afraid to change what isn't working. Good luck!
     
  20. JoviHawk

    JoviHawk Rookie

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    Holy cow! 32 students! Good Luck! I can't beleive you don't have to start until Sept 1. I have to report on Aug. 10. I too always do groups from day 1.
     
  21. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Our students don't report until September 8th this year!!!!!!! (Teachers come back on August 28th.) This is the latest start that I can ever remember -- but our state has a law that traditional public schools can't start until the week after Labor Day -- so that dictates our start date.
     
  22. TeachCA

    TeachCA Rookie

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    Classroom arrangement

    I teach 3rd grade and go along with Harry Wong's suggestion of rows. I've tried cooperative groups but find that my students pay less attention and talk too much.

    We have 2 students to a double desk. So I put them in 2s on each side of an aisle. I'll have 24 students this year (usually had 20) so will see how it works. If not, I may put it in a horseshoe. I just don't like grouping kids. Especially when I have the ADD or ADHD kids.

    I like my students to look only at me when I do my direct instruction.

    Just my opinion
     
  23. natelukesmom

    natelukesmom Companion

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    My favorite desk arrangement is the "horse shoe". There are many reasons for this, one being that it leaves a lot of walk room! It also allows children to sit together but not be starring face-to-face like they do in groups. I have found that children tend to talk a lot more if they are face-to-face, it only makes sense. So the horse shoe fits me best. However, I am one of those teachers that changes my classroom layout often, to allow students to work with new people. So no matter how you set it up at first, it can always be changed to suit your needs. :)
     
  24. Enthusiastic5

    Enthusiastic5 Rookie

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    Thank you so much everyone! Many valid points and things to think about. I appreciate the help for my first year!
     
  25. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I put them in a giant u-shape. I love that way and use it most of the year. I can see everyone's face and easily get to each student.
    I also ALWAYS do boy-girl-boy-girl!
     
  26. polgacri

    polgacri Rookie

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    I have six rows with four students in each row (I usually have around 24 students). I push each two rows together so students will have a seat partner. Every week students rotate the desks - the first people in the rows push their desks back and become the second people in the row, etc. Every month, students will get a new row in the classroom with a new seat partner. Students seem to really like this, it builds a good classroom community and the tallest don't get stuck in the back all the time. This past year I did have a student with a visual problem, so he stayed in the front all year, along with various ADHD students that I would assign as his seat partner. I did try groups my first year, but I felt some students couldn't see the board as well, and they were more likely to be distracted by looking at their group mates.
     
  27. Miss84

    Miss84 Comrade

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    I'm planning on doing the horseshoe shape, not only because of the benefits of less chatter, but because my room is tiny! If I do groups it will take up most of the classroom lol.
     
  28. teach34

    teach34 New Member

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    Aug 9, 2009

    This will be my third year with a new arrangement in my classroom. Three years ago I "took the furniture off the walls". Instead of having file cabinets and bookshelves lining the walls, I decided to put them in the middle of the room blocking off students from each other. Students sit in groups of 4-5 (depending on the class size) and they might have a bookshelf that is at the end of their pod.

    I did a research project on this for my masters and found research that supported that:
    -people (children and adults) like to feel a sense of home, having their own space can give them security.
    -when I block it so not all students can see each other, I am able to "put the class clown" in a place where s/he doesn't have as many members of the audience.
    -it forced me to not "teach from the front" if i am doing a whole group lesson, I call the kids up front, otherwise not all kids can see the whiteboard.

    I teach fifth grade and have gotten many compliments on this. In fact most other teachers in the school now arrange their classrooms in this manner.
     
  29. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    I like that idea of establishing a space for each group. There really is no need for them to all be staring at me. Mini-lessons will be at the carpet then they are off to work with partners or groups at their tables. They don't need to sit traditional classroom style in my room either. Hm...you've given me something to think about. I'm off to sketch it out!
     
  30. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    I'm not starting off in groups. That was my mistake last year. How on earth can we place kids in groups if we know nothing about them? I'm going to use a double horse shoe shape. I will eventually put them in groups once I know which students can work well together and their reading levels. I wouldn't place the kids in groups of 3 because usually 1 kid is left out. If I have any students with IEPs I will place them in the front so that it is easier to monitor them and to limit the distractions.
     
  31. Ms.T

    Ms.T Comrade

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    Bumping this up to ask teach34 if you could show some pictures of your room arrangement or explain it more. With that arrangement is it possible to stand at the front of the room and teach a whole group lesson, or are some groups blocked?
    I usually teach lessons in my meeting area and then send them to work at their desks, but about 20% of the time I teach a direct lesson using the overhead, so I need all the desks to be able to see the board.
     
  32. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    I would strongly recommend that you start out with your students in rows. If you are working in an urban classroom, then I'd recommend it even more strongly.

    Wait until you are sure you have a confident hold on the class before you attempt group work. Then make sure you teach exactly how a group should work before you have students practice it on a simple but interesting activity.

    Good luck.
     
  33. teach34

    teach34 New Member

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    Oct 8, 2009

    Sorry I haven't been on in awhile. With the arrangement I have, there are two kids that cannot see the front of the room, they just quietly move themselves to a spot where they can. Either to a nearby table or up to the carpet. I will try to post some pictures sometime if I can figure out how to do it.
     

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