Feeling stuck with room arrangement

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by otterpop, Mar 27, 2016.

  1. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Mar 27, 2016

    My room is teeny-tiny, and my desks are those college style seats with the chairs attached. I teach elementary, and this is not ideal. I don't even have room to have them all in nice, neat rows, so the room is a mishmash of desks going every which way in the only way they really fit. They're very similar to these, except with a half desktop instead of a full one as shown:

    [​IMG]

    I've been trying to have my kids do partner talk, but my room is an awkward arrangement for it and they seem to get off task or confused about who to talk to because of that. It's simple enough to have a kid turn to the person behind them, but it gets confusing when the person is on the other side of an aisle, or when their partner is absent, or when there's a row of 5 and the person at the end has no one to talk to. It's also challenging to have a kid turn to speak to someone next to them when there's a bar on one side of the desk. I hope that all makes sense.

    Anyway, does anyone do partner work with this kind of set up in a way that actually works?
     
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  3. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    I had to deal with a small odd-shaped (very odd-shaped) room, also, but not even close to what you're experiencing. I arranged the room (my desk, filing cabinets, etc.) to provide several nooks for students to work in groups/partners on the floor as needed, but then again, we also had room to rearrange normal-type desks for group work.
     
  4. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Would it be worth the time to get them out of their seats for partner talk?
     
  5. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    For partner work, I assign "north/east/south/west" partners (and jot it onto a card for them) based on their approximate levels in math, reading, writing, and socially. I'll often give them an assignment, question, or something to ponder/discuss with their ___ partner, inserting one of the four directions there. It gives them physical movement needed to stay fresh, it keeps them on their toes in terms of who they're working with, it makes sure they're partnering with someone around the same level as them (or slightly higher/lower...but not the strongest and weakest kid working together), and requires virtually no maintenance/management after getting it going. They transition immediately (overall transition time takes no more than 5-10 seconds on either end), and students who have absent partners immediately see me, and I pair those kiddos off or put them with an already-established pair that I feel they'd fit well with.
     
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  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Can you post some pictures?
     
  7. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I do have a few nooks, and often ask them to sit on floor for partner work. That works out well. The hard part is having them turn and quickly share an answer. I am kind of affectionate toward my weirdly shaped room, but have no love for the desk-chairs.
     
  8. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I like this idea a lot. My room isn't very traffic-friendly, so that's the only real issue I see. Do they keep the same partners all year, and can the partner be anywhere in the classroom? What is your process like for originally pairing them up - do you use a checklist, move around cards, or...?
     
  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I've seen many teachers use the "appointment" method of pairing students. They can keep their same appointments all year, or you can change it up each quarter. It allows for a lot of flexibility in working with different partners.
     
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  10. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    As long as they have enough room to walk around - they'll make it work. I'm in a portable, with a growing number of students (gained two in the past few weeks!), and it's worked just fine. I actually prefer the partner to be somewhere else in the classroom, as part of the goal of using those partners - beyond just always using the same partner - is to give them a quick bit of physical movement in a lesson, so that they are much more engaged throughout.

    I generally change the partners up about as often as I do a major seating change - about once every 1 1/2 or 2 months. I use a list of their names, and then go through and start partnering up students (I'll have four columns after each name, and perhaps the first pair in the first column will be Bob and Sally...so I'll put Sally's name next to Bob, and Bob's name next to Sally in that column). At the beginning of the year, I used the initial assessments to help make those pairings quicker/easier, but as I've gotten to know them, I just do it off the top of my head now. Basically, it ends up being 4 columns of names, each corresponding to one direction. Then, I'll either make, or have the kids make, a small notecard-sized piece of paper, writing each of their four partners on the N/E/S/W (lots of ways you can do that - an actual compass, just a rectangle in the middle, just doing it on the sides of the notecard, etc...).

    It only took about a few practices for them to get it down pat, and just a slight bit of modeling so they know how to utilize the time appropriately and productively. I always make sure to include extension questions/tasks when I have them meet together, saying that no one should be going to sit back down at their seats until they hear me count down from 10 (or 5).

    So overall, it takes a bit of your time to set it up, and maybe 5-15 minutes in class to model it and to practice with some basic questions (Get together with your partner and share a favorite memory from Spring Break. You'll have 90 seconds to both share, and I expect you to be ready to share what your partner said. Okay, get together with your _N/S/E/W_ partner. -- I always hold off which partner until after the directions so they're engaged in the question itself).
     
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  11. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Thank you for the explanation!
     
  12. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Sometimes, but sometimes not. They do pretty good work when they're actually working with partners on an activity and can move around a bit. It's just turning and sharing quickly that is hard.

    I gave my kids something to do in assigned pairs today, and they love it. :) I wish we could do more - I see a lot of benefits to cooperative learning!
     
  13. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Is there a way to arrange their desks into groups? I'm fortunate enough to have a goo sized room, but I've gotten rid of a lot of my stuff to make more room for the kids. I very happily got rid of my desk many years ago and I still don't miss it. (I'm a stacker and all that open, flat surface....recipe for disaster. :D)
    The room I moved into at my current school had gotten tables to replace those chair/desks. It wasn't perfect, but it was easier than dealing with them. Would tables be a possibility? They were the expensive wooden tables, instead they were the more inexpensive from WalMart/Sam's. Good luck!
     
  14. CFClassroom

    CFClassroom Connoisseur

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    Could you put the chairs around the perimeter of the room and use the floor space for group or partner work?
     
  15. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I'd love to do this, but my room is just too small.

    Hmm... I wonder if a kind of double horseshoe would work... maybe I'll think about that for next year.

    I think I have too much furniture, too.
     
  16. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I'm a major stacker too!

    Where do you put your computer though?
     
  17. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    I bought a small, plastic table (2x4 ft) and my computer and document camera fit perfectly on it. I have a rolling set of drawers for printer paper, dry erase markers, and electronic kerfluffle. The top is wood and my printer sits on it.
     

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