seating arrangements: rows or groups?

Discussion in 'First Grade' started by TulipsGirl, Jan 2, 2008.

  1. TulipsGirl

    TulipsGirl Cohort

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    Jan 2, 2008

    I currently have my students in rows (kinda.)

    But something about groups is starting to appeal to me... maybe I like the idea of having all that extra space to walk around without tripping over desks,...or maybe I like being able to see how 6 kids are doing at a glance... maybe its just because the teacher next door has them in groups and they always look so productive/busy :whistle: I don't know, but I think I'd like to try it.

    I'd like to hear your opinions and experiences with both. Pros and cons.
    I'd also like to hear how you manage them i.e. how you approach chattines , looking at fellow students' work... (personally, my kids are chatty in rows anyway.)

    Thanks, as always for you input!!
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Seating them in groups will allow you to plan cooperative group activities. Cooperative learning has been shown to:

    promote student learning and academic achievement

    increase student retention

    enhance student satisfaction with their learning experience

    help students develop skills in oral communication

    develop students' social skills

    promote student self-esteem

    :2up:
     
  4. emmakate218

    emmakate218 Connoisseur

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    Definitely groups.

    I agree with everything the above poster stated about the benefits of grouping. Children...scratch that...people are social learners!

    I would suggest managing the groups by assigning children to particular spots until you find spots for those children that will work - go with the flow basically until you find the spots to be just right. Change the groupings about every six weeks.
     
  5. Emma35

    Emma35 Connoisseur

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    I don't have desks we have tables. 4 - 5 sit at each table. I used to have desks and always grouped them. I like it better that way.
     
  6. Carebear05

    Carebear05 Comrade

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    Mine actually sit in pairs. I havent changed it since the beg. of the year. I think it works well because they don't have a lot of people to talk to, but they have someone that can help them.
     
  7. TulipsGirl

    TulipsGirl Cohort

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    Thanks for the replies and encouragement to give it a try!

    (I guess part of me worries that since we are such social learners that I'm providing them with another oppurtunity to be social while I'm giving instructions, teaching etc... any advice to that end? I have trouble in general with the chattiness.)
     
  8. MissWull

    MissWull Cohort

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    In the class I am student teaching in she has them in groups and I don't really like it. The students constantly talk to each other, play footsie, and they're not facing forward and it's already hard enough to keep their attention (2nd graders). When I take over for my 2 weeks of full-day teaching she said I could switch the seating arrangement if I wanted...I'd rather do rows so that they are facing forward...but then center time would be a little strange to do when they're not in that convenient groups...so I may just leave it alone.

    I'm sure every class is different, my master teacher tells me this class has always been hard to keep their attention and they are just talkative no matter what...so who knows...
     
  9. TulipsGirl

    TulipsGirl Cohort

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    I think I will try it tomorrow, (tell the class that it's just for today) and see how it goes. If it fails, it's one day and I'll chalk it up to trial and error.... if not, maybe I'll keep it that way, or try other arrangements. Thanks for all of your input!
     
  10. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Jan 3, 2008

    At my school, I've seen both (groups and rows). Personally, I've never tried rows because groups have always worked so well for me. Let us know how it worked for you!
     
  11. Janie

    Janie New Member

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    I currently have my students in three long stuck-together rows. Each row has six or seven students in it. This has worked well for us because they are all facing the front, but because they are stuck-together, they have someone beside them to help them. The chattiest kids are on the ends so they only have one person next to them. (I can also pull these kids apart from the row when I need to.) I like the idea of groups, but the children do seem to distract each other more. Our desks are also several different heights and it doesn't make a smooth table-like area.
     
  12. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Jan 3, 2008

    "I'd like to hear your opinions and experiences with both. Pros and cons.
    I'd also like to hear how you manage them i.e. how you approach chattines , looking at fellow students' work... (personally, my kids are chatty in rows anyway.)"

    Consider: Furniture arrangement should promote teacher movement. The fewest step to get from one side to the other and front to back is what to design. If you have rows make sure they are wide enough. Sit in student's desk, slump down with feet out. That's minimum space. A Sp. Ed. teacher friend is not in favor of groups. She feels the first thing student should see when looking up is the teacher not a another student staring back.

    If you really want know what arrangement is working for you better than another collect data using "Student Engagement Rate" form. This form will tell you who is off task, when, how often, and at what point of the lesson.
     
  13. Youngteacher226

    Youngteacher226 Enthusiast

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    Jan 3, 2008

    I personally think that the most productive learning environment means the "least restrictive environment"! That being said, I wouldn't do anything other than groups. I feel that I have so many different level students in my class and they are in need of different levels of support. I am all for peer influences when it comes to positive academic behavior. I group my students in a way that has at least 1-2 low students with about 2-3 high students. The reason I do this is for the level of support that they can give each other. I've seen my higher kids step in and tell some of the lower kids, "hey, that's not what you are supposed to be doing". And it avoids me having to repeat directions a hundred times and it avoids them being unsucessful because they are too embarrased to raise their hands just to tell me that don't understand directions etc.
    Also, some of the higher kids serve as role models to the kids who might need a little redirection. They model for them how to get ready for a lesson (folding their hands etc.), how to line up properly, staying organized, staying focused etc. And suprisingly enough, the struggling kids really copy them in some ways and it raises their self esteem.
    Third, how else do you build classroom community??? I think that having kids coexsist in groups or as we describe them, a team, you are forcing them to work together, get along, work out differences and learn to work together for a common goal. I do a "High Five Chart" in which groups earn high fives as they are the first to get ready for lessons, the quietest at quiet times, when they work productively especially during writing workshop etc., I mean they earn points in many ways. I have seen this build team spirit since the first month of school. They high five each other, give each other pinky shakes, hand shakes, they compliment each other. I mean I can go on and on.

    I didn't mention the obvious~ cooperative learning opportunities.:) I can list many more pros to having groups instead of just putting children in rows. Overall, I do think it is the teacher's choice to do it. BUt I would just say, rows would be frowned upon in my school. As a matter of fact, my AP even mentioned the group thing when I started setting up my classroom. Although I didn't really need the hint, we were thinking along the same lines, thank God.
    Just my two cents!:):2cents::2cents:
     
  14. Miss Kirby

    Miss Kirby Fanatic

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    Jan 4, 2008

    Hey youngteacher, could you tell us more about the high fives chart???
     
  15. TulipsGirl

    TulipsGirl Cohort

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    Jan 4, 2008

    Thanks everybody!I appreciate all of the pros and cons that everybody listed to grouping and rows. The truth is, many of my lessons/activities involve the students working in groups. I usually have them stationed in different areas of the room and they plop themselves on the floor (it's clean!) I think they like changing positions that way every once in a while...

    Anyway, I tried the groups yesterday and they loved it! (so far. Y'never know how quickly something can get old). They were so good to each other, thank God! they helped each, when some were lost, they encouraged each other to put things away.... I was just so proud of them! I asked them at the beginning what kind of things we need to think about so that we can do our best learning when we are in groups - and they were right on the mark!

    Thanks for encouragement to try something new :)
     
  16. DaveF

    DaveF Companion

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    Jan 4, 2008

    I tried groups of 4 at the beginning. Too much talking spoiled it for them. They are now in flexible pairs. A high and low student together. All but 1 pair is boy/girl. They all seem to like it. I allow for some flexibility during the day when they earn it. If they can't stay on task during work time, I change the pairings.
    Your mileage may vary.
     
  17. Youngteacher226

    Youngteacher226 Enthusiast

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    Hi Miss Kirby, I haven't ran into you in a while..:)I hope all is good!

    Anyway, what I did with the High Fives Chart is just designated a place for the kids to earn group points & display them in a way that encourages teamwork & a little competition (which doesn't hurt if it's healthy competition). So all I did was buy those little cut out hands that you would buy in a teacher's store and I set up the chart on a big piece of poster board. I labeled "Red Group, Blue Group, Green Group and Orange Group" along the sides. I explained to my kids in the beginning of the school year what the High Fives Chart was all about and how they could earn high fives. So as the groups stay on task and earn high fives, I have one student from that group come up and tape a hand cut out next to their group's name. As the days go on, the team that earns 5 high fives first win a reward. When the team makes it to 5, they give each other high fives around the table. It's so cute & it builds teamwork. The rewards we've had are everyone in their group get to water paint & have free time to do so. Another group got to use play dough for a while as a reward. Another group chose to have free computer time. Another group chose to pick a prize from the prize box...I mean anything would work. The most favorite has been the play dough so far!:2up: So believe me, the arguing and the bickering have diminished alot because of the high fives chart because the kids know that they can not earn high fives if they are not getting along, not working together and not staying on task.
    Overall, the chart is very simple but the concept of it goes a long way. I'm glad that I did a table points thing along with individual praises & compliments. :love:
     
  18. TulipsGirl

    TulipsGirl Cohort

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    Well, it was just a matter of time of course, but one of my students got way too silly with her group during instruction time and I had to direct her to a table by herself. She was pretty dissapointed, but she understood why and hopefully she'll keep herself in check.

    Other than that, it's going great -- there is so much room to move around, I can see how 5 kids are doing on their work at one time - and best of all they are really learning to ask kids in their group if they need help when they are done with their own work.... I love this - why haven't I tried this earlier???
     
  19. Miss Kirby

    Miss Kirby Fanatic

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    YoungTeacher, it has been a while since I've been on here! I really like that idea! I have been thinking about doing some sort of "Team Points" but I didn't want it to be too extrinsic... but sometimes that is needed! I like the idea of them earning high fives (that's so cute!) and some kind of activity as a reward. I have hand prints that I can use. I might put magnetic tape on the back and put them in a section on the white board. Thanks-I get so many ideas from you!!
     
  20. sherri0318

    sherri0318 Rookie

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    This is very long, but I really wanted to share my technique that has worked so well for the past 3 weeks.....(it's new to them, so that might be why.......lol)

    Like I mentioned, 3 weeks ago, I moved mine into groups (previously in pairs since school started) and I have both good and bad experiences with both ways. Yes, I have found they are more inattentive now that they are in groups, but here's what I've done to combat the chatting/inattentiveness in groups:

    When I set up my groups, I made sure I had one "trustworthy/responsible" type person in each group. This student is called "group captain" and he/she is in charge of making sure his group stays on task and is paying attention/not talking. I LOVE IT!!! This has worked WONDERS! Now, it's not perfect, but for the most part, all I have to say is "oh, my....group B doesn't sound like they are in listening position".....or "captains, I need you to make sure your group is doing what they are supposed to be doing" or "group captains, I'm hearing talking...." That 9 times out of 10 works like a charm! Especially since they know at any time I might just decide to give the quietest table 3 tallies....

    Here's what I do with tallies:
    I gave each group a name (ok, so mine are Group A, B, C, and D......I know, how creative can I get? LOL) and on my board I drew a box for each group. Anytime a group is doing wonderful, I give them a tally mark (this is very random and sporatic and they never know how many tallies I may give out). The group with the most tallies on Friday gets extra recess........we live in Louisiana, so winter here is not so blistering cold where we can't have recess still!!! :) I'm thinking if it ever gets TOO cold or if it's raining I'll give the group with most tallies popcorn/juice to eat/drink while we all watch a movie. ;)

    Another thing grouping has done for me is cut down on my "traveling time" (which saves instructional time....) it takes to check on everyone to see if they found the right page, etc. Again, it's up to my captains.....depending on what I'm checking for, I'll have the group captain give me a "thumps up high" when their table is finished with a task, or found a page number, etc. (I also give tallies to the fastest group for putting away books, getting out books, etc. ---again, when their group is done, the captain gives thumbs up high, so instead of looking at all 5 in a group to see which gets done quicked, I just have to look for captain's with their thumbs up in the air! I truly love this new system!! It saves SOOOOO much instructional time!!!

    They also give me a "thumbs down" if someone at their table is not listening to them as captain....

    This "thumbs down" procedure has been great, because now, I leave it up to the captain (which I have explained in great detail that indeed the captian is NOT "the boss of you" ----lol I was hearing alot of this at first) but rather they are just trying to HELP you get extra recess or stay out of trouble...(amazing how smy aying this has helped the "you're not the boss of me" statements!) but if someone in their group just isn't cooperating, they'll put "thumbs down" up and I walk over and directly speak to the "non-compliant" person. Which again has greatly reduced my corrective "teacher talk".....captains are doing great and if they can't, THEN I step in to assist...

    So anyway, I also do the "negative reinforcement" (I'm pretty sure I'm using this term correctly, lol, I seem to understand, then get confused, then understand it again, so if I've got it wrong, please feel free to correct me! ;) in conjunction with the tallies (NO, I don't take tallies away....I'm not sure how I feel on that topic, so for now, I just don't do it....lol)

    So I know this is a "NO NO" subject with some teachers, but in my own personal experience as a mother for 18 years, I found negative reinforcement to work, so I do it....for my students, inside each of their boxes on the board is also the word "RECESS". If I am having trouble with a group as a whole, then I erase one letter. When it's gone, no recess for that group. (I start fresh each day with the whole word again).

    Now, if I could find a way to keep them from copying off each other's papers now that they are in groups, I'd be truly BLESSED!!! LOL
     
  21. ~mrs.m~

    ~mrs.m~ Comrade

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    I like to have my students in groups as often as I can. I think they can learn a lot from interaction with others. However, I know to expect a lot more talking, even when I am expecting their attention. It takes more patience from me. Sometimes I put them back in rows for a while.
     
  22. Miss Kirby

    Miss Kirby Fanatic

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    I love tables... but sometimes I wish I had rows. :eek:
    Or at least rectangular tables instead of these new round tables I got this year.
     
  23. jennyd

    jennyd Companion

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    I started the year with groups, but right around Thanksgiving (maybe just before?) I was just so fed up with the constant chatter and lack of attention that I moved them to rows (it coincided with a whole day of "no fun" school...no talking, no group work, lots of worksheets...just to show them how school could be if their behavior didn't improve). I hated the rows! But, as part of our "no fun" day I explained that all the things we had been doing were a privilege and they had to earn back the right to sit with friends. After a few days I let my 5 consistently good kids sit in a group together and left the others all separate. I think i may have let a couple more pair up before Christmas. Now that they're all in groups again (New Year, new start, etc.) they know the arrangement depends on their behavior and they can lose this privilege (b/c they like groups better, too) if they get too chatty.

    I hope this helps!
     
  24. Miss Kirby

    Miss Kirby Fanatic

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    That's why desks are nice - you can rearrange them depending on behavior or what you are doing in your room. But I don't think I'd go back, unless I taught a higher grade level!
     
  25. shirl

    shirl Rookie

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    I prefer my students in groups, but they do get very chatty. I have found that if they start to get too chatty that I stay on them. Instead of working with my lower kids, I will walk around the tables monitoring and moving anyone who speaks. It's just a reminder and once they see that I mean business, the class is silent.
     
  26. snickydog

    snickydog Groupie

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    Jan 20, 2008

    I have my students in groups of four. I've found that it works well when you not only think about student ability, but also personality. I do not put my lowest kids with my highest kids - I don't think it's right for my highest kid to have to feel like a tutor or for my lowest kid to feel intimidated next to my highest kid. Instead, I consider who works well together. Who are my most trustworthy students? I spread them out throughout the room. Children who don't work well together are kept a little further apart. Shy students are seated near a peer they feel comfortable with. I usually take a day or two to plan a new seating arrangement, but if you do it carefully, you can do so to minimize chatting and bickering AND put students in groups that work well for everyone!
     
  27. corps2005

    corps2005 Cohort

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    Jan 20, 2008

    I prefer group seating. I also like no more than 4 students at each table, but because I have too many students versus tables, I have to squeeze another student at each table, which makes 5 students at every table. It's much too crowded this way, and they don't have enough work space.

    Definitely, don't go higher than four at a table. :)
     
  28. bdteach

    bdteach Companion

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    Jan 20, 2008

    I had this discussion with my principal because I too was a fan of groups, but it just wasn't working. She provided me with an insight I hadn't considered and was able to support that insight with an article from a journal (I have it here...somewhere!). The article stated that schools have it backwards. We put students in groups when they're young and rows when they're older, and it should be just the opposite. When they're young, their hearing is still sensitive and therefore the noise that goes with groups can be very difficult for some students. On the other hand, when they're older, their hearing is more sophisticated, as is their need to learn to work in cooperative groups. I left groups for rows, but then found it difficult to get to those students in the middle. I now use a giant U shape. That allows me to walk in the middle of the U to get to all students, and when I want them to come down to the floor for something, there is a big space in the middle of the room. In the case of the child who can't seem to work quietly, I put one desk at the front of the room, perpendicular to one of the sides of the U. I have extra desks, so I placed them inside the U, at the corners. That way if I need some students to work in a cooperative group, they can sit in those desks to work with those seated in the U.

    I did this after the break and so far, so good.

    Good luck.
     
  29. love_reading

    love_reading Comrade

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    Jan 22, 2008

    I have never had my students in rows. There is another first grade teacher that has hers in rows of two kids together. Mine right now are in 4 groups of 6, 6, 5, 5. Next week I am getting tables though and it will change to 6 groups of 4, 4, 4, 4, 3, 3. I like groups because we do so much groupwork/partner work. The only time I hate it is when we have a test and I have to move some kids.
     

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