Tables or rows?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by schoolteacher, Aug 29, 2009.

  1. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    I just read an article that said by seating students in rows, on task behavior will increase anywhere from 20% to 50% more than students sitting in groups.

    How do you arrange your students' desks?
     
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  3. 2inspire

    2inspire Companion

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    right now we're in rows, 7 rows of 4 (4 on one side, 3 on the other) with a large aisle down the middle. Only b/c I can't figure out any other way to fit them all in.

    It looks like this

    ----
    ---- ----
    ---- ----
    ---- ----
     
  4. mrsnikki

    mrsnikki Companion

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    I have to say that after working in groups for a couple of weeks I rearranged to rows.. the kids were wonderfully focused after that! I am keeping it this way :) They move their chairs for lab time!
     
  5. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    Do you remember where you read the article?
     
  6. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    Yes, I read it in a journal called Educational Research, v37 n3 p279-91, Winter 1995. Here is an excerpt from the article:


    Educational research is not generally noted for the consistency and clarity of its findings, but the evidence concerning the effects of seating arrangements is characterized by just these qualities. All reported studies show that class on-task levels are substantially higher when children are seated in rows for individual task work, and, in the case of some children, dramatically so. The implications of this evidence are substantial and require careful consideration.


    The increases in time on task were most marked among those children who were least on-task in the groups arrangement: individual cases involving changes from 30 to over 70 percent were not uncommon. Changes were also recorded in teacher behavior, with teachers' positive comments increasing, and critical comments on behavior reducing in frequency in the rows condition, and in pupil disruption where, as time on-task increased, so disruptive behaviors decreased.
     
  7. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    Thanks. I've never been a big fan of groups, because I'm the one on the team who gets the students with ADHD, learning disabilities, and other issues. I feel like I've seen the difference first-hand, and it's nice to see I'm not the only one. I prefer students in rows of partners or in a U. It seems like the "it" thing for quite some time has been groups, and I often have to defend my choice for non-groups.
     
  8. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    My students are in tables to facilitate cooperative learning-Research by Roger and David Johnson suggests that:
    Their research shows that cooperative learning improves students’ efforts to achieve. They work harder, achievement levels go up, material is remembered longer, higher-level reasoning is used more, and it provides not just external motivation but also intrinsic motivation.:thumb:

    I manage the behaviors in my classroom- off-task behaviors have their consequences.
     
  9. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    I seat my students in rows. My students often work in cooperative groups. They simply move chairs, or turn them around.

    This study is talking only about individual classwork. That's got to be at least 50% of class time, if not more. Do you agree with that percentage?
     
  10. Mrs. R.

    Mrs. R. Connoisseur

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    I think this is one of those places where you will find research studies on both sides. My classroom has big, blue tables, and my students are seated in a U. I would say that they are at those tables listening to direct instruction RARELY in my class. Most of my minilessons take place in my "living room," and kids can choose to work anywhere in the classroom except my desk area during workshop time.
     
  11. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    When it is independent work time, my kids are focused and engaged with their own learning- at tables. For me, it's more about good classroom management, setting expectations and consequences than whether the students are in rows or not.
     
  12. lteach2

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    I've had good and bad experiences with groups-just depends on the kids. The kids I have this year are very social, so as much as I love putting things in groups, I think I am going to rearrange their desks tomorrow morning in to rows.
     
  13. greengables

    greengables Rookie

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    Does it have to be either or? Depending on the kids, maybe start in rows till you get a handle on their personalities and they get an idea of your expectations and then move to groups later on.
     
  14. krysmorgsu

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    I do rows. The desks in my classroom are not the best for tables: they're the kind that have attached seats with entry on one side. Last year, a particularly troublesome class that I was trying to get under control and I made a deal that they could sit in tables if they showed me that they would be less disruptive by doing it. It lasted maybe two weeks, but the quiet was nice while it lasted!:D

    Honestly, though, it was not the best, because desks had to move in order for students to use the lav or get up for any reason. Sometimes I wish my desks were better suited for tables, but my kids just move them together when they do group work.
     
  15. Lindsay.Lou

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    I tried out tables last year....DISASTER. It was social city. It's worth the hassle of moving desks when it's time to work in groups.
     
  16. ecl

    ecl Rookie

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    Right now I have tables.

    I have consequences for off task behavior. But it would be great to have less off task behavior to deal with.

    I'm going to try rows tomorrow. I'll let you know how it goes.
     
  17. rachaelski

    rachaelski Habitué

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    I have desks in a C shape. During independent work, which is about half the class, students are able to sit anywhere in the room (I have rugs with pillows and chairs). I tell students that they have the "burden of responsibility." They choose their seats, but if they are not on task I will assign them a seat! It is working great so far with 7th and 8th graders!
     
  18. CanukTeacher

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    My students are in groups of 4. I would disagree with that research and would wonder if nothing on the topic has been produced in the last 10+ years. HOWEVER, there is a difference between groups and cooperative learning as defined by Johnson or Kagan. Kagan's own research shows that students learn LESS in groups than they do in rows. However, they learn MORE in cooperative teams than they do in groups or rows. So it would depend on how you define groups.
     
  19. Mamacita

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    As a student, I hated tables and groupwork (is anyone shocked?) and LOVED having my very own desk, in rows like the big kids.

    The individual desks and rows helped keep my work private, and discouraged students from peeking at each others' work. I suppose some people would call that "cooperative group work, " but I called it cheating and I still do.

    I won't go so far as to wish the desks were nailed to the floor as they were in pioneer days, but I will say that those would have been nice for a private, fast-working, bad-kid-hating little girl like me.

    Of course, I also think it would be great to bring back grade-level assignments by ability, not age. Seven years old and doing college math? Awesome. Seventeen years old and still can't add? First grade, and there would be a bunch of them in the same boat, for sure.

    Sorry, I believe that school is for advancing forward, not holding back, and ANYTHING that forces a bright kid to slow down and not learn, learn, learn,or that rewards kids for shoddy work, or that endures disruptive kids and allows them to bother good kids, is an evil thing. But maybe that statement belongs in the "Zeros?" thread, not here? Or about anywhere else.

    Rows. Nice, straight rows, where a child can do his/her work without being annoyed by other kids. It's also hard for "those" kids to grab pencils, erasers, etc. when the seats are in rows.

    Item: I've already had several COLLEGE students - fresh out of high school - wandering around the classroom. . . . . . wait for it. . . . . LOOKING FOR THE BIN OF COMMUNITY PENCILS.

    Unbelievable.
     
  20. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I'm secondary math.My class sizes typically range from mid30s to kiw 40s

    Rows. No question for me.
     
  21. rachaelski

    rachaelski Habitué

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    No matter how many times I see it, I cannot believe you have 40 kids in some of your classes. I cannot even imagine. I think too 2 classes in COLLEGE that had that many students (I went to a fancy private college).

    Sounds like LI needs another Catholic High School!
     
  22. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Honestly, it works for us. And larger class sizes means higher teacher salaries; we're competitive with some of the local public schools.
     
  23. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    Students peeking at each other's work is not cooperative learning. That is group work. There is a vast difference.
     
  24. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    Oh, you have me laughing.

    Thanks for your post.
     
  25. 100%Canadian

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    I think a lot of it depends on the dynamics of your group. I've done group tables before but I find they're most attentive when they're facing the board (in rows). They are too many distractions if they're not facing the direction they need to. There are plenty of opportunities for students to work in groups that, for me, doesn't warrant the use of groups in a seating plan any more.
     
  26. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    My students are in rows, but they are divided into two sides of the room, facing inward, with an aisle down the middle. It's necessary because of the layout of my room. I've always taught with rows like that. I love it.

    When we need to work in groups, we just move the desks.
     
  27. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    Last year at the beginning of the year, my room was overcrowded and I had 4 students to a SMALL table, knee to knee (middle school students). It was awful. The students were very social, and there was even more talking as they negotiated where to put their notebooks and elbows. This year, I have 2 students each at the same size tables, and they all face forward. So much better!
     
  28. Chanda

    Chanda New Member

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    I have my kids in a U shaped pattern, facing the front. It allows me to see what all of them are doing at any time and reach all of them to help them. I have tried both tables and rows and variations of both and I like the U best :D
     
  29. krysmorgsu

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    Too funny! I guess no one told them that in college...you have to bring your own stuff! They'll learn real quick!!
     
  30. each1teach1

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    I seat my students in rows as the norm and have them turn to neighbors to work in groups. My seating chart looks like this

    ----
    ---- --
    ---- --

    --- --
    --- --
    --- --

    It gives me lots of room to maneuver around desks.
     
  31. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    For my secondary english classes I am setting up my tables to all face the same direction. When I want them to work with their table partner, easy enough. When I want groups of four the front two will swing their chairs around to face the two behind them. Here's hoping I don't get all 40something my AP is predicting. then I'll need to put more per table and that's a tight squeeze. My set up works with 36 and under.
     
  32. McKennaL

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    I like clusters for younger kids and rows starting in 4th or 5th.

    THAT SAID... having adult A.D.D. and thinking back to my undiagnosed childhood? Clusters would have been the DEATH of ANY concentration I ever had.
     
  33. McKennaL

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  34. taylorcs

    taylorcs Rookie

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    I arrange desks in pairs. I am at a public day school (alternative program) and it works fine.
     
  35. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    I think it depends on what type of kids you have. Upper middle class kids who know what 's expected of them vs. kids from a ghetto who have no sense of valuing education are vastly different from one another.
     
  36. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    I always start the year in rows, but slowly (as they show me they can handle things) I put them in pairs and then maybe tables. With literature circles and art classes this year, i may need to use tables more (4 of 4) than in the past. I do notice that the kids focus better when in rows or pairs rather than in tables or pods.
     
  37. Hoosier Jay

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    I always enjoyed my personal space in school and hated sitting at tables. Sitting next to an obnoxious snot who thinks its funny to write on your papers and poke you in the side was very distracting. I'll keep that in mind when I get that opportunity.
     

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