Tables vs. Desks-Upper Elementary/Secondary

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Jem, May 5, 2014.

  1. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    May 5, 2014

    Hey, guys!

    I'm trying to figure out how to solve a problem in my room.

    The desks have become traps for toys and junk. Granted, it's the end of the year. But I see the kids viewing their desk area as an extension of their bedroom. HUGE pencil boxes, stacks of reading books, toys in the desk part, writing all over their nametags, taping notes to the desktop, leaving clothes in piles at the bottom of the chair area, etc. No matter how many times we clean it up and out, it becomes a collection place.

    So I'm debating going to tables instead of desks. Having community supplies, books/notebooks on a bookshelf to grab before activities and no nametags. No space that can be claimed and cluttered. Our district is so small we don't have a furniture warehouse, so I'm having trouble finding large tables to use. I had tagged a few from the preschool program, but I haven't heard back from the director on if I can use them or not. So I'm assuming I can't, and hopefully I'll be pleasantly surprised.

    So being a problem solver, I just sent out a request on Freecycle for dining room tables. And I've been looking at Craigslist. I've found a few tables that would seat 6 students comfortably. I figure I would need 5 of these, and then I'd like a large coffee table for students who want to sit on the ground and work during independent work time. I'm also thinking I should have a bar table in case some students want to stand during work time.

    Has anyone ever set up their room like this? Has anyone done away with personal desk areas and gone to tables? I know this is common in lower elementary, and maybe even middle/high school as students don't have 'desks' in the rooms.

    Thoughts? Can anyone help me predict problems with this set-up?
     
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  3. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    May 5, 2014

    And immediately after I wrote this (the kids are testing on Science right now), one of my student's HUGE pencil box contraption just fell off his desk and create a bomb of art supplies and junk on the floor.

    Le sigh.
     
  4. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    May 5, 2014

    I've debated on tables instead of desks with my HS SPE students. They already keep their backpacks on the backs of their chairs. I guess they could keep their books in there, too. As for pencil boxes getting knocked off, I've got one kid that tends to knock everyone's pencil boxes off of their desktops and they are closed. Pencils still scatter. I like having them grouped together and a table would do great for that. Then there are times I like to have them spread out and desks are great for that. I don't know.
     
  5. LisaLisa

    LisaLisa Companion

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    May 5, 2014

    I turn them around so the storage areas is not accessible.
     
  6. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    I'm just really picky about what they can keep in their desks...and I start off strict about it at the beginning of the year. Also, it helps that their books and notebooks JUST fit, and only if they are organized a certain way, so they really can't stuff much else in there. Also, we keep their art boxes in a different part of the room--I have one of those kids storage tub organizer shelves , and their pencil boxes go in there. I give them a small basket (3/$1 from Wal-Mart) to keep a few pencils, eraser, highlighter, etc. at their desk.
     
  7. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    May 5, 2014

    When I taught special ed, my students used tables. No problems!
     
  8. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    May 5, 2014

    I teach primary, but I switched to tables last year, and I LOVE it. I organize supplies with bookcases: http://settingupforsecond.blogspot.com/search/label/Classroom reveal 2013-2014

    My school did not have any tables available, either, so I had mine funded through a Donor's Choose project. I think the total amount was around $800. I found a few match codes, and it was actually funded within a week!

    I also tried to use more alternative seating in my classroom, but it just did not work out. Here is a post I did back when it was kind-of, sort-of working:

    http://settingupforsecond.blogspot.com/search/label/Alternative seating

    I moved everything back to the tables a few weeks ago. My students had a very difficult time choosing an appropriate place to sit. They always wanted to sit by their friends, would chat the whole time, and then I would move them. I got sick of it.

    I would definitely keep working to find tables, if you can do it!
     
  9. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    May 5, 2014

    At my school, the desks in the grade 7 and 8 rooms don't have a storage compartment--I love them! That said, I'm actively campaigning for rectangular tables that seat 4 or 5 students each for next next year.
     
  10. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    May 5, 2014

    I absolutely HATE tables in my classroom:
    Moving seats is a nightmare, especially with the "I can't sit at the same table as so and so"
    Community supplies are not as "unclaimed" as you may think
    With my 5th graders, personal space becomes an issue.
    With a talkative bunch, tables are an invitation to talk about everything BUT the lesson.

    To manage the use of tables (since that is what we have), I have them treat their cubby as a "locker". I write what notebooks/folders they will need for the first block of time on the whiteboard, and they bring it to the table. All supplies are put in a gallon ziplock baggie that is kept on the floor or on top of notebooks. When we switch to the next block of time, we go to our "locker". This has worked well for me.
     
  11. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    May 5, 2014

  12. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dining tables....just seems like they'd take up a lot of space in your room, Jem and you'd lose a lot of flexibility..you come up with such curative hsolutions so I'm sure you'll come up with something that works!

    I organize desks into tables. Tsotchkes get sent home. If it doesn't ft in your desk, it goes home. If its distracting it goes home. Name tags and a water bottle on desks...not much else....just had this conversation with a colleague ths morning...about kids being hoarders:D...resulted in me rearranging seating in my room today and everyone moved to a new desk, which results in desk clean out and organization! Really found very little in terms of extra goodies.:blush:
     
  13. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    May 5, 2014

    Thanks for the feedback, all!

    The maintenance guy I'm working with on the tables found me a bunch in a random storage room, and it looks like a few might actually be available from the pre-school program, so that would solve my supply issue right there!

    I have wrapping paper with a grid line on the back, so I measured out a smaller scale of my room with it, and then measured out the table sizes so I could move them around. I'm playing with layout/sizes available.

    These posts have given me lots to think about. I haven't totally decided yet-still doing more thinking. I'll do before/after pictures for you guys if I decide to go for it! ;)
     
  14. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    May 5, 2014

    Yellowdaisies-thank you SO much for that link! Firstly, I discovered EdCamp SF Bay, which I didn't know about and am now registered for (you should come, too, if it isn't too far of a drive!!). Secondly, the pictures are really interesting. It has my brain turning. I love the idea of painting the tables with whiteboard paint....
     
  15. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    I've never heard of EdCamp before! Just looked it up - interesting!

    The whiteboard paint is my absolute FAVORITE idea. I also saw another blog awhile ago where the teacher got the shower board (I think?) stuff and made tables or topped tables (I can't remember) with that.

    The wrapping paper with the grid is a great idea!
     
  16. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    May 6, 2014

    I changed to tables in sixth grade my last few years there and LOVED it. The high school science classroom was getting new tables, so I snagged the old ones. They were big and heavy, but that also meant they didn’t get moved around a lot. They seated 2 students comfortably, and most of the time I had them in a U shape. I cleaned out 3 cupboards and each student had a shelf to keep their textbooks. On their desks, they each had a shower caddy that was divided in half, so they had space, but still shared. They were really nice for projects because we could push them together and make a big work space. And, my students ended up leaving for 2 class periods and 7th and 8th graders came in, so desks were not an option. Good luck with your decision!
     

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