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Sitting KS2 children in rows - does it work?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by Twinkles, Aug 21, 2011.

  1. Twinkles

    Twinkles New commenter

    I'm moving to Y4/5/6 and have a very small classroom with very big furniture and the only way I seem to be able to fit the tables in is to have them in 3 rows of 8 children. Each table has a tray underneath, so each child will have pen, pencil, ruler, rubber, whiteboard etc which I hope will stop the random wandering around, arguing over who has the 'best' pencil/pen and so on but now I'm not sure how I will be able to work with a focus group and, whether it will work at all.
    Does anyone sit their children in rows like this or should I try to find another solution? Some of the children will be in the same classroom they were in last year and I'm keen for them to feel that it isn't the same room with a different teacher and bigger furniture but that they have moved up the school.
    Any advice would be gratefully received. Been teaching for several years but this is the first time out of my Early Years/KS1 comfort zone!
  2. I teach Year 5 at a middle school and usually start with rows at the beginning of the year. My class last year were a bit tricky, it settled them early on and showed them that they had moved up to "big" school. I generally change my seating around very frequently, though and have tried several different seating arrangements with my last group. Towards the end of the summer term, I went back to rows. They knew it happened because they were unsettled and not concentrating at that time and made them get a bit more of a grip of themselves, more ready to move up to Year 6.
    This year, I wanted to start with rows, but we are going to be doing a lot of project work in the first week. For this reason, I have put them into a square, which makes circle time a lot easier and means they can all face inwards, if needed. I'm not quite ready to put them on group tables in the first few weeks, since I've got several rather "chatty" children coming up. :)
  3. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Can you manage a horseshoe with a group in the middle for your focus group?

    If you have a whiteboard, pen, pencil, pen, etc in each desk, but ensure children know it is not THEIR desk then they should be able to move tables depending on who is working with you.

    Rows work in the sense they can all see you and the board. The front row can turn round to make groups of four easily enough (and so on through the class). However you will find it trick to have a focus group.
  4. Minnieminx's ideas sound pretty good.
    If you seat children in ability groups, you could make sure that these groups sit together.
    Alternatively just have the last tables on the end of each row and say which group you want to sit there and you sit at the end.
  5. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I too am a fan of the horseshoe with a focus group! Of you have the space of course.
  6. For my last two years in Y4 I sat the children in rows. My school still has traditional wooden desks in two of the classes so it did look slightly Victorian but the children liked it and so did I. They worked harder and all faced the front so I could always see what they were doing. I'm in Y1 now and the new Y4 teacher kept the rows. The Ed psych thought it was a good ideas too.
  7. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Just to be clear I am not a fan of horseshoes at all, though I know people who are and it works for them. There is less scope to split those who need splitting as they either sit near each other or opposite each other. However if space is very tight and you want a focus group then it might be better for you than rows.

    I would think about your lessons. How often do you actually have them working as a group, as opposed to just chatting on their table? If you almost never use group work then rows will be perfect. If you use group work several times a day then rows will drive you nuts.

    Also think what extra furniture you can get rid of from the classroom. Are there shelves and cupboards you can have outside in the corridor?
  8. I like rows and horseshoes but the only downside, in my opinion, is that books, pencils, dictionaries etc get knocked off easily. I tend to have groups of 3 tables which leaves plenty of space in the middle for pen pots and everything else. We use A4 books in most lessons and I find these a little large for rows and horseshoes (although it may be my bottom that's a little large and keeps knocking things off as I walk around!).
  9. I agree. I also find that the children tend to get up by pushing the table forward, rather than their chair back, so when I have rows I am forever having to move their tables back to where they started.
    I like rows, but now I teach younger juniors it isn't the 'done thing' and I get frowned at if I organise my classroom like this. Every now and again I still do though. I like the fact that they can all see the board without turning and I have also had good feedback from ed psychs etc about seating of children where they have good eye contact.
    My first classroom (mixed y5/6) was so small that all trays etc were outside the classroom in the open area, I had two group tables in the middle of the room for focus work and the rest of the children HAD to sit on tables that lined the edge of the room, so they only had wall to look at when they were not looking at their work. It was unorthodox and also raised a few odd looks, but it worked.
  10. Twinkles

    Twinkles New commenter

    Thanks for all the good comments and suggestions. I'm struggling to think about exactly how I'm going to teach this age group, to be honest, which is part of my problem.
    In Y1 and 2 I have always had children sitting at group tables - ability-based in Maths and Literacy and often mixed-ability for other subjects but have found that the children generally get on with their work without much discussion with others, unless they are sharing resources or have actually been asked to work with a partner, so I was thinking that older children might be even more inclined to work in this way, so having them on a table with others might just lead to chatting and messing around.
    I am planning for each child to have their tray under the desk with their pens, pencils etc in, so will not have pen pots on tables at all unless they need coloured pencils or felt pens for art or design.
    Going into school next week to have another look at my new room and see if I can move stuff around again......

  11. flickaz

    flickaz New commenter

    I have a square of tables with a focus group table in the middle so in a way the children are in rows. At the front of the room I have a "row" which is 2 tables next to each other (so room for 4 children) and I have the same at the back of the room. Down the sides of the room there is a "row" of 3 tables (so room for 6 children) and in the middle I have 2 tables to make a square for 4 children. Luckily I have a small class of 20 children this year and last year I only had 15 so I spread them around the outside of the room and pull the groups into the middle table as necessary

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