sticking with you, Suzanne
You know the saying, "Necessity is the mother of invention"? Yeah, I'm there. I don't know about you, but I've been getting more blank stares and zombie students (you know...the ones that just sit there even though you've already given them specific instructions, an example to follow, and their seven minutes are slipping away) than usual. Because of the testing crunch, I'm quick to feel that this is some cruel personal attack. Whatever it is, it's got to go!
So I decided to change the feng shui of my classroom to create more accountability. The mere thought of long rows bored me to tears. I wanted an arrangement that all but eliminated the back of the room and allowed me to get to any students quickly. So necessity bore this...
When Lori and I co-taught together, we had an especially difficult, chatty class. We didn't need to use all the groups of desks, so we left the center group open in an effort to minimize neighboring group socializing. We joked that the unused group would be used as a "life raft"- a place to send students who needed a little personal attention. This joke actually turned out to be an excellent resource. We like the physical response- pick up your paper and pencil, walk to a new spot away from your group members, receive the individualized instruction or extra time you need to get back on track, return back to your group. So I recreated the life raft in my new arrangement. No students are assigned to sit there. The first day that students walked in to this new set up, I talked about how everyone would likely be invited at some point to sit with me at the center group. I wanted them to see it as a normal thing- not an "I'm in trouble" thing.
I also went non-traditional with my seating arrangement. Students were given a slip of paper with two classmates names on it to be glued into their notebooks. We call them our Peanut Butter and Jelly Partners. I know that their Peanut Butter Partner is their writing partner. I followed the same Data Queen routine to come up with this partnership. Our class typically follows a Write-Write-Read order of class periods. So on writing days, I have a Power Point slide up that asks students to sit with their Peanut Butter Partners. On reading days, they sit with their Jelly Partner.
This is what a partnership would look like for Lucky Student...
On writing days, Lucky would be paired with Lori. On reading days, Lucky would be mine all mine. I love the novelty of this arrangement. I love that student pairs respond to the skills we are targeting that day. AND this is the first time I have EVER not had a student gripe about their assigned seat! That is one sweet situation to find yourself in!!
You can download our PB and J partner template for free here.