Friday, October 3, 2014

Group Seating

I tend to do a lot of partner and group activities in my teaching.  Over the summer, it occurred to me that my seating arrangement - one I've been using for years - want actually conducive for all this group work.  I had rows that were okay for partner work but that group work a nightmare... I was constantly having to come around and let kids know what their groups were.

So I rearranged my layout from several rows to eight tables.  Each group can seat 3-5 students (of class size allows it, I try to do 4 person groups).  At first I thought it would take up too much room, but I think there's actually a better flow now:

Let me just say that group work is SO much easier now!  They know who's in their group, and at most I'll have to move one or two students to even things out.  Dividing the class in half for team games is also super easy... there's an obvious division between left vs right side of the room.  It's even easier to find partners - I just tell them to work the person who's sitting in front of or next to them.  Not to mention making group copies is easier.  I don't need to guess how many groups I'm going to make in a class since I already know how many tables are occupied.

Because we're also doing interactive notebooks this year, I provided each group with a box.  The boxes stay at their tables - this has saved a lot of time and makes clean up easier.  Each box includes markers (one of each color), glue, scissors and a highlighter.  I don't have to waste time explaining to students where the materials are or passing them out/recollecting them - everything they need on a regular basis is right in front of them!

I also numbered each group.  This year I've started doing in class group practice for grammar and some other skills.  Students complete a worksheet as a group... and when they turn it in, all they need to do is put their group number!  Group numbers are on their supply boxes, making it easy for students to remember.  

These signs are also handy for when groups need to write on the board.  I can just put their corresponding number on their space on the board, and students will know exactly where to write.  I can even use these to randomly call on groups to answer questions or assign sections of a reading.  

So far I really like the new layout.  It's made things so much easier for me, and I think it's been helpful for students.  There was a bit of an adjustment for students who had me last year - I keep telling them that I put them in groups for a reason, they can work together!  Definitely would recommend a similar layout if you like group activities and games :)

- Frau Leonard


  1. I love this idea! I feel like we spend time daily making groups, and I let them choose too often because it seems easier, which leads to some unproductive groupings. How long do you keep them in their set groups? How do you decide how to group them?

    1. I change seating charts periodically, depending on how the groups are working together and sometimes just for fun. Usually about every month or so I change it up.

      I try to group them so that there are mixed ability levels in each group. For example, with my combined German 3/4 class, I have it so there is one AP student per table. I'm really too much of a control freak to let the kids pick their own seats (and some of them would just pick terrible groups...), so I try to keep them balanced.

  2. Also- did you post previously about your interactive notebooks? (I'm a second year German teacher in PA - I adore your blog)

    1. Nope :) I only started doing interactive notebooks this year. I do plan on writing about it, but I wanted to get more info about how it's going so I'm going to wait until the end of first quarter.

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