Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Back To School- # 2

When I design my room layout, I think about traffic patterns into the room, a good place to line up to leave the room, students being able to work together for cooperative learning activities, having room to have reading and math centers and having floor space if we want to gather around to hear a story.  I like to put my desks in pods of 4.  At each group of tables, I group students by ability.  If you are looking down at the pod of desks, it looks like this: 
This idea of seating came from this book:  It's full of ideas on how to get kids up, moving and sharing! 

Now, the seating chart above is how I arrange my desks.  You have a medium high beside a low student because a medium high is usually more patient in helping a lower student than a high student is.  The medium low student is beside the high student.  The medium or medium low student doesn't need as much help as the low student so the high student usually does well helping the medium low or medium student.  The students beside each other are called shoulder buddies.  Sometimes when we are solving math problems, etc, I'll tell the class to work with their shoulder buddy.  If I want LIKE abilities, I'll tell the class to work with their face buddies.  If I need to form groups to work on something, I'll call A's to meet in one place and B's to work in another.  If I need to have kids of the SAME ability to work together, I would call 1's to meet together, 2's, 3's and 4's because these would be the same ability levels.  The students are NOT aware of the ability part.  I love this arrangement.  It pairs students to work based on what I need accomplished at the time.  The uses of this arrangement are endless!  If you don't have this book, it is worth the investment.  What I discovered is that when I kept students moving and kept students working, there were very few behavior or management issues to deal with.  
To put your students in order, choose some type of grade or test score.  I used each student's DIBELS Oral Reading Fluency score.  List these scores from highest to lowest.  Now, count down the first five students and draw a line.  Those are your top five students.  Count up the last five from the bottom.  Those are your lowest five.  Now count down the next five from the top.  These are your medium high kids.  The next five from the bottom are your medium low students.  This gets us to 20.  You can put the left over students either in the medium high or medium low category.  If you need to add a fifth desk to the pods, put it on the end between the high and medium high.   Check out the book for a more thorough explanation. 
There are a lot of other cooperative learning activities in book as well.  I'll highlight more in another post.  For now, consider arranging your students in this kind of pod.  You'll be glad you did!  Let me know your thoughts!


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