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Get the desks right or lose the class

Date: August 1st, 2013
By: Polly Bath

Watch this video [1:46] to see how getting those desks right spells success or failure.

You may have the greatest lesson plan in the world, but as soon as you say “Break up into groups,” it’s like a grenade goes off. It’s a mess. The kids know the lesson, but they don’t have the social skills, so the way I go about teaching the lesson backfires.

We often undermine our own efforts by assuming that kids have group skills. If I take fourth and fifth graders and put them in desks and those desks are facing each other in little groups, what are they going to do? They’re going to talk, because they’re facing each other!

If I want them to face me and I’m going to be in one spot, I say “Everybody move your desks into rows.” Then they move their desks into rows, and I teach from here. Then I say, “OK, now you can have your discussion and seat work. Go ahead and turn your desks back into groups.”

Two things get remedied. First, I teach them in what environment they need to pay attention to me. Second, I’ve given them that movement break they all need so desperately.
Click on my video above for more.