Aviva’s At It Again

After school on Thursday, February 6th, I moved all of the desks to the outside of the classroom because of our Human Body activity on Friday. Since our plan was to turn the classroom into the human body, we thought that we’d need more space to work, and so we moved the furniture. When Friday came to an end, and we were in the midst of clean-up time, we decided to keep the desks along the outside of the room as students were building their organ systems on Monday. Again, we thought that more room would be helpful.

Yesterday, students loved having the additional floor space to cut, paint, and create, and those that wanted desks, just moved them where they wanted them. And so since some groups needed to finish their organ systems today, and other groups were going to start the art component of this activity, we again left the desks against the wall. Even as students read, researched, wrote, and did math today, they just moved the furniture, worked on the floor, or found a comfortable chair space, and they were great!

Our New Classroom Design

Our New Classroom Design

Talking to some students today, I began to wonder if maybe this new room design should be more than temporary. Don’t get me wrong. There are times that we need desks … but students can still have access to them, and move them where they want to work. 

  • This design allows for flexible groupings. Students can create groups based on different needs, and the teacher can do the same. 
  • This design allows for more quiet areas to work. Even though the students often collaborate in class, and love the opportunity to do so, they also like quiet places to work and to think. Since students are moving desks around to suit their needs, they’re also creating dividers within the room: blocking off noise, and making quiet alcoves for learning.
  • This design reduces distractions during teaching times. I have to admit that I’m not a fan of teaching students at their desks. There’s lots that can distract them at their desks: from the objects inside their desks to the people around them. I often get the students to move away from their desks during the lessons, which helps. Now the students don’t have desks to sit at during instructional time. They just move a chair into the middle of the room. It’s great! I have way closer proximity to the students, and they have fewer distractions: win/win!
  • This design benefits the caretakers. Since I made the change, the wonderful caretaker that cleans our room has been so happy. She said that this design makes it so much easier for her to clean the floor, and she even surprised me with a special floor washing job last night. The floors were sparkling! 🙂
  • This design still gives a permanent desk for those students that need it. I have a couple of students in my class with autism, and I was worried about changing the seating arrangements, as change can be difficult for them. I decided to keep their desks in the same spots, and then the other desks are just pushed to the outside of the classroom. This has worked perfectly! These two students have the consistent desk location that they need, while still being able to move and work with their peers during activity times.

So while it may sound strange, I’m going to talk to the class tomorrow about the possibility of keeping this new room arrangement. Since our school is focusing on student voice and student choice, I think that the students should have a say in this big decision. I wonder what they’ll say, and I wonder why they’ll make the decision that they do. Stay tuned! 🙂

What are your thoughts on this plan? How do you arrange your classroom to meet the varied needs of the learners? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!


8 thoughts on “Aviva’s At It Again

  1. I love this idea. I have my desks in small groups and I’ve always hated it. I hated rows too. I’m wondering where to put my book shelves in the event that I want to try this. The typical way to set up a classroom, along with the furniture provided, just does not make sense for what we do these days. I feel it would make more sense to have couches and bean bags all around the room. Kids also need lockers in elementary classrooms, so they can safely store their electronic devices and lock them up.

    • So glad you like the idea, Tommy! I’m curious to hear what my students have to say. I know that they’ve loved the flexible groupings these past three days, so I think that many will be eager to give this a try. We’ll see.

      As for my bookshelves, right now, they take up part of one of the walls. Students have just been moving desks to get to them, and I’ve been moving around books to give them easier access. I think that I would just rearrange the desks a bit to help with the bookshelf issue. This is still a work in progress. If you do try this though, let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear how you deal with the bookshelf problem. (And I must admit that we’re really fortunate, as all of our students have lockers too. That helps a lot!)


  2. I’m really fond of this idea, because my French classroom is modular in this way. I don’t have any desks (which is at times a disadvantage), only chairs and tables. So…..our default is a semi-circle in 2 rows of chairs, but we pull out tables as needed, as well as rearranging chairs for small groups. I love the flexibility, but I have one class in particular that would really like their desks. Interesting….looking forward to hearing what your students think.

    • Thanks for the comment, Lisa! I don’t have tables right now, but I do have bigger desks that the students currently share anyway. I know that they often move things around in the classroom to suit their needs, and this new set-up would just allow for that to happen more easily. I’m going to ask the students what they think, and we’ll go from there. I’ll keep you posted! I love hearing that you have a similar design, and that it seems to basically work well.


  3. Love it! Kids will have choice and ownership over work space. Probably will help develop responsibility and thinking about best environment to be successful…lead to seeing themselves as responsible for learning.

    • Thanks Liz! That’s my hope. I’ve been doing this more and more recently anyway, but with a little more scaffolding. Maybe this is the next logical step. I’m excited to hear student responses to the idea!


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