August 29

Seating Arrangements

As a highly organised person, nothing refreshes me more than reorganising my desks and my classroom layout. In my first year or two of teaching I used to change it each term. After a while I found classroom designs that work, that suit the ergonomics of the classroom and the needs of the students. Rows, U shapes, Groups, Pods, Single desks, each layout type has its pros and cons.

I’ve always been a ‘groups’ fan, and rarely utilise rows and single desks, mainly because it eats up the floor space. I love having huge areas of space for kids to move around and stretch out on the floor to work. I’ve found groups work very will younger students, but as older kids have more equipment and longer limbs, tables in groups can lead to problems.

This year I have an all boys class, and I finally have implemented a seating plan that I’ve been interested in for some time. The tables are set up around the perimeter of the room, facing the wall. There a few pods of seats that pop out in a group, but the rest are against the wall. This layout allows me to have ample floor space for boys to use, and it means we don’t have to move furniture each time we want to work in a circle, or do some dancing etc.

As well as this, no desk  is owned by a student, they can choose where they work each day, even during the day. It helps that I have more desks than students too. Some prefer working on the floor with a mat, I allow that too. They can work near doors and windows, in groups, alone in corners, the opportunities are endless. It also means no one is annoying each other by kicking under the desk, and I can walk around the room, peer over everyone’s shoulder and see what they are doing.

When I have maths groups with a co-ed group I use the same layout and it works perfectly.  I think I will use this layout for all senior classes in the future!

August 7

Andy Griffiths rocks for older students

One of the best authors to read to older students (especially boys) is Andy Griffiths. I was introduced to his ‘Just’ Series way back in 1998 by a librarian I met on one of my prac teaching placements.

The series has become a firm favourite in my school library, was a secret weapon when casual teaching in London and guarantees whole class focus when I open one and start reading. Andy Griffiths writing style is extremely humorous, with enough quirky situations and toilet humour to engage reluctant readers. Just Stupid, Just Annoying and Just Tricking would have to be my favourites; stories of food fights in fancy restaurants, sealing up the shower cubicle to make a bath and swinging on the clothes line in the middle of the night.

His other books are equally as entertaining, including the ‘bum’ series, the ‘bad’ books and the ‘schooling around’ series. I had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Andy Griffiths speak at a children’s literature festival, and he explained how he would take a simple idea, such as being locked out of the house, and expanding it with a lot of what ifs… (that keep getting sillier and sillier) What if I was in my undies?  What if the girl I liked came past?  What if I fell in the mud?  What if dad got locked outside with me too?  In the mud? In his undies?   You get the picture.

If you are looking for something to entertain a class, or encourage a reluctant older reader, get yourself a copy of one of Andy Griffiths books.