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Tables vs Desks vs Open Areas
Old 06-15-2007, 03:15 PM
 
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I have a very small classroom and a large numer of students coming to me next year. I was wondering if I should give up my desks(too many and crowded) or move to tables. I have also seen some teachers that just have open areas with pillows and center areas only. I am afraid to change but also know it might be better for my students. How would they do math? Where would their books, notebooks, etc go? I find with desks, all they do is hide things in there, play, and cram as much in there as possible. Can anyone give me some suggestions? I have seen this question asked before but need some new ideas.Thanks.


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Desks for me
Old 06-15-2007, 04:00 PM
 
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I prefer desks because they can be arranged in a multitude of configurations. They can be grouped in different numbers of students per group, students can be all facing one direction, etc. I move my desks frequently--sometimes in a large U shape so that we are all a big "group", sometimes with a partner, etc.

I use Really Good Stuff desk trays for their desks (they put their books, folders in there and a plastic shoe box for school supplies). It helps keep their desks neater than if everything is shoved inside.
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Old 06-15-2007, 04:22 PM
 
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I would love to hear more about the teacher that has "open areas". I have also heard of teachers having tables in various areas (such as a math table, etc.) and during work time they pick a table to work at. I would love to know more about that as well. Anyone do either of these options?
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plastic shoeboxes
Old 06-15-2007, 05:40 PM
 
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What a wonderful idea! I can get them at Dollar Tree. I agree, it would keep their desks neater. Thanks for the idea.
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tables
Old 06-15-2007, 05:41 PM
 
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I have a large group of students coming in this year so I am switching to tables. Each student will have a pencil box with their name tag on it sitting at their spot and they will also have a chair pocket to hold their folder and math book. I'm hoping this is a good change. I'm also going to have a box of things each group will share in the middle of their group. I don't feel as if first graders need desks. They just write on the insides and play in them. I also feel like it's important that each student have their own space. I'd love to hear how open areas work.


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Supplies
Old 06-15-2007, 08:17 PM
 
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In my Kindergarten room I use plastic cutlery caddies to keep communal supplies on the desks. I found ones that had four compartments (two long ones at the front and the back and two smaller ones in the middle).
We keep coloured pencils in a small compartment, lead pencils on the other, glue sticks in the large one at the front, and scissors and alphabet strips in the back compartment. It is all very tidy and they are sturdy enough to not fall over and spill pencils everywhere.
I have also used those cleaning caddies that have handles in the middle. They are good also because all the supplies lay down in them, again meaning everything can't be knocked over. Buy a different colour for each desk and try to buy supplies such as pencil sharpeners in the same colour. You could also just number them to keep items in the right container.
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Old 06-16-2007, 03:23 AM
 
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Make sure the plastic shoe boxes will fit in the desks. I found 4 qt ones and they fit fine!
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Open Areas
Old 06-16-2007, 06:46 AM
 
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I have seen only one teacher have the open area classroom. This was at a Center of Inquiry School. The lesson plans were done day by day and were exclusively student based. The teacher had a large rug in the middle of her class and did all of her readings, calendar time, morning meetings and introduced all of her new concepts there. She had her class in groups for reading and for math. During literature times, after reading they went to whatever center they wanted...limited to three students and math time the higher level students worked on their own at the writing center, sitting on the floor, cubbies, etc and she had small group on the rug with whichever students needed extra help. I only visited for one day so I don't know how she started the year and how she introduced procedures, rules, etc. But she had a well run classroom. Maybe someone else out there has this kind of set-up and can explain better. Oh...they had cubbies to keep their supplies in and each center had supplies in them also.
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tables vs. desks
Old 06-16-2007, 06:18 PM
 
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I've been teaching first grade for 16 years and have tables for 15 of them. I love the tables for clean-up, maitenance and versatility. I have four large tables and can arrange them in a number of ways. My favorite and most effective for me is to have a large U shape. I can check on the kids quickly and easily during lessons by just walking in the middle of the U. Another bonus is that when the kids are gone I have large workspaces for sorting things (my messes) and for making graphs etc. My team also meets in my room because of the big tables. When choosing desks vs. tables, think of your teaching style and what works best.
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Old 06-16-2007, 08:01 PM
 
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I would like to see a drawing of your u shaped desk arrangement. I would like to do this too, I think. My desks however are the old well built ones. I saved them when they were demolishing our old elementary school. at that time, I was teaching a small "transitional" first grade and only had 12 students. I asked my principal if I would ever have a regular size first grade. She said no. The very next year, I had a regular first grade. I am so glad I saved those desks. The bottom metal part is painted red and the tops are light tan. I think that I would really like the U shaped arrangement, simply because of access to the students when they were working at their desks. Thanks.


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last year
Old 06-17-2007, 05:10 AM
 
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I team taught 1st and we had a total of 34 students in a classroom made for about 15. We had desks at first and had NO room at all. We fought to get tables - and when we finally put them up - it was heaven. The kids had a work area - and we had room to walk.

I'm teaching 1st again next year and not sure if I Will do tables or desks - I should only have about 17 next year.
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Old 06-17-2007, 06:39 AM
 
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My desks are actually flat little "tables"--chairs are separate. I don't have a picture of the u shaped arrangement. I place seven desks --side by side--across the back of the room and then around 6 down each side of the u. All desks are facing the front whiteboard and I can stand and instruct from this area. I use this arrangement when I want to demonstrate correct handwriting, sentence structure, use the whiteboard for math, etc. I like this at the beginning of the year when I want to teach them to look and listen when I am talking. If I have a few more kids I have put a couple of desks on each side at the front. I leave a walkway for me to walk around the middle of all the desks.

I'm teaching summer school so maybe I'll have a chance to move my desks this way and take a picture. I do have a couple of pictures of mine in teams.

I move desks frequently so the kids are used to that. The picture on the right is the view from the back corner of the classroom.
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Wow!
Old 06-17-2007, 07:10 AM
 
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Thanks for the pictures! That gives me some great ideas.
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classroom
Old 06-17-2007, 10:49 AM
 
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I love the pictures! It's great to get ideas from other rooms. Can I ask--what are the pocket charts used for on your front whiteboard? And also where do you have your word wall? I do most of my instruction on the rug--I like the set up of your room! Thanks!
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Pocket charts
Old 06-17-2007, 01:24 PM
 
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In my meeting area the pocket charts are for: days of the week, months of the year, calendar, vocabulary and spelling words. The four color pocket chart is for my four color groups. I can use it during my reading workshop. For example, red group can meet me for conferencing, blue group can look for an inference in their reading, etc. I can adapt it in many ways.

To the right side of the whiteboard I have a pocket chart for daily schedule and my focus wall. I place: Target Words, spelling words, writing workshop focus, reading workshop focus, author's study. etc. I use the erasable sentence strips for the focus wall and just change it weekly for the current focus.

My word wall is currently on the side wall on a dry erase board. I'm planning on moving it above the alphabet to the front of the room. I've been reading on here about different questions of word walls. I think I'll print them on various colors of cardstock and place them above the alphabet letters that are on the front whiteboard area.
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I loved having tables
Old 06-17-2007, 06:11 PM
 
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I have been in the same situation- small room with large numbers.

2 years ago, I had 4 rectangular tables for the kids. I could fit 8 around the tables for whole group work, but I needed extra tables around the room for extra space for bigger projects. Lets see, I put baskets in the middle for community supplies. I had baskets for each work folder: word wall words, chunk folder, and poetry binders. These baskets I kept around teh room in various spots.

Each child kept their communication log in their mailboxes, and that is where they stored their take home folders too, and any mail to take home.

Each child had their own reading bag with response journal. I asked for plastic bins this year from really good stuff to replace bags.

This year after much thought and consideration I siwtched to desks. I switched rooms, and they got rid of my rectangular tables. Plus the 28 students I had were really big for first grade, and they were too cramped. They gave me these small trapazoid tables. Which are great for small group work, but not great for projects, and quiet reading times.

So now I have desks again- YUCK.

Anyway, my vote is for TABLES!

I couldn't give away my desk (principal wouldn't allow). BUT I would if I could. So I shoved it in the corner, and put my bookshelf in front of it, and that gave me more space.

With tables it is easier for clean-up. Each child had a sepreate area they were in charge of, and at the end of teh day we had "Room Rescue".
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Old 06-18-2007, 05:45 AM
 
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Thanks that is great! I'm thinking about changing my word wall as well. I have the purchased one and I do like the idea of doing different colors. Although not sure if I will have the time for it this year. We'll see. Thanks.
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Which desk trays?
Old 06-19-2007, 01:30 PM
 
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I am interested in the desk trays from Really Good Stuff that were mentioned. I went on the website but can't find them. Any info would be appreciated.

Thanks!
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I worked at a school where we
Old 06-26-2007, 06:56 PM
 
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were encouraged to do all lessons from the carpet. We did all mini-lessons, new material, etc. from our rug. After the lesson the students went back to their tables and I circulated around the room. I only taught two lessons standing in front of the class all year.

The biggest stressor is having stuff in the center of the table. I did not have seat sacks. If I had I think I would have been much happier.

We started off our year using "The Morning Meeting Book" and "The First Six Weeks of School."
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Utilizing the Floor!
Old 06-20-2009, 08:12 AM
 
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I was just moved inot a small pod area from my traditional classroom. I teach 5th grade and am thinking that I would like to have their desks in groups around the perimiter of the room and then teach from a floor carpeted area....I was glad to see that you really liked doing this. I am wondering how 5th grade will like it. In the past they moan about sitting on the floor...Do you have them take clip boards or anything for some lessons?
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