Desks to Tables

Jun 19, 2014 by

Desks to Tables
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What comes to your mind when you think of your students’ desks? Are they beacons of organization-a place where students can instantly find what they need for their activity? Or are they trash receptacles-containers of junk that provide a place for them to squirrel away toys and leftover lunch food?

Classroom DIY: Whiteboard Tables -SproutClassrooms.com

We counted 21 books on this student’s desk. 21. books. on. this. desk.

Probably somewhere in between, I would guess. After 8 months of policing the desk activities in my room, I decided to get rid of them completely. Buh-bye, desks!!!

Classroom DIY: Whiteboard Tables -SproutClassrooms.com

I spent about 2 weeks hunting in all the furniture storage rooms in the district (not many, as we only have 4 schools total) and found enough long tables for my kiddos to sit at. I measured the room, and then measured all the tables. I used the backside of some wrapping paper that had a grid on it, making each square 5 inches in the classroom/5 inches of table. I then cut out proportional tables using the same grid paper and laid them out so I could make sure they would fit.

Desks to Tables -SproutClassrooms.com

Once I knew how I want to lay out my tables, I asked the maintenance crew to bring them over. I had all my students clean out their desks. Textbooks/notebooks/workbooks were placed into piles by book type. All supplies in desks were either put in backpacks to go home, or donated to community supplies. Students were allowed to keep ONE free-reading book, which would be put under their chair once they had their new seating placement. Nothing else was kept. We were going CLUTTER FREE!!

Classroom DIY: Whiteboard Tables -SproutClassrooms.com

Community supplies

Students then pulled their desks out into the hall, group by group, until we had a completely empty room.

Classroom DIY: Whiteboard Tables -SproutClassrooms.com

Once the room was clear, it was time to bring in the tables! I had my ‘map’ ready, telling me which sized tables went were. I directed each group to their table out in the hall, and told them where to place it in the room. Huzzah for teamwork!

Desks to Tables -SproutClassrooms.com

OMG, people. Look at those clear desktops! Look at those un-cluttered chair bottoms! My heart sings with happiness everytime I walk in our room now!

Logistics of an upper-elementary room with tables:
* Students are allowed ONE free reading book and their homework folder under their chair, as well as ONE pencil on their table. That is all.
* All textbooks, workbooks and notebooks are stored on community bookshelves, such as those pictured below.

Desks to Tables -SproutClassrooms.com

* Each table is given a color (more on that tomorrow), such as red/blue/green/teal/white. Next year, the binding of each workbook/notebook will be labeled with a strip of washi tape in the team colors. When we need a book, one person from each group will go grab their team colors off the shelf and pass them out to their team members. Textbooks won’t be assigned to particular students.

Desks to Tables -SproutClassrooms.com

* All supplies are now community supplies. When we are doing an activity that needs markers, I will set the marker bin out and students can use what they need. All supplies need to be put away after the activity is done, ensuring the neatness of the room at the end of the day.

 

Desks to Tables -SproutClassrooms.com

But I didn’t stop there! Check in tomorrow to see how I took these brown desks and turned them into whiteboard tables for less than $10 a table!

Do you have desks or tables? What strategies do you use to ‘tame’ whatever seating arrangement you use?

-Kat

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8 Comments

  1. Beth Moore

    I am doing this over the summer! I would love any and all information about this topic!

    • katieuppman

      You’ve got it, Beth! Check back tomorrow-I have a post ready on how I turned the brown tables into whiteboard tables! 😉

      -Kat

  2. Barb Cadel

    Looking forward to seeing more; I’ll be moving to tables next year; I’m so excited about it!

  3. Marie

    I have desks for my little 2nd graders, and I’ve always given them individual pencil boxes, but I’m thinking about having more community supplies. My kids become crayon hoarders until they can’t even close them! I’ve used the lids of copy boxes as desk drawers, forgot about it this year though and had a few kids that would literally have everything fall out of their desk onto the floor and then they’re surprised when 10 books are buried at the back of their desk! ah little ones….

    • katieuppman

      I did community supplies when I taught in Michigan and it was great. I can’t remember my reasoning for not doing it this year-I think I didn’t have the money in August to buy class sets of everything and didn’t feel comfortable asking parents to ‘donate’ the supplies they had bought their children to a classroom basket. But going into next year, I asked our secretary to put a * on the supply list stating that my room does community supplies with the implied intent that all supplies sent in will be combined into one big ‘pot’. The idea of having enough scissors and glue sticks for everyone makes me giddy! 😉 And, of course, there’s good old Dollar Tree if I have to fill in a few holes. I think limiting the books is also key. We have thousands of books in our classroom library, but they are allowed to get up at just about any time for a new one, so hoarding them doesn’t make much sense.

  4. I just wanted to know, what kind of erasers do you use for your tables? I can’t seem to find the right one.

  5. Rachel

    I wanted to know how can I do this with small individual desks? How would I connect everything together?

    • katieuppman

      Depending on the single desk style, you probably could! Our single desks have a slide-in area under the desktop-they are connected to the desktop with screws. I want a few single desks in my room for kiddos that need to work on their own, so I’m thinking of taking a screwdriver and unscrewing the storage area from the desktop this summer. That would give me a solid desktop with no storage area. If your desks are like this, you could simply move them next to each other in a table-like arrangement.

      My goal with this project was to get rid of the storage areas-students hoard supplies, books, paper and junk in their desks. I wanted the distractions GONE! 😉 If you could remove the storage area from your desks, you’d be doing well!

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