Desks to Tables
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?
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!!!
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.
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!!
Students then pulled their desks out into the hall, group by group, until we had a completely empty room.
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!
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.
* 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.
* 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.
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?