Sunday, March 9, 2014

Working the kinks out- creating structure

We are in the third quarter of the year, and I consider this year a huge success.  But it did take some creative problem solving to get things to run smoothly.

It's funny because I remember the first week of school so vividly.  It went down like this:

Day 1: "Oh they are going to love this!"
Day 2: "They really feel special being the only ones that don't have to sit at desks!"
Day 3: "I am never going back to desks again!"
Day 4: "OH NO! WHAT HAVE I DONE!?!?"

I laugh as I think about it now, but at the moment I had a mini heart attack!  How are they going to take a spelling test?  What about whole group lessons?  What about BENCHMARK TESTING?!?

Luckily, I am an out of the box thinker by nature.  By the second week of school I had created enough structure to take care of my two biggest concerns.

The first thing I did was give everyone an assigned spot for whole group learning (where they are following along with their own paper).  I needed to have some kids at the tables, and some kids on the floor with lap boards.  I assigned the spots, and then I decided to give this seating structure a name.  Don't ask me how I came up with it, but it is called "Operation Crocodile".

Yup.  The kids love it.

The next thing that I did was create another seating structure for formal testing.  This was basically just a very spread out version of "Operation Crocodile" with dividers (to discourage cheating).  This one's name is a little less cool.  It's just "Testing Position".

During reading and math the kids sit in Operation Crocodile.  But during Daily 5 and Writer's Workshop, they get to choose their own spot.  Before I could let them run free with the seating choices I had to give them the rules of choosing their own spot.  Here are my rules:

I STILL have kids that try to sit next to their friends.  But they move away as soon as I remind them of the rules.  Most of the kids really like sitting alone.  Away from the distractions.

Here they made little rooms for themselves in the library.

Another challenge that popped up was where are they going to put their stuff if they don't have a desk?  Luckily I anticipated this challenge and was ready before school began.  I went to the Dollar Tree and got four of these little baskets.  They keep their pencil boxes in these, and get them out when they are going to use crayons or pencils. 

Here you can see their textbooks as well as some community supplies.  As for unfinished work, I have a couple magazine holders that hold a folder for each one of them.  They can put papers that they are working on, and packets that we are not finished in them.  I just stick these on the two tall tables.

In my next post, I am going to talk about my results and reflections looking back at the year, but for now, let me give you a hint on how I feel about it... In my opinion, DESKS ARE DEAD! :)

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