This week saw the return to school after a week off for half-term. It also meant that the Year 7s were now put into ability groups rather than their previous form groups. As such, I had 31 students, of which the majority were new to me. So, in order to help me get to know the students before I produce a seating plan for them I decided to experiment with where the students sat.
My reasons for doing this are as follows:
It would give me an idea of who does/doesn't work well together.
I could mix up the form groups to get students to meet their new classmates
I could try and learn their names before putting them into an official seating plan and relying on this to tell me who was who.
So, how I sat the students for their 1st 2 lessons this week was as follows...randomly! At the start of each of the 2 lessons I gave each student on entering a question. The 1st lesson's questions were all calculations that the students had to use BIDMAS to answer. The second lesson's questions were all based around square numbers, square roots and basic cube numbers. The answers to the students questions were all the numbers between 1 and 31. These then corresponded to the numbers on the desks around the room (also 1-31). The idea was that the students came in, answered the question to find out where to sit, sit down at that seat, get their equipment out and then answer the questions on their desk. The questions on their desk were the same 31 questions given to students on entering the classroom - so they already knew one of the answers (the one they used to find their seat).
What I liked about this strategy was that it allowed me to meet and greet the students at the door, they had a simple instruction to follow in order to find their seat, there were no complaints about where they were sat as it was all random, some students were able to clarify their answer based on if someone else was already sat in the seat they thought their answer was, my TA could help students with their answers, there was a quick start to the lesson, I was able to get the next part of the lessons ready as they sat down, the w/sheet was already for them to get on with - meaning no time was wasted waiting for me to tell them what to do.
In addition to my instructions I also had a slide on the IWB with a 'welcome' message to the class and the instructions I had given them, just to reiterate what it was they were to do. In both the 2 lessons that I used the strategy the students really engaged in the idea (as did my TA). The only problem that I may have had to deal with is the students not knowing how to answer their questions, luckily I pitched these appropriately for my 2nd set and so there were only a few questions - this also gave me an idea of who to look out for in the lesson!
Here's a picture of my classroom all set up prior to the 1st lesson with the class...
(you can see the numbers on desk, w/sheet on desks, LO on the board and 'welcome' message on the IWB)
I later tried the same technique to get my Year 10 class into groups for their 1st group work lesson of the year (see upcoming post).