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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tried It Tuesday {Student Groups and Supplies}

This is how I started Tried It Tuesday last week:  As I am writing this week's Tried It Tuesday on Monday night, my voice is just about gone after fighting this cold and a day of teaching.  I wonder what tomorrow will bring!  Update:  My voice is STILL not back to normal.  This is a huge bummer when I am in the car alone and want to sing along to my favorite songs and it comes out as a squeak! Haha!!  I think I am definitely on the upswing though and didn't have to get an antibiotic.  Let's hope I'm right! :)
We had off for Columbus Day today (yay!) so I sat down at 9:30 tonight and realized that I forgot about Tried It Tuesday!  Oops...
My Tried It:
Student Groups and Supplies
I didn't have my Tried It planned ahead but, when I started thinking about what I have "tried", what came to mind immediately was how I have tried arranging my students' desks in groups of four or five this year.  Since we are departmentalized this year, each of my three ELA blocks sit in groups.  I have used this seating arrangement before, but not very often.   I think I got in a funk with the "U" arrangement (with some desks in pairs or trios in the middle) and I also used pairs and trios of desks in recent years more often.  The SMART board is used daily in my classroom and I was worried that some students would have their back to the board.  My solution was to arrange the room like with the desks in the front angled slightly.
We have been in school for five or six weeks now (who's counting?) and I am absolutely LOVING this arrangement!  So far, no one (out of all three classes) has complained about not being able to see the SMART board.  Students always have a partner to share with when we are at our desks.  If there is someone absent in a group of four, the group easily becomes a group of three!  The students do not talk anymore than they would have in another arrangement.  Of course there are behaviors that I have had to correct but the students would have probably tried to exhibit those behaviors no matter how I arranged the desks! :)

Here are some students working in groups and showing off their new pen pal letters! :)  We are pen pals with Gary from Scrappy Guy Designs and Jivey from Ideas by Jivey!
Only my homeroom (Block 1) actually has supplies in their desks, so I started using a basket for each group with bottle of glue, scissors, and post-its to use when working on our interactive journals.  I have noticed that so many teachers use communal supplies and I am not ready to go there yet (I would want my team to be on board and let parents know in the school supply list sent home over the summer) BUT I love having a group basket for the glue, scissors, and post its.  Students keep highlighters, pencils, and other handy tools in their personal pencil slider cases (thank you Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching!).  These are kept in their individual book boxes.
You can see a student's slider case on their desk in the picture below.

See the red arrow in the picture above?  Those are currently my supply baskets that I took from my "extra baskets" in storage.  They are not working very well because the scissors stick out of the holes sometimes and the glue bottles don't stand up.  This can be a problem when students don't follow directions and close the bottle properly.  I FINALLY ordered some new baskets this weekend from amazon.  It only took me five weeks!  Ugh.  I hope the glue bottles stand up well!
Sorry that this is not a very enlightening post but maybe it can help another teacher who is struggling with a new seating arrangement or using group supplies! :)


  1. My kiddos are at tables, so it makes grouping really easy...although a few of them do miss the personal space of a desk. I need to use group supplies...I just haven't gotten around to making the bins for it.

  2. My kiddos are at tables also, like Bethany! We work in groups for EVERYTHING. The only time my kids are apart is if we are testing, or during silent reading. I could never, ever, ever go back to desks. They scare me. There are monsters hiding inside them. The kids don't mind sharing supplies and are never really at the same table for very long as it is. They are constantly moving all around the room.
    Since a few "big kids" classes decided to do tables, several people want to do it also....only problem, there aren't enough tables at our school. I'm so glad your kids are enjoying table groups and their new supply buckets! Happy Tuesday, my sweet buddy!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  3. I group my desks like you do. It makes it so easy to group the kids. I also struggle with supply management. Since I see three different classes through the day, there are contant trips to lockers or students who just don't have certain supplies. I tried communal last year, but since they weren't "their" supplies, they didn't take very good care of them. I have those baskets, too, but I haven't found an ideal way to handle supplies. Maybe if my Donors Choose for interactive notebook supplies gets funded, I'll be able to figure out what I want to do!


  4. Your room is cute. How fun that you are pen pals with two other fabulous bloggers!

    The Balanced Classroom

  5. Thanks for the shout out Holly! I LOVE groups too! I've always used groups and can't imagine teaching without them. I know some teachers start in rows at the beginning of the year, but I just start the "group" training from day one so they don't know any differently! I hate testing time when we have to put them in rows-plus, it takes up so much room! I love hearing them help each other and their discussions when I have them work cooperatively! Your room looks so neat and organized-love it!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  6. Hello fellow NY blogger! I'm so glad to be linking up with you this week for Tried it Tuesday. I spent an hour reading a bunch of your old posts and ideas....AWESOME! I agree with organizing your kids in groups. They usually don't socialize any more than having them in pairs, and it is much easier when doing group tasks. Classroom supplies are a real bugger to keep neat, clean, replenished and organized- Definitely something I struggle with every year!

    Kate's Classroom Cafe


  7. I just switched my students into groups this week too! Great minds think alike :)

    Joy in the Journey

  8. I use groups all year - we change groups on the first of the month - this year I have groups of 4 or 5 depending on who needs to be near or away from who : )
    Thanks for the reminder about the slide cases - I saw those on Joanne's blog this summer and forgot that I wanted to try them!
    I tried to write a post but reports and planning got the best of me : (

  9. Hi! I found you over at TBA. I wanted to let you know I am having a giveaway on my blog. Come and see!

    Keep Calm and Apple On