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Here are some ideas for how to mix up where your students sit. Maybe more importantly, it is a way to get your class thinking and cooperating to start the class. That is especially important to start science and engineering activities, and it helps in math class, as well. I spent a few minutes putting this together, so I thought I would share it.
I like to let my students choose their own seats, with the direction that they need to choose a seat where they, and their neighbors, can work effectively. Sometimes I will move individual kids or suggest to certain groups of students that they not sit side by side. Even when they sit such that they all get along and work well, the boys and girls do not always mix, and some of the boys and girls do not try new arrangements even among their gender.
Here are some ways that I have the students arrange themselves before taking their seats. Once they are in order, I have them take their seats front of the room to the back or some other order.
You will have to adapt this to your classroom set-up. We have a job chart with names on it. Students have lockers in the hallway connecting our “Great Room” with our library. We also have attendance cards that change in their arrangement when they are taken out and put back. In our homeroom, the students all have binders on a shelf for math, science, and humanities. They get put back haphazardly. You probably have several items in your room that have student names on them.
I suggest that you refrain from using student height. In my experience it doesn’t work as well and makes some students self-conscious.
One last note about the attendance cards - they are great for making groups and assigning seats. I often take them out, shuffle them, and deal out groups. Use your prerogative to make strategic changes, if you must. I find the students do not complain about the groupings when they are random. They may still comment, but they don’t address me with the same attitude as if I had assigned the groups.