Earlier this month, I decided to change the seating arrangement in my classroom. I used to have the desks in a U formation to allow the students to communicate with others better. However, even that arrangement didn't quite suit me and I realized it wasn't necessarily the U formation, it was the desks that were in the way. The only time students need a desk is when they are writing, and my goal is to have stories and interaction in my classroom, not worksheets as I used to in my old school way of teaching.
One day, in the middle of class when the students were standing for an activity in which they were retelling a story to each other, I asked them to move all the desks to the perimeter of the room. Later, I moved the desks to the more organized positions above...but when the students come into class, it usually looks like the 2nd photo. When they need to draw or write something, they move to the desks or use a clipboard. When I want to show a video clip or use the interactive projector, only a few students need to move to the side.
The new circle arrangement encourages verbal communication. One thing I really like about it is that many times I also sit in a chair in the circle and during activities and discussions, I either switch chairs with other students or move my chair to sit beside different students throughout the activity. I feel like I'm communicating with my students now instead of "just teaching". :)
I believe I saw a similar arrangement (no desks but the chairs were in a circle) in a photo on Michele Whaley's blog several months ago and now that I'm using the arrangement, I'm wondering why I waited so long to adopt it!
What seating arrangement works best in your classroom?