Friday, August 21, 2015

FREE from Desks!

As I prepared my room for this school year there was one major difference from other years; there are no student desks in my room.  I've been teaching without student desks since January 2012, with the exception of when I shared my room with a new teacher, but the desks were still in the room, either stacked against the walls or grouped in pods in the back and sides of the room. This year I don't have to work around the student desks. They're gone!

The district office administrators and the high school principals have been in my room many times and they are accustomed to seeing the students without desks. Early last spring when I told one of the assistant superintendent that I'd prefer not to have desks in my room, he replied that due to computer labs being converted to regular classrooms, the district would soon purchase desks for those rooms.  Not necessary - my desks could be moved into those rooms. They also moved my chairs with the desks and bought new chairs for my classroom.  The general consensus from everyone that has tried them thus far is that they are more comfortable that the previous chairs.
Table for student Story and Quiz Writers
(I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but it's worth repeating...I am thankful and appreciate that I work at a school where the administration supports the world language department!)

My biggest class this semester is 28 students (30 next semester) so I made two long rows of chairs. I have three tables in my room for student use.  The table in the front (next to the balloon bulletin board), is for my student story writer and quiz writer.  The story writer will write details about the class story and the quiz writer will write true/false questions for a possible quiz.  Since their job involves writing, I thought they would appreciate using the table instead of a clip board. 

For my Spanish 4 and Spanish 5 classes that are somewhat smaller than 30 students (they're smaller this semester but next semester the numbers soar to the size of the lower levels) we will simply turn the front chairs around to face the back of the room and form a circle. I have found that almost without exception, those students prefer to sit in a circle which helps set a good tone for conversation and sharing what is happening in our lives and in the news.   

Two tables are in the back of the room, which is where students will put their backpacks during class. Backpacks on the floor increase the chance of tripping and they can also be distractions.  

I want students to form the habit of entering the room, taking out a pen or pencil, their Cuentos folder, and their composition book, and leave their backpack on the table.  They'll grab a clipboard from the crate and move to their seat.  

On days when students are illustrating stories on large butcher paper or some other type of occasional project that requires creative writing space, they can move the backpacks to the back counter and floor and use the tables for a workspace.

I'm not brave enough to remove my desk from the room.  I don't use the desk during class, but during my planning period and after school, that is where I read compositions, grade, and make parent contacts because it is next to the phone.

Today, I bought the swivel stool pictured on the left (a solid cherry stool, it was a real steal bought at a Furniture Store's tent clearance sale) which I'll take into school on Monday.  I've had my eye on my colleague's, @KristaApplegate, stool for years, and, finally, I have one for my room.  

The most important part of my room is still missing - the students!  That will change on Monday.  :-)


  1. In love with your classroom! Good luck!

  2. Very cool!!! How do you handle testing?

    1. I have a class set of clipboards that students use when they need to write for class or for assessments. I have changed my opinion on testing - Why give a long test when I can learn how well the students are progressing with something that is much shorter? Assessments that take more than 20 minutes are rare in my classes.
      For the class final, however, I will ask the administration if we can move to an empty classroom during that period.

  3. Do you have a sample lesson plan so that I can see what a week or day looks like in your class

  4. A reader had asked for a sample lesson to understand what an average day in my classroom looks like. Actually, every day is different and my plans depend on whether we are creating a story together, reviewing a story from a previous lesson, reading a novel together, and many other factors. In general, most days include SSR, reading - either a story that we created together or one that uses the same structures that was from a class in previous years, personal questions and answers (PQA), discussion of current events in school or elsewhere, and some short form of me writing and/or students writing to add what I have written on the board or to simply copy the story from the board as we write it together.