If you aren't a teacher, you are probably going to roll your eyes at this post. But...I love my u-shaped desk formation. Its so nice. I can see everybody easily, they can see me. There's not too many distractions...and everyone is focused on the board and me.
However, after school today I took a huge step outside my comfort zone to put my kids in groups of 4. I went to my math coach yesterday looking for help with what to do with my advanced kids. She advised me to try groups. I can see so many advantages. For example, I can put a math game in the center of the desks, and when they are finished, they can start playing the game together. Or, I can get the others started on a lesson, and then go back to the advanced group and teach another lesson. Hard to do that in a u-shape. They can also help each other a lot easier.
They can also talk a lot more, which drives me crazy! I tried this last year and it only lasted for a week because they were so chatty. Sitting there in that little group just seems to make them think its time to talk.
Anyway, I'm trying it, starting tomorrow. I even gave a little mini-lesson today on how to turn your chair when I am talking. And how to "ask 3 before me" when working on classwork.
I even went to Wal-Mart today and bought little Tupperware containers, flat aquarium marbles, and candy. Each group is going to earn marbles when they are doing what they should be doing, and at the end of the day, the group with the most marbles gets a piece of candy. Candy is mighty powerful with 2nd graders, my friends.
Here is a picture of the glorious u-shape comfort zone that is no more (I know its not exactly a u, but its close!)