Cooperative Seating Arrangements

Classroom Management -

Cooperative Seating Arrangements

seating-arrangementSeating arrangements are such a challenge.  There are many things to consider but most of all wall hangings – the location of whiteboards, cork boards and windows -- trump all other factors. 

However, if possible I found putting students into groups of four works best for cooperative group activities, mixing up the class, and the class economy.   Seating arrangements are such a challenge.  There are many things to consider but most of all wall hangings – the location of whiteboards, cork boards and windows trump all other factors.  However, if possible I found putting students into groups of 4 works the best for group cooperative activities, mixing up the class, and the class economy.   

I found putting students into groups of 4 works the best for group cooperative activities, mixing up the class, and the class economy.    I tried to do the Kagan version of moving the desks in and out of groups when I taught middle school.  When I taught elementary school a few years later, I did not try the switching, but it would have worked better because we had more time and could have re-arranged desks before one class a day instead of each class period. I just organized my students into groups of four like the seating chart shows, BUT instead of having all the desks face the center, two would face each other and the other two would be next to each other facing the board.  That worked very well because no one had to completely turn to face the board.  The best I can do to describe it is with arrows on the seating chart diagram on the second page of the handout posted below.

The other aspect of seating is about grouping students heterogeneously.  So often during math and literacy workshop, my teaching points group students by levels, and students often stay in the same group for too long.  So the seating arrangement allows students to interact with others that they don’t normally work with.  This improves classroom climate and management…well, as long as you continue to work on it (see posts about engagement and social-emotional learning). The heterogeneous groups include:

  1. Peace & Time Keeper: Responsible for reminding the groupmembers of their roles and the time remaining to complete tasks. I like to assign anyone to the Peace Keeper position as it is the most flexible job.
  2. Speaker: Responsible for sharing group ideas with the whole class and listening to the group. The Speaker could be an outspoken person or a person you want to challenge to participate more and practice speaking out loud.
  3. Material Manager: Responsible for getting and returning materials. The Material Manager is generally a person who needs to move.  Unfortunately the movers tend to be unorganized; however, it is good to work on that skill.
  4. Recorder: Responsible for listening to the group and writing down their ideas for assignments or tasks. The Recorder position is ideal for a student that is shy (if you have not seen the TED talk by Susan Cain about “Quiet” or read her book – it’s a must!)

Downloadable Resource:

Seating Chart

What is the most important consideration for your seating arrangement? 


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