I use groups of four desks the most often. This arrangement is great for group projects or small discussions. Everyone can see the teacher and the front board. It also makes my room look much larger.
To begin the year, I like to put the students in pairs. Frequently, they work with someone they might not know that well and if I mix up the pairs often enough, my classes become acquainted quickly. (There are two ways to do pairs, either side by side or face to face. I've used both at different times.)
A circle of desks works well for Socratic Circles, but the students love one big circle for reading plays aloud, too. I've tried it with writing days, but have quickly found the importance of being able to see everyone's computer screen at all times. (Don't ask!)
This is a small circle for Socratic Circles.
Two straight lines facing each other work well for face-off discussions, and also for passing writings or other projects up and down the rows from student to student. This way they have a chance to see their peer's work. Leaving the project, writing, or computer on the desk and having the students move also works well.
Finally, I use traditional rows of desks for final exam days and for writing days. My desk is in the back of the room so while students are facing away from me, I can see everyone's screen. This works great on writing days. On exam days, I work from the front of the room or walk around.
I project new seating arrangements on my document reader for everyone to see. Students know where to sit when they enter the room. (I can't imagine the chaos if they waited for me to seat them.) If you make your seating chart with sticky notes, it is easy to change your seating arrangements. I am forever grateful to the cute, young colleague who taught me this trick! I also like to use the computer seating chart that comes with our grade book program and has photos of students. (I'm pretty sure subs love this one, too.)
Oh, almost forgot one. We don't watch videos very often. In fact, I rarely show a full movie, but the Friday before break I was showing them bits and pieces (mainly the stabbing and the battle scenes) of Julius Caesar. This was a popular arrangement, though we could have used some popcorn. (There were four rows like this.)
My favorite quote of the year? Upon seeing yet another arrangement of desks one student said, "Mrs. E, you gotta get a new hobby."
But the most surprising?? My custodian loves cleaning my room. I guess they need a change once in awhile, too.
Want more seating arrangements or seating chart ideas? Click on the seating arrangement label in the sidebar.