The few members of my class were having trouble staying on the websites that they were supposed to in my new 1:1 classroom. My classroom is set up in tables so I could really only watch about half the screens at one time. I’ve also had my kids in rows which made it easy to monitor screens, but I was always back of the room. As I was thinking about changing my seating arrangement the thought came to my mind that I should turn all the desks towards the back of the room and put them in rows.
I have to say that so far the seating arrangement is working out very well. The primary reason I had them turn around this so that I could monitor screens, but there turned out to be another big advantage to the seating arrangement. When I am teaching something up on the board I have the students turn their chairs all the way around which also turns them away from their desks and all the distractions that they find within them. For those times that I need to do direct instruction my students are much more engaged and focused. The seating arrangement has also worked out well for the primary purpose, I’ve seen a moderate bump in engaged student time on the web apps that we use.
While I don’t keep any seating arrangement for the whole year, the seating arrangement has worked out far better than I had expected. It’s easy for me to monitor whether students are actively using the learning software that they are supposed to. By turning away from their desks students pay attention to direct instruction just a little bit better. I think any teacher with a one-to-one classroom ought to give this a try.