Sunday, October 5, 2014

Circle Up! Why I prefer this to assigned squares

If you are like me, you probably have a carpet in your classroom that looks a little bit like this...


Perfect for giving kids their own carpet square.  A place to sit every time you meet as a class on the carpet. It's their spot and nobody elses.  Plus- you can separate those talkative ones, right?!

My first & second year- my whole group time looked a lot like that.  Students had their own carpet square and that was where I expected them to sit when I asked them to meet me on the carpet.  I sat the kids who had trouble staying focused up near me, separated the talkative ones, and the ones who tended to get into mischief if they sat together.

It was fine...except...
-My "Good" students got the shaft.  They got stuck between kids who struggled to pay attention, who were talkative...They sat in the back- and sometimes, some of them would drift off... It kinda looked like this- only probably with one child laying down, another talking to a neighbor, and another up walking around.  Yup...don't deny it...you know it happens.


So this year I decided to try Circling up instead of squares. Now, with 18 "Squares" on the outside of the carpet and 23 students + me AND my easel- this is a little bit of a challenge but we figure it out.


Here are the benefits I've noticed so far:

-Not only can I see every student, but they can also see each other- Keeping them accountable for their engagement and behavior (Yes this can also be a distraction- especially if you have a class clown - I had to ask students who were being a distraction to sit outside of our circle for a few weeks before they finally understood that their behavior wouldn't be tolerated)

-When someone has something to say- students can easily turn their heads to the person who is speaking to be an active listener rather than turning their whole body.. 

-It has more of a "family" feel.  Everyone feels and knows they are a part of our room and that they matter.

-It's harder for students to drift off because they know there are 23 pairs of eyes that can see them.

-It's easier to have group conversations.

All in all- I've enjoyed our whole group "Circle up" time and think it has had a positive impact on our class community!

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