Groups of 3 with a 4th Desk Free #VRG

Yesterday,  my students were working on their independent practice problems on solving similar triangles on Khan Academy. As I reflected at the end of class, it was so obvious to me how important it is to have a seat free at each group’s desks so that I can sit with them to help them one-on-one. And while that seems obvious, I’m sure I’m not the only one that lets myself be lured into the temptation of sitting at my teacher desk while students work & saying “come over to me if you have any questions!” meanwhile I can shoot off an email or two that need sending. And of course a couple of students will come over to ask me something. But so many others will not leave their seat. Might not even get any work done at all & I won’t notice. Some just can’t get started because they have no idea where to start. So they’ll make it look like they’re working, but at the end of 75 minutes they haven’t done a single practice problem.

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Each group has either 4 desks or 3 desk + a stool.

Even on independent practice days, I have students sit in “visibly random groups” by giving out playing cards as they enter class. New partners, new seat every day.

So yesterday as my students started on their practice problems, I moved from group to group, helping students that asked for help. I also sat down to work through a question together with students that hadn’t even started yet (not because they’re being oppositional – but they just don’t know where to start!). Here’s a short video with my reflection on that 4th seat at each group:

Or you can view the video here also.

How do you make sure your quiet, reluctant learners get the same one-on-one help from you as those that self-advocate a little louder?

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

6 thoughts on “Groups of 3 with a 4th Desk Free #VRG

  1. Thanks Laura for this amazing idea!
    I will be trying this tomorrow with a (very!) lively group of about 20 college students — I may have to scour nearby classrooms for desks but I will definitely borrow/steal this!
    Thank you!!
    Robin

      • I take the cards I need from a deck with the group numbers I need; 3 of each. They sometimes try to trade so I watch to keep an eye that they sit at the group I gave them a card for … I dole out the cards in numerical order A, 2, 3, …, 8, A, 2, 3 … so that all groups are equal in size so it’s fairly easy to notice if they switch.

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