Sunday 11 September 2011

Getting Pupils into a Seating Plan : Activity

This week I wanted to put one of my new classes into a seating plan, but I didn't want to do it at the start of the lesson. I had two lessons with them in one day, which made this work really well, but it would still work if you only had one lesson.

Before the Lesson
I planned my seating plan (alphabetical but adjusted so it was boy-girl).
I numbered the seating plan. I have three rows of ten so I numbered it 1-10 three times.
I wrote a slip of paper for each pupil, saying group 1/2/3 and then their number 1-10.

 During the Lesson
I told the class we were going to have a competition. I told them that as I call out the register I was going to give each person a piece of paper with a group number and a secret number that they weren't allowed to tell anyone. I did this (it took quite a while) and then I told the class what we were going to do:
  • You are going to get into three groups. Group one at the back, group two at the side, and group three at the front.
  • In your group, you have to line up so that you are in number order. The first group to do this are the winners. 
  • You are not allowed to speak or mouth. You are not allowed to write, or hold up fingers to show numbers. You are not allowed to use the slip of paper I gave you.
I then got choruses of "that's impossible!" etc. But they were really keen to have a go.
When they'd finished, I told them to remember what number they were.

Next Lesson
I told the pupils as they came in that group one will sit on the front row, group two on the middle row, and three on the back. Number 1 will sit by the window, and 10 by the door. Voila, no confusion and no fuss. I can also use these numbers in the future for other activities.

Why I Thought This Was Good

I hadn't actually thought of any techniques the pupils could use to get themselves in order. I wanted to see what they would come up with. I was so impressed, all three groups came up with different ideas, and they were all brilliant. I think this exercise gets the pupils to remember that numbers are concepts, not words or  symbols. One pupil picked up a stack of textbooks behind her, and took her number from the pile. The others in her group then followed suit. This emphasises that numbers only really make sense as the size (or measure) of a set (or object). Another group used a calculator. Because they assumed that just typing in their number was disallowed, they typed in calculations that would equal their number. The last group got in order by indicating how high or low their number was by holding their hands a certain width apart. This was nice because it emphasises that numbers are about comparing and about relative size.

It was also good to do with a new class because you can spot instantly who the leaders are. In each group, one or two people took charge from the word go.

It was also kinaesthetic. Need I say more?

I hope you all had a good week. For me it was incredibly long and tiring. I need the whole weekend to recover and hence will get no lesson planning done. It's going to be another exhusting week!

Emma x x x


  1. This is brilliant... I am going to use it next week as I am starting my nqt year! Scared! Do you have a twitter account to follow?

  2. I think I set up a Twitter account a while ago to promote the blog, and then I kind of forgot about it (the NQT does that to you...) I may have to get back into it. It'll be called NQTpi so you can follow me if you want, but at the moment there won't be anything interesting!

    You are right to be scared about your NQT year. But trust me on this: Christmas is the top of the hill. Reach it and afterwards everything's easy.

  3. I saw this last year when you posted it, and am now Finally going to use it next week in my (equally terrifying nqt): THANK YOU!