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Day 25: Niels Nielsen, Teacher (Pinewood Elementary)

October 11, 2012

The desks are-a-changing’

Here’s a simple idea that I came up with a few years back to help make the class a more inclusive/caring place.

It is really important to me as a classroom teacher to ensure my students are both comfortable in the classroom but also willing to take risks. I love group work; but at the same time group work can be incredibly frustrating when the group dynamics aren’t great. It is my hope that every student in my class can work equally well with every other student.

Enter the weekly desk change!

Here is how I do it:

First I created a template in smart notebook:

Next, randomize the students. I use the random word chooser tool found in the gallery section of smart notebook, (see pic 2) to randomly assign students to the desks in the original template that I created.

Now the fun begins… The names are set and its time to move. I use another smartboard tool (see pic 3) – the timer – and set it for 2.5 min. and watch the students try to figure out how to get their desks to right place.


It’s two and half minutes of chaos but it’s worth it.  After a about a month it’s absolutely amazing how well they can work together to make the desk change happen (eventually you speed up the desk change to about 1.5 min).  Students look forward to the desk change; basically this is a weekly teambuilding ritual. Each week offers the student’s a new chance to work beside someone different. By no means does this guarantee that all your future group work projects will be flawless but it does help shift the classroom narrative in a positive direction.

Mix it up and have fun!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. sharon permalink
    October 19, 2012 5:03 pm

    Thank you for sharing Neils!

  2. Dianne Turner permalink
    October 19, 2012 5:20 pm

    Niels your students are truly learning to create, and be part of a community in your classroom, as you provide them with the opportunities to experience so many chances to learn how to connect with one another.

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