What did I learn: always arrange the class for the activities your students are doing. If you are lucky enough to have desks/tables that aren't bolted to the floor, move them (just put them back for the next teacher).
For example, the u-shaped/horseshoe arrangement (pictured above) is fantastic for pair work and activities like "Sprint to the Board" and "Writing Races." Additionally, the arrangement of the desks provides a large central area for mill drills/mingles/surveys and role plays.
But what if you want students to work in small groups instead of pairs?
But what if you want students to work individually?
- no one has their back to the front of the class (cluster arrangement)
- no one has to crane their neck to see the front of the room (horseshoe arrangement)
- students are spaced further apart so the temptation to cheat should be lower
- additionally, if you only use the traditional arrangement for exams/presentations, the arrangement reinforces the purpose of the days activity - students know this set up is for "x" not "y"
One last thing,As for my second lesson, I kept the horseshoe but asked the students to:
- stand up
- grab their desk
- drag it one step forward
- sit down