Dr. Baros is a dedicated researcher, educator, and LGBTQ advocate. Her areas of expertise are proficiency-based language teaching and creating inclusive environments for LGBTQ students and people.
Over Spring Break, I had the opportunity to observe a French classroom that did Organic World Language. While there are still some things I'm hesitant about with the method, I did get a huge takeaway regarding classroom organization.
I've never been a fan of desks. They're in the way, clunky, and hinder true interaction. This is a major point of the OWL method. So what do they do? Students stand or sit in a circle! The desks are gone. Students are all able to see and interact with one another as well as the teacher.
I decided I had to give this a try in my own classroom and did so as soon as I got back. My initial thought is that I love it - suddenly, my students who don't usually interact are in the front row and able to participate - many of whom did so on their own. They're able to see what's going on with everyone else and comment on it. I can see all of them and move freely about my classroom - as can they. With only two people next to them, classroom management is easy enough to simply ask someone to move to another part of the circle. We can act things out in the circle or I can bring people to the middle. If I write something on the board (which is kept to a minimum), students can move around to see it clearly. No more heads down on desks or texting/reading under desks - and definitely no sleeping!
I can see a few clear issues that are easily solved with the right resources and classroom management techniques - both of which are going to be difficult to adjust in the final quarter of the year, but not impossible.
How does this solve my problems and then some?
What do you think? How would you put in your buckets seats and what activities would you do with students in a circle?
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