Deskless Question

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19 thoughts on “Deskless Question”

  1. Here is a follow-up email from this person:
    …I also asked this question on the deskless Facebook group, but I just got just one response from a single teacher….
    I find this weird. I guess there is no research.

  2. More from this teacher:
    I need research. I think we need to work on something so we can include this approach in the work you and Tina are doing. In your book, you mention it briefly, but I think we need to find or show more evidence of the results connecting it with some theory. I remember that I realized the importance of being deskless when I attended your workshop. What do you think?
    I am also concerned about the teacher’s evaluation process. Some colleagues have seen what I am doing and they support this approach, but I am the only one in the department.
    That is why I decided to contact you, join your PLC, and seek your help.
    Thank you again.

  3. I think that this is a good opportunity for us to do some combined field research. I personally place more value on what real practicing professional experience in their classrooms than actual research, but only in the field of education.
    We certainly can’t do any formal academic research, but we can, if enough people respond, keep reporting back on this and other similar topics over the year. So if any of us teach in a deskless classroom or whatever the topic is we would need to remember during the year that if we try any deskless activity to share our findings and observations with the PLC. We can’t just take. We must give too.
    If enough people respond, I wouldn’t mind writing a bite size book about it, or on any other worthy topic. I have about ten such little books in the works right now. It could be useful. (This PLC is an archival gold mine for writing books, so if anyone has the time and inclination to write one, I heartily approve, on any topic that interests them that might help others.)
    It is our combined discussion here that can really help our profession, I have found over the years. This is especially true for the new non-targeted work we are doing, so once people get their heads wrapped around NTCI in particular, we all would like as many “reports from the field” as possible here on that topic, or any other topic. Don’t be shy! The heart of the change lies in the shared daily discussion here and on all the other CI groups, blogs, etc. out there.
    What is unfortunate about the big box store groups is that the discussions there lack the potential to go narrow and deep on any topic that has energy – things become too diffuse. Not to mention the privacy factor. (I keep the group around 300 people and have kicked a fair amount of people off the group for various transgressions that undermine professional trust and safety.)
    In a sad tale, a guy on the East Coast, years and years ago, culled enough articles from this (at the time) public blog to power a PhD, but didn’t credit any of the various authors who shared their ideas here. His thesis was a travesty of taking ideas from here and pasting them together. I found out about the whole thing in a very bizarre way. Oh well, right? People do such things.
    Just remember that our success in getting to the bottom of such questions as the one posted above about diskless classrooms depends on if enough people in the group here chime in on the various topics that come up.

  4. My opinion is that few people agree on desks vs. no desks and everybody does it how they want. I have done both. I personally prefer over the deskless classroom rows of small tables left to right facing me with chairs so I can pack a lot of chairs behind a single row of smallish tables arranged left to right using the width, not length, of the room.
    But for this to happen the whiteboard and projector needs to be set up the wide way, which is not very often the case. Most classrooms put the desks the long way, which allows some kids in big classes to practically disappear in the back.
    But if you can set it up the wide way, small tables arranged not in columns but in left to right rows of 14 chairs each, or 28 with two rows, or 42 with three rows, this keeps them all close to you because they are sitting next to each other in chairs that take up little space vs. a desk which is simply not needed in the work we do and far too bulky.
    That is why I prefer those little tables with chairs behind them, anything that prevents emotional hiding, cell phone activity, etc.
    My opinion is that any admins attacking deskless classrooms are just plain wrong. The idea that kids need desks to write on in a CI classroom is absurd, because we can’t do much writing and still align with the research about how people acquire languages. The students can just sit on the floor and write on a textbook (there’s a good use for the textbook!) or arrange something else. To me this applies to all levels – K-12. We should ship every desk in every language classroom in the country to the universities, where they “need” them because they learn in their minds and we acquire in our bodies.
    I do think that not having tables or desks causes emotional distress in most kids, who can’t handle the verbal give and take and cannot provide sufficient observable non verbal behaviors. That is bad for them but bad for us also if we try all of a sudden to place them in a setting that they have never experienced before. We have to do much emotional training in that case and I refuse to do all the work my colleagues in other subjects have failed to do throughout my building and in other buildings throughout these kids’ academic lives, which affects their entire lives and ability to earn a living.
    Is this what we want from our education tax dollars?
    I pulled all four of my boys out of Columbine High School for that (and other) reasons. I did the right thing. Desks provide, in most American schools, exactly what most teachers need: control. But the devastation that results is kids who can’t sustain a conversation on any academic subject, which results in crippling communication skills, except, as usual, for the few.
    Your situation is unique bc of the size of the room. You need a bigger room. Any of us who have taught in those really small closet type classrooms should get double pay.
    But honestly I am not aware of any research on this topic. I don’t think you’ll find any. University people probably won’t do the research because they like to keep everything in the mind and in a textbook, which is how they teach, which is not really what Vygotsky, Krashen etc. have shown works in language acquisition.
    My personal thinking is that if you are being required by an ignorant supervisor to use desks and they want you to, demand a bigger room.

  5. Real quick, I think you can make a case that writing comes after reading. So students will read together and do some “close reading” vis the reading option activities before they write. You can then maybe use the library or other area to find desks so that they can do a fluency write. Done. I wouldn’t fight with research as it can be an uphill battle. Writing comes later. At my school, I have tables at the edges of my room for my writing assessments. I also ask students to use their laptops to write me an exit ticket of what they understood, a summary or even 1-3 sentences using the supports (translations) on the board.
    Hope this helps.

  6. So one answer we can draw from what Steven said is that the answer to the question of deskless classrooms may not lie in any research done on classroom setup by researchers, but in common sense that rests on the research.
    Any point made by the research can be used to hang conclusions on about how a language classroom based on the research should be set up.
    For example, if the research says that we write well after after we read and listen, then why have writing devices in the classroom? Input is what language students need, and in my view not for two years but for at least four. So the research drives how the classroom is set up, as Steven implies.

    1. I agree. My administration replied to me that there was no policy against deskless. They would like to see my lessons and that seems positive. I do not have access to computers in my room. There is a lab that I can reserve when I need it. I decided to buy clipboards out of pocket. My classes are between 33 to 39 students. I believe we need to work together. I am reading some comments on facebook about deskless classrooms and I believe I am not the only who is facing resistance either by the students, administration, colleagues, and/or parents. Based on that experience, I believe some research or reports need to be done to support that kind of classroom management. I am open to collaborating and provide input. Thanks again. Marcia

  7. I started my CI journey a year ago. I started out with tables and chairs. I tried “wings” and I tried semicircles. Both were ok but I didn’t love it. My biggest class size is 20 yet it still felt crowded in my room. When I wanted to do Reader’s Theatre or play Word Chunk Team Game, we had to waste time moving tables out of the way so we could do the activities.
    I decided to go deskless in December. I figured I’d try it for a couple weeks before winter break and then make a final decision after that. I was fed up with wasting time shifting furniture. At first, some kids struggled because they liked leaning on the tables. However, they grew used to it. I found that I love it. There’s nothing to “hide” behind now. Being deskless somehow forces them to engage even moreso. They put everything under their chairs or on a counter on the side. It’s quick and easy to move things aside for activities. And they pay closer attention.
    This year, I’ve changed things again. I’ve got 2 couches and 2 cushy chairs in the front row. For my bigger classes, they put up chairs behind the couches. For FCR, they can take cushions and read wherever they want to and they can put those cushions on their chairs also. I try to make sure that we do activities where we get up and move so they don’t have to sit too long in one spot. I get wiggly when I have to do that.

  8. I don’t know if you have Dollar Tree in where you live but they have clipboards that will last you all year for $1 each.
    You can also go to thrift stores and collect those “lap desks” with the wood on one side and a pillow on another.
    By the way I have a video where I give a walkthrough of my classroom. I sell it on Teachers Pay Teachers but I am providing it here for free for members of Ben’s PLC.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-p67fn2pQg
    Please do not share with non-PLC members.

    1. Greg : Thank you so much for sharing this video and providing feedback. It is very inspiring. I am working step by step to build up my classroom. It takes time and resources. Your video gave me great ideas to start collecting items that I can use in my classroom. You are very generous about sharing it here. I am working with the students every day so they can value this non-traditional way of teaching. I had the open house today and some parents told me that they were happy with this non-traditional approach. This job never ends. Administration and evaluation are my next goal since they do not have experience with CI and deskless. Thank you again to all the members who have taken the time to reply. This group gives me hope and I feel supported. Thank you and good night! Marcia

      1. For those who don’t know Marcia, she is in Tuscon and is truly a wonderful, kind and open-hearted person and if we can help her then that makes me very happy. Marcia is top flight in every aspect. We wish her the best year ever! And thanks Greg for the link. That’s why you are the “CI Guy”. Please share your website link below for anyone interested in exploring. You have one good reader out. Anything else?

  9. I met a teacher in Chicago who went from desks to lecterns to teach Latin and had very positive results. We were being given a tour to showcase the positive things happening in CPS and they made a point to send us through his classroom. He found that with his large classes it was much easier to circulate through the room without the cumbersome desks, and students did better work standing since they sat all day in their other classes. It’s an anecdote, not research, but I think it is important that admin consider that there are other successful ways to run a classroom, not just with children in desks.

  10. Wow everybody! John Becker! When Tina and I did a workshop in St. Louis in 2017, our first real attempt at sharing what is now the content of ANATTY with people, John did a demo of how to create a story out of a One Word Image that, simply put, didn’t just rock the house, but the whole block. Here is my description of that demo for those interested in the topic of moving from a one word image into a story:
    https://benslavic.com/blog/optimum-owi/

    1. I appreciate the kind words, amigo, but it’s really the system you and Tina have gifted us with that really rocks the block, and is what allowed us to create compelling, comprehensible language together.
      I’m sorry I missed this summer’s workshop here in StL, but I hear it was great. I’ve transitioned to an elementary school, and have been enjoying the ability to use NTCI with these great kids, something that was not easy to do in the climate of my last building. We’ve been training really hard with the rules and Card Talk for the first couple of weeks, but are getting ready to transition to OWI and Invisibles soon.
      Thanks everybody on the PLC for so much sharing and collaborating, I don’t post much, but I read almost everything, and it has kept me going through a lot of stuff!

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