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Charity Preston's picture
Charity Preston, M.A., is a national presenter, consultant and author. She has completed studies in gifted training, cooperative learning and differentiation, as well as a master's degree in...
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Learning at the Carpet

Many teachers believe that teaching from the carpet is a practice that should end after Kindergarten. The argument is that the students should practice self-control and be able to learn from their seats. In the real world, adults are not able to sit down on the floor to work. My view is that these teachers are correct. But, I am not teaching adults in the workplace. I am teaching children, who do not have the same level of concentration or maturity that an adult should have.

Working on the floor in a small group should not be done all day everyday. Each child will get plenty of practice at sitting at his or her seat to do written work and show self-control. But, if you expect children (even through middle school) to sit quietly in their seats for 6 hours a day and not go stir crazy, you probably haven't taken a child development class recently.

As adults, we even get antsy when sitting in one place for too long. Think about the last staff meeting or professional development conference you attended. Chances are you noticed others who were either talking to a neighbor, taking an active part in the conversation at hand with the speaker, or daydreaming about something. Any brain-based research will show (at any age), we are not able to process information after sitting too long. It will simply go in one ear, and almost quite literally out the other to be forgotten. This holds especially true for children who are forced to sit hour after hour in the same seat taking notes or listening to a lecture.

I usually try to teach for 10-15 minutes from the carpet (whole group), have the students move about the room in some sort of cooperative learning activity to practice the concept, return to the carpet to discuss the learning that had just taken place, and finally, sent to the seat to complete independent work. Retention level will tend to be higher than whole group from the seats. The more involved students are in the process, the more interactive it becomes and all will learn as much from one another as from you.

When teaching from the carpet, I tend to choose whom each student will sit next to during the lesson. I may have the students sit next to the student they normally sit next to at their desk. Another option is to have the class teams (groupings of desks) sit next to one another. And even another choice is to allow students to choose one partner...with the stipulation of boys choosing girls and girls choosing boys. In this way, there tends to be a lot less chatting amongst friends and horseplay.

Just by this change of environment of moving through the room and sitting on the floor rather than at a desk, the dimensional aspect of the pupil has changed. Each one is more likely to be interested to see what will come next and what you may have to say just by keeping the novelty of seeing the room in different ways.


Charity Preston - The Organized Classroom