After reading all of The Sisters books and recently attending their workshop in Edmonton I did it! At the start of the year I had 30 desks and I took them all out excpet for 12 that I turned into two table groups of 6. I purchased chairs, a couch, and differenct size and shape coffee tables. I was so nervous! Going from every student having a desk for my entire teaching career, to open seating was a big leap for me. I made this move because I was finding when I let the students choose where they would like to sit they never wanted to sit at desks and the desks were getting in my way.

Here are my questions for those teachers out there that have this set up:

  1. How do you make sure that the students aren’t always sitting with friends, but trully making a good seating choice for themselves?
  2. How to arrange students during testing times?
  3. The students volume is much higher at times - suggestions?

I would appreciate any words of wisdom to those teaching in this way





Laura Meegan

I would also love to hear what others have done about testing and even whole group lessons. What about snack time? I don’t want to have a rotating snack time…it’s quicker to have everyone eat at the same time than to rotate kids through one eating area in stages. And what about whole group lessons when the rug isn’t big enough for the entire class to stretch out on (for handwriting or math journal pages)? What about an interactive white board that you need all children to see? Open seating would be a big leap for me, too. I love and understand the idea behind it, but can’t seem to plunge in. Your question about students that choose to sit with friends (when that’s not the best choice for them) is a good one, too. I hope others will share their experiences with letting go of the desks.


Here is the sound of a teacher who has let go of desks–and seen others do the same–AHHHhhhhhh . . . . Truly the kids love having choice. One of the premises of Daily 5 is “choice”, but with the understanding that you have choice because you follow the I-chart guidelines.
I believe these charts are the key to success for Daily 5. Creating them, reviewing them often and sticking to them are a most important part of getting your class in “Daily 5 Form”.
I agree that snack time should be at a set time for all to choose the snack, but why couldn’t they eat the snack while doing either read to self, work on writing, or even writing.
I suggest really working to get an area rug that is big enough for your whole group. The sessions in the whole group area shouldn’t be for extended periods of time (think mini-lessons), so don’t let that be a big problem for you.
Just a few thoughts . . .


Meghan Clifford

Open seating update - I LOVE IT!!! Changing my classroom to open seating is the best choice I ever made! I am so happy and so are the kids. The parents have been so supportive. One mom has been going on a local furniture swap and has been bringing me furniture all week. I will say though some of the other teachers have been “uncomforable…” If you are considering this I highly suggest you jump in and do it!
I have some pictures so I will attach some latter today.

Michelle Jenkins

Would love to see some photos of your classroom with open seating! I teach first grade and do not have complete open seating, meaning that students have their own seats at tables, but during many parts of the day they are free to sit wherever (especially during partner work). Also, something that works well for me for testing is the use of the whole group area where the smart board is and where the items on the document camera may be viewed easily by all. During test time, the students may sit in this area or anywhere in the room back to back with a partner or by themselves as long as they can see the smart board to follow along with the test. They love sitting back-to-back with each other and they use their clipboards to take the test. Along with taking brain breaks after a page or two of a test, they love taking formal assessments now!


Photos? I would
love to see some!

Tammy Davis

I want to see photos too!!!


There are a lot of great ideas to gather from the Classroom Design tab on the main page of the Daily Cafe site. Lots of ideas to consider when thinking about your own specific classroom. It’s wonderful to see photos of classrooms to get ideas that can be used to enhance our own.
The Sisters have a CD about classroom design called “Simply Beautiful” available on the Choice Literacy site at this link: . Scroll down until you see it–there’s one for primary grades and one for intermediate grades. There’s also one for library and classroom library spaces.

Malynda Green

Have you had any problems with fire marshal/fire inspection people? I ask because I’m in California and our local fire marshal is SUPER strict. He checks the school several times a year. We aren’t allowed to have any furniture with fabric in it (so no couches, chairs, bean bags, curtains, etc… We CAN have a rug, but so far that’s all I’ve been able to “get away” with) and are very limited as to what/how much we can put on our walls (my CAFE board was too much paper, I put it back up when he wasn’t looking ) . There were also rules about how desks could be grouped and where they could be placed. I’m moving “back home” to Colorado this summer so I’m curious about teachers there, have you run into any problems with these rules? And if so, suggestions for open seating that students will like that will actually pass?

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