Some thoughts I've had lately for my classroom, that build on my Family Homes idea. I really want my classroom to be a safe and welcoming place for my students, and to develop a strong sense of community.
Each student will be part of a Family, and each Family will have their House and mailbox (as in my earlier post), the Families will do some projects and activities together, but there will be other types of groups in my classroom as well. Students will be sorted into Math and Reading Groups based on their level (skill and speed) that fit with the Neighborhood/Community Theme.
Math Groups: Lemonade Stand, Bake Sale, Rummage Sale (if I need more than three: Apothecary - as in soap or lotions, or Car Wash) Each Math group will have worksheets or assignments that help them calculate what they would need to operate those types of fundraisers (and perhaps really do them)
Reading Groups: I haven't quite decided, but I'm leaning towards types of trees - Oak, Maple, Pine, Willow, etc. I would prefer to have pre-decided names for these groups because I feel that spending an entire class period picking a group name is a waste of time and at least one person in the group will resent or hate the group name for the whole year, you can also end up with some ridiculous names. I distinctly remember my first grade reading group naming process. (Yes I am weird and have a freaky memory for really dumb stuff). One of the boys suggested that we be The Runny Noses, one kid said The Tigers and a girl said The Punky Brewsters. Thinking that I was clever AND that it would never get picked, I suggested Punky Noses. We voted and there were three kids who adamantly wanted to be The Tigers and the rest of our group (about 6 kids) picked Punky Noses. The teacher put the Tigers into their own group and we stayed Punky Noses for the rest of the year.
General Seating Arrangements
4 desks pushed together to form a table. Each seat numbered 1-4. Each Table given a letter. Each student assigned to a specific seat (probably with a name tag taped down - if I have fifth graders their names will be in Cursive!) Classroom supplies will be organized into bins/cups/stacks corresponding to each Table. Each seat number will have specific jobs for certain things. So, for example, if we are going to do something that uses crayons, scissors and paper, it will be the person in seat 1 at each table to get their Table's container of crayons, container of scissors, and enough sheets of paper for everyone at their table, Seat 2 people will have to make sure there isn't anything left on the floor, Seat three will organize and put things back in their container and Seat 4 will put the containers back where they belong.