Series: David Olio: Case Study of a Teacher

Desk Arrangement: Four Corners
Lesson Objective: Arrange desks to facilitate collaboration
All Grades / All Subjects / Collaboration

Thought starters

  1. How does this strategy different from other small group seating arrangements?
  2. Why does this strategy increase collaboration?
  3. How could you adapt this strategy in your classroom?
consider that when a student with a learning disability or an English learner is in a group of four native English speakers, that student is highly likely to be marginalized. My opinion is based only on discussions with some experts and teachers, not solid research. "Two or three corners" (pairs, triads) better supports the involvement of English learners and students with learning disabilities in inclusive classrooms. Collaborative/social learning should be part of every lesson every day, especially for diverse learners. Perhaps a teacher could form groups of various sizes according to task and member composition.
Recommended (4)
I call it 'the pinwheel' - works great unless they all need to face the same direction at the same time (as in the white board).
Recommended (2)
Nice idea if you use groups of 4. I use groups or teams of two. It is easier to supervise and accountability is superior but it is more work.
Recommended (1)
This is the same set up used in my middleschool class. This issue of the whiteboard is non-existent as the kids just flip their desk around to see the whiteboard. I really enjoy this set up for the dialogue encourages and the janitor loves how easy it is to get around the class in clean-up.
Recommended (0)
I use this four student grouping for my expert activities to complete some sort of assignment and present to the class.
Recommended (0)


  • Desk Arrangement: Four Corners Transcript

    Teacher [interview]: The desk configuration that I use in small groups is called Four Corner. Student

    Desk Arrangement: Four Corners Transcript

    Teacher [interview]: The desk configuration that I use in small groups is called Four Corner. Student desks are always a problem because they're difficult to get in and out of for kids when they're sitting in small groups. Why not turn them into a four-corner arrangement so that everyone faces each other and is easily able to get in and out of their seats. In addition to that, we want students to be able to have careful dialogue and conversation to be able to share work.

    Student: Oh! That's what you meant.

    Teacher [interview]: The four corner arrangement does facilitate more conversations. Students face each other - get more opportunities to talk. They have more opportunities to make more close eye-contact and then more opportunities for students to be able to speak and to listen.

School Details

South Windsor High School
161 Nevers Rd
South Windsor CT 06074
Population: 1364

Data Provided By:



David Olio



All Grades / All Subjects / Tch Tools

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, All Subjects, Class Culture

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, ELA, Class Culture

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Students / Class Culture