row, row, row, your--be quiet!

Well, it's that time of year again. I am (almost always) a die-hard "heterogeneous grouping" fan. I love having kids of different ability levels working and collaborating together. But, once a trimester, generally in my more distractable class, I feel the need to go back to rows. Whether it's the over stimulation of Halloween or the nearness of the Thanksgiving break, my first block class has started to vibrate in their seats an alarming amount. That, coupled with the talking they have a greater tendency for anyways, prompted me to scoot them all back into rows.
And what a difference it has made! They're much quieter, more focused, and those that will always be a distraction now have fewer people to distract. I think I'll leave the rows this way until after Christmas, and then go back to the table groupings. It should give us time to get over the "hump" in the middle of the year when it feels as if we are always getting ready to go on vacation.
Of course, I don't like that their conversations, when they are on task, are now limited to the people directly next to them--but I am figuring out ways to have them share with the "wider" group. It's just so hard for these students, who have almost none of the basics that help make someone successful, to also be "independent" but we're working on it--and part of the goal is making sure I don't go crazy until well into February!