Connecting Mind & Body
Collaborative groups can gain effectiveness simply through the proper arrangement
of sitting positions. Studies demonstrate that very positive results can be achieved
by choosing the correct seating arrangement for a specified collaborative activity
In the K-12 learning space, our goal is to empower all group members allowing
them to have equal influence in the group.
The seating positions of this
group will be the primary factor that will naturally encourage more ideas and
discussion through a level of increased interaction. The difference between
“Traditional Rectangular Groups” and “Round or Pentagonal Groups.”
Traditional or Standard Rectangular Groups
In the traditional or standard rectangular seating arrangement of four, there is a mood or
competition or confrontation that is present. In this configuration there is often pairing off
based on the seating position of sitting on opposite sides. Traditionally, this is the position
that negotiators would prefer to be in and is recognized as a “Face Off” position.
When you add one more participant on each side of the group, (equaling six
participants in total). In this instance an additional two problems are created that
are not conducive to a K-12 Collaboration. The first is a lack of visual contact with
every group member and the second is the middle person in each row of three will
typically end up taking on a dominate roll of being a mediator or group leader.
Progressive Round or Pentagon Groups
This type of seating arrangement is not new but it can provide considerable insight
into the way that human interactive exchanges can be altered when compared
to the traditional style. The most famous example of this was with King Arthur
and the Knights of the Round Table. Every Knight that sat around the table was
considered to be an equal to his peers and there was no central power position.
Visual contact is very inclusive and because of that, there is no dominate roll in the group
that has been created through a seating position. The ability to visually see all of the group
members is vitally important for the group. This promotes the ability to interact and share
ideas better. The result is to gain a better understanding of the subject matter as a whole.
Through visual contact you are able to judge a person’s Body Language.
Body language is displayed in four different yet important ways:
1. Head Movement
2. Facial expressions
3. Body Posture
4. Hand and Finger Gestures
Simply by having visual contact with all group members you are able make a quick
determination about the participation level of all members:
• Are all group members paying attention?
• Are all group members participating?
• Is there a sense of agreement or disagreement among the participants?
• Is anyone choosing not to participate?
This arrangement creates a more cooperative situation for discussion and a sense of equality instead of hierarchy.
A study from the University of Montana indicates that the “Round or Pentagon Groups” create a Web network type of communication. The
word “Web” is to indicate cross directional method of communication. This is a more open method of communication in which members are
encouraged to communicate directly with each other. Information is relayed more rapidly and each member feels they have greater influence
in the group. The Alumni y5 collaborative groupings are designed around the knowledge that we have gained through these recognized
studies about the very best implementation of collaboration. The Alumni y5 practices implement this knowledge in the most effective manner
creating the foot print for the most successful out comes in the roll out and implementation of 21st Century collaborative learning.