Sparking Student Motivation: Continent Grouping

Today I'm linking up with my bud, Joanne, from Head Over Heels for Teaching
Today I want to share one of my most successful management ideas:
Grouping student desks.

We change desks a lot in my class (about every 3 weeks) for a number of reasons:
1. It allows the students to work with a variety of classmates
2. Table groups can only sit together for so long before conflict arises,
3. I like to mix it up for our Team Challenge Competition.

Team Challenge Competition: 
Each week the students earn tally points for their "team" (table group) for answering questions correctly, being the first group cleaned up, waiting quietly, etc. Teams can also lose points for calling out, being off-task, arguing, disrespectful behavior, etc. On Friday the team with the most points wins either a prize from the treasure box, a No Homework coupon, a Sit-by-a-Friend coupon or a Lunch with Mrs. Lawler coupon. 

*I find the Team Challenge Competition is one of the best motivators for quality work and proper behavior - they are motivated by not only the incentive, but also the positive peer pressure from their group.*

Here are samples of the signs:
I printed out the signs, backed them on construction paper, and laminated them. I then put stuck them on cute little picture frame holders I found in the Target $1 Spot.
I also have a desk in my room called "Antarctica"
This is a place where I can send students who need to "Cool Down" because they're arguing with a teammate, getting stressed, or are having trouble concentrating:
You can download the signs for FREE from my TpT store: Continent Table Group Labels


  1. I love that Antarctica is a "cool down time." We all need a break from others sometimes, and the fact that they go there to cool down, and not because they are in trouble is fantastic. Thanks for sharing.

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  2. Antarctica is the best!! We move desks on the first of every month and the kids look forward to it. I have never had them sit in continents before but we have done physical regions. I like the idea of having group challenges. Thank you!

  3. I love the idea of "Antarctica"! I may need to create a cool down table in my room this year.

    I also use the team points in my classroom from time to time and I do find it a very motivating tool! Love the way your tables are named after continents. I'm still debating the names for my tables. :)

    - Pam
    Moments to Teach

  4. I love this idea. Thank you so much for sharing! I also love Antarctica. This year my grade level is doing a refocus desk for students who need to redirect behavior. I like that this is still a positive reinforcement by calling it Antarctica because it is still part of the whole world.

  5. How stinkin' cute is this!?! Between you and Joanne, y'all create the best stuff so super fast! I love everything y'all make!! Thanks for this freebie!!! :O)

    Have a great weekend!
    Collaboration Cuties

    PS- does it really rain a lot in Seattle?

  6. I love how many things you create to go with your theme! Your theme is actually educational, unlike mine! haha (although they learn a lot about fashion! hehe) Antarctica is the perfect place for your students to take a break without being embarrassed-love it! How many students are at each table group? Thanks for sharing and linking up friend!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  7. This is such a great idea!! "Team Challenge Competition"...what upper elementary student wouldn't be motivated by those words? Thanks for sharing!
    Fourth Grade Flipper


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