How to Use Columns & Rows In Your Classroom

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Columns, Rows, Partners, Small Group, Circles, and Other Configurations for the Classroom

Here’s a class with 4 rows and 7 columns. I usually sat students alphabetically in this arrangement which helped me more quickly take grades and helped with learning names. Unless we were playing drums, K-5 sat on the floor.

My 6-8 sat in chairs and I tried to keep the columns in even numbers so that stand partners were easy to set up. I used a seating chart with middlers where I paired them up in those stand partnerships based on their musical/behavioral skills. I’d put someone with behavior challenges with a student with a strong calming influence, or a student who had good skills and interpersonal qualities with a student who needed help with their music skills. More on Classroom Management.


  • Looking at the above picture, row 1 and 3 turn around and you instantly have partners. #1 and #8 are partners, # 17 and #24, etc.
  • To shake this up, ask rows 2 and 3 to switch places, then have row 1 and 3 turn around and everyone has a new partner. #1 is now partnered with #15.
  • Column 1 and 2 face each other. They are partners. #1 and #2 are partners, #8 and #9, etc. Columns 3 and 4 face and columns 5 and 6. If you have a column 7, quickly pair them up.
    • You can easily change the partners by pairing the columns in reverse order: columns 7 and 6, 5 and 4, 3 and 2, then figure out column 1.
    • And again another change: pair columns 1 and 2, 3 and 4, 7 and 6, and 5 will be your odd column.
  • That’s lots of partner combinations but sometimes with even that many, kids get tired of it. “I Let Her Go Go” is a circle dance partner changing game. We played it a lot. Sometimes if I wanted the kids to work with partners, I’d play “I Let Her Go Go” for about three or four repeats and then I’d say, “This is your partner.” Then I’d give them their instructions for the activity. It added some variety and was very quick to do.


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Small Groups

  • I would quickly point and say, “You 4. You 4, etc” I was pointing to 1, 2, 8, and 9, then 15, 16, 22, 23, the 3, 4, 10, 11, and so on. The last column would be left out, but it’s 4 kids so they are a group OR let’s say there are only 26 kids in your class, then that last group would only have 3 members.
  • Column 1, you are a group. Make your circle by #22. Column 2, you are a group. Make your circle by #2. Column 3, you are a group. Make your circle by #17, and so on. You’ve put different kids together and quickly spread them around the room.


  • My circles were in alpha order and could be created very quickly. No running to be by your friend.
  • If you want two circles, you can just split the big circle in half and ask the two halves to join hands to make the circle.
  • Two circles can also be achieved by having row 1 turn around and then rows 1 and 2 form a circle. Very little foot movement is needed. Row 3 turns around and rows 3 and 4 form a circle.

Author: lbbartolomeo

I'm a mom, wife, teacher, reader, gardener, trekkie, sci-fi fanatic, musician, dog lover, and a Christian. I hope my contributions bring some joy and happiness to your life!

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