This is my first year teaching in our K-8 school. Our lab is currently arranged in 4 pods of 6 computers/pod + 2 extra computers along a wall. I have been told in the next two years we are going to rearrange the room since having the pods allows for students to use other programs than what we are working on (can only see 3-4 monitors at a time. My questions are: how are your labs arranged? What do you like/not like about this? What would your dream lab be?
Thanks for the help!

Tags: computer, lab, labs

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I teach in a primary school and have a Lab with 29 desktops – 4 rows of 6 and one row of 5. Any other configuration was out of the question because of lack of space. There is a 3.5m by 2m screen at the front of the room. We had a local builder make the benches and they have provision for power and network cables so that everything is safely tucked away. The benches are roomy enough to allow students to work together in twos or threes. We have adjustable chairs which meet the needs of all but the physically smallest students – their feet tend to dangle a little. I teach from the front third of the room. The LanSchool program makes my job a lot easier. It allows me to blank all screens during periods of instruction and at other times to view all screens from my laptop. I can also demonstrate directly on all screens, take over individual computers for personalized instruction or project a student’s work on to the large screen for the rest to see.
My lab is C-shaped. All the computers are lined up against the wall and come around to the door. I created a small gap to get to the smartboard and allow students to gather there if necessary. My desk is in the center of the room. I like this setup because it allows me to easily see what everyone is doing and there's lots of space in the middle of the room for me to add a table on each side and still have lots of floor space for students to work on building projects.

My only problem with this setup is that those students at the far end cannot see the projector screen. I am able to solve this problem by using the NetSupport program that allows me to show my screen on everyone else's computers but this method does not work well when you have teachers training in the lab.
I teach k-5 "Computer Skills" in a relocatable/portable. We have 28 computers, plus a teacher station, 2 printers, and a couple tables that hold various piles of more stuff.
The room is arranged much like 2 U-shapes. The teacher station is in the front center, and running backwards are 2 short (4 station) rows of computers. The ethernet and some electrical plugins are on the floor(I got powerstrips and mounted them to the underside of the table for better/safer power.)
Along the outside of the rooms are longer rows of computers, all connections on the wall.
I can generally see all but 4 computers. If I move to the other side of the teacher station I can see those but then lose another 4. Even when I'm wandering the room, I can see almost all stations.
Students have to turn 90° to watch demonstrations on the board up front, then turn back to their station to work.
It is quite a ways from the furthest computer to the whiteboard in front, but it's large most can see without difficulty.
Kathy, Lisa and Bob,
Thanks for your replies. It sounds as if your configurations are somewhat similar. When I started back teaching this year, I was leaning towards the perimeter seating arrangement. Now the principal and tech guy are talking about 3 rows. The draw back to this (that I can see) is that if I'm in the front of the room teaching, I can't see anyone's screen. I think I'll measure the room and see if perimeter will work today. At this point, I have no white board, but I do have an LCD projector that I use a lot. I like the u-shaped idea.
I appreciate all of your feedbacks.
Susie
We started our lab a couple of years ago, seating 24-26. I originally had the tables turned on an angle (kind of like sargent stripes in the army) facing the front where my desk sat. This year, however, we got power poles (no more cords on the floor!!!), so things had to be rearranged. One front row of 6 seats, second and third row each with 9-10 stations. All face the ActivBoard. The biggest problem is that kids have trouble seeing around the poles, which were placed down the center of the room. I currently get them started on the ActivBoard and then wander between the aisles keeping check on what's going on. Next year, I hope to get an ActivTablet so I can wander and work at the same time! Not exactly the optimal setup, but it works for us. I am always able to see who is watching my instruction and who is playing around instead. I won't start talking till I have everybody's "eyes on the front" -it's easy to spot those who are messing around elsewhere.
I don't use the lab much, I have 8 computers in my classroom and access to a cart with 16 laptops. All in all I have no complaints abot computer availibility for my program. I do have complaints about how our districts' labs are set up. If you stand in front of the lab you can't see the kids because the monitors block their heads, if you stand in the back of the lab you can't see their faces. I don't know what a perfect solution is for standard labs but I think those expensive desks with the monitors lying down in a V would be nice. Of course, nobody asked me!
Thanks everyone for your help. I have been told to design, get prices, etc. and maybe it will be done this summer. Not much time to work since school will be out in 2.5 weeks. I'm shopping online now. Does anyone have a preference for types of tables (I have desktop computers with full size monitors). What is your experience with the pull out keyboard trays, adjustable height tables, etc.?
In our schools we have been using computer desks from a company called Spectrum Industries. The desks bought 14 years ago are just like new. very sturdy and "kid proof". We have them in high school down to intemediate school ( they have different heights). We used to have pull out keyboard trays, but they removed them as they were always breaking or getting in the way. Some labs have adjustable chairs, but these generally have not held up as good as solid chairs. The desks are well worth the money spent on them, as we also had tables that were purchased a few years after the first desks, and they have now been replaced with the Spectrum Desks. Good luck.
A big catch with our k-5 computer lab is height of the tables. If I were to make it so the littler munchkins fit, the older ones couldn't fit at all. My tables are set so that almost all of the older ones can sit properly. Even the time or two I've had 6-8 graders in there, they've been able to get their feet under the table. The drawback is that often the little ones have to sit oddly, but then again, little ones are always moving, so it's not too bad.
I just have solid plastic school chairs, they seem ok.
We had a 'perimeter' lab and changed to a lab of three rows with an LCD projector and a screen at the front of the room. I find I now do most of my teaching from the back of the room using the projector and this works really well. This means that I can be in one spot and see everyones screen with out having to move around the room. Having the computers around the outside of the room meant that I could see the screens quite well, but during instruction or when I needed to demonstrate something, everyone had to move.
The room we built at our school works very well. The room is rectangular with the data projector screen on the long wall. There are two islands of 8 computers each and two lines of 4 on the short walls.


This shows the herring bone arrangement of the computers. The computers are all facing vaguely towards the front wall. Students at worst have to turn their head to the right or left to see the whiteboard or screen.

This shows half of what are joined together to make islands in the rest of the room. The screen is to the right of the computers. The desks in the first photo are just to the right of these desks.

Two long herring bone benches joined together to form an island. The bench at bottom-left is a work bench with no computer.

In this layout students have their own workspace, somewhat removed from the next student. There is still student interaction of course but far less distraction than previously, when students were sitting shoulder to shoulder and could reach out and touch each other's screen. A change that occured before the new room layout was introducing headphones. This dropped the noise level remarkably. We bought a large supply of cheap headphones but in hindsight it might have been better to purchase better quality ones because our children ate their way through many cables on the headsets effectively destroying them. Thicker cables would have helped.
where did you get these tables????

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