Group Formations: Pros, Cons, and Strategies
For students who feel vulnerable in the spotlight, try a low-focus formation like dispersed (i.e. “Pick a spot in the room.”) or a circle (i.e. “You can even try facing outward!”).
When you want to foster peer-to-peer collaboration and allow everyone to feel seen and heard, try small groups or partners.
For residencies, test out a few formations in your early classes–as well as the placement of the adults in the room–to see how your students respond.
Students meet in a circle or semi-circle formation either seated or standing.
Dispersed activities refer to any formation in which students are scattered throughout the space. This can be static (i.e. every student finds their own spot in the space) or can be active (i.e. students moving throughout the space).
At Tables or Desks
Students explore an activity individually, or in small groups from their desk spots (depending on the current set up). Even during collaborative projects, independent work time can be useful.
This refers to anytime students are seated in one position facing an open area. The open area can either be a playing/sharing space or a means to focus on facilitators who are instructing from the open area. Variations on this formation include students in a semi-circle, which merges some of the benefits of a circle formation with an audience/playing space.
Other variations for dance include dance lines facing one direction or across the floor activities.
This formation is characterized by dividing small groups of students into different areas of the space. This can be adapted into a station format, where students remain in a small group but rotate throughout the room to interact with different prompts or assignments. This formation is often helpful in times of devising or group-making.
This formation is characterized by giving students a single partner to work with. This can refer to moments when students have a partner and find their own space in the room OR when students are in two lines facing one another.