Pack of Cards Differentiated Seating Plan

So this year my new humanities faculty has a focus on differentiation and Growth Mindset as well as a personal focus on challenge and an exam results analysis which suggest B/C borderline needs to be a focus.  Sounds like many spinning plates doesn’t it? Well to me it is all going to ride on good differentiation so that everyone is challenged appropriately so that they don’t mind failing and learning  (sounds a bit Vygotsky to me!).

My first step is to change up my seating plan! For many years I was a big advocate of “The Horseshoe” as it aids discussion, a key feature of Psychology and Sociology. My mentors used it while I was training, every room I shared had it so I just always set it up that way. However I am coming around to groups more and more and have seen them used really well by a fantastic colleague in recent years. 

So this year, with a room move I have taken the plunge! I have set my room up in groups of 4.  Now for the differentiation part… on each table of 4 is a sticker with one of the suits in a deck of cards. 

I am planning to have students sat in broadly friendship groups as usual but their exact seat is determined by me so that each table has a mix of abilities.  However using the suits I can very easily split the class in half using red/black.  I can ask students to work in pairs on their tables in the same way.  I can also quickly group all hearts in the room, all spades, clubs, diamonds giving an opportunity to have students working in like ability groups with ease.

Any good ideas on seating plans for differentiation let me know!?



  1. Idea for differentiated seating plan for fours….
    Order your class in ability and split them into four groups. For each table Seat students like below

    person A is in your most able quarter
    Person B is in your 2nd most able group
    Person C is in the third quarter
    Person D is in the fourth quarter of students.

    We then use shoulder and face partners. Face partners allow students who are close in terms of ability range. Should partner allows there to be a student more able. This allows the opportunity to coach and mentor during a relevant task

    How this helps!

    1. Yeah we used this from Lagan strategies for a while too. I have played around with seating quite a bit over the past few years and I’ve settled back to the horseshoe for this year. I like the more cohesive group dynamic. I’ve found cliques form to easily with grouped tables. Although I have to say KS4 horseshoe isn’t great, doesn’t matter where I move them they can still see each other and chat!!

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