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. Dear Psychopepper,

    I just wanted to say your site is fabulous and is giving me so much inspiration for my first year teaching year 12 psychology. I wondered if you would mind me asking if I could have more details on grassheads. I have printed the log book but can not get my head around page 8 ‘my classes data so far’. Can you explain how the students collect the data? are they measuring the grass growth and what is the best method? why are the grids 3 by 5; is there a specific reason? and what are the four answer boxes at the bottom for? I’m sorry but I just want to get this right for the students? I’m also uncertain about how to use the sampling page in terms of the colours and personalities. This probably all sounds really dim on my part but its such a fabulous idea that I just wanted as much detail as possible to do this project with my students.

    Thank you in advance.

    Best wishes,

    1. They pick the longest blade of grass and measure in mm. No reason other than space for the boxes it’s just a box per student in each group.

      When I get to sampling we do the different sampling techniques using the grassheads and I use the colours/personalities to show how we get bias in the samples.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.