I’ve finally got my classroom in order, which is good since the kids are coming tomorrow.
Let’s revisit my priorities this year. I wanted a flexible learning space that allows students multiple different seating options. These are:
- Floor space
- Window space (remember that ledge from before?)
- Standing space
- More traditional desk/table space
- More relaxed seating options (couch, chair, beanbag, etc.)
I wanted space for students to work independently, in small groups (2-3), in larger groups (up to 6, for guided reading or guided math), and a place for us to meet as a whole group.
So let’s take a look…
I projected different Adventure Time images and traced them onto paper. That’s how I got that crazy image of Jake the Dog and the Adventure Time logo on the cloud. This is great because it allowed me to edit out the sword that’s typically in the logo.
Let’s take a look inside:
This is a good overview of the classroom from the door. You can see most of the desks are in groups of three to allow for small group collaboration. I also got a deal on a used couch and painted a coffee table my husband had inherited from one of his friends during his bachelor days.
To the left:
Because I’m not assigning desks (in fact, I’m just shy of having enough desks for every student, and one is being used as pencil sharpening station), I needed another place for students to store their stuff. These cubbies are color coded by group (there are even more on the other side of the closets), as are the handles to the closets. Color coding with duct tape is one of my favorite things.
Each cubby has the workbooks purchased by the district and a clipboard (jk, I’m actually 3 clipboards short, but I’m hoping to pick these up throughout the year). Clipboards were donated by my mother, who has trouble getting rid of things that are perfectly fine unless she knows they’re going to a good home. I’m glad my classroom qualifies. The clipboards were really important to me since I know I wanted the kids to have the option of working on the carpet, standing up, whatever.
You can also see my gray filing cabinet. This holds all of my resources, sorted by unit, student paperwork, etc. It will also house my desk during the day when it’s plugged up to the interactive whiteboard (thus all the cords). These three desks here are meant to be independent workstations. Next to the cubbies are some of those cardboard cubicles, so students can create privacy, as desired.
The desk up front that’s currently holding boxes of student portfolios (more on this approach once I see if it actually works) is intended as a timeout desk.
The green bulletin board will house my math interactive word wall. The bulletin boards on the front of the closets will become a shrine to the tested seven literacy skills. Basically, each closet door will include an anchor chart of the skill, a graphic organizer (or multiple, if necessary), and question stems. This is going to be a MUCH bigger version of my graphic organizer wall last year.
Rotating to the right a little…
Here you can see all the small group “tables”. I have 4 groups of 3 desks, which should be good for small groups. You can also see the coffee table which will work as a small group and/or independent workstation as well. On the far right, there’s a group of 6 desks, which is intended for interventionists and other faculty pushing in to help meet the needs of these students.
You can also see 3/4 of my gorgeous windows. These are my favorite part of my room. While they make for some crumby photos, they face South, allowing us to avoid using fluorescent lights most days.
You can also see my classroom library in the far corner. Here’s a closer view…
This green bulletin board will have my ELA interactive word wall. Current anchor charts will hang on the blank wall by the windows.
The baskets are organized by reading level from A to U+, with some reading levels being grouped together. While my library is certainly a work in progress, I’m pleased that levels L-P (“on grade level” is M-P) all get their own baskets, so I think I’m moving in the right direction. Additionally, the big white bins house the content library (Fables, Science, Social Studies, and then a bin of fun books). And the latest addition to the library is the small blue bin on the left. This houses my small, but growing, collection of Spanish language books. Since I have 2 students who have been in the country less than 1 year, I’m excited to have this.
You can also see my color coded book boxes. These are the Ikea boxes everyone is always talking about. I picked them up sometime last year, because I knew I was going to be moving towards book boxes sooner or later, and our nearest Ikea is 3 hours away.
The two sets of rolling drawers (purchased over the last few years from big lots) will hold my word work activities and a few other independent activities (vocabulary puzzles, VersaTiles). The paper organizer on top of the bigger one will hold various types of paper (lined, scrap, copy) as well as handouts (graphic organizers, reading passages, etc.).
Since this is also my whole group meeting space, you can also see my Ikea easel. I love this easel. Seriously, the best $15 I ever spent last year. I use it when I’m making anchor charts, doing number talks, modeling anything. It’s got a whiteboard on one side, chalkboard on the other. I don’t use the chalkboard, but I do use the inexpensive paper roles frequently.
From the front of the classroom looking back (door is to the right in this picture)…
Here’s my guided reading table, and my back cabinets. These cabinets will be filled with literacy anchor charts, specifically ones that support guided reading, so the students will be able to use them during guided reading.
This area also doubles as my teacher “desk”. The counter has all of the resources I need at my fingertips, while the cabinets and drawers have all sorts of other resources (books, paper, pencils, etc.) that we’ll need throughout the year. The book boxes will be used to hold the resources for each guided reading group.
Another shot of the guided reading area, this time from the door.
The double sided shelf holds all of our math manipulatives and games. It will also function as a “standing desk”, since it’s just the right height for most of my kiddos. Just beyond that, you can barely see a lone desk that has my sharpening station. And below the full length windows is the ledge my kids love to sit and work at.
So let’s talk structures for a moment…
The first week of school, I’m going to force my kids to try every different workstation in the classroom. And then I’m going to force them to reflect on their learning in each of those workstations. I’m hoping this will guide them in making good choices in the future.
Each of the workstations has a small tin (thanks, Target dollar spot) filled with highlighters, red pens, sticky notes, and index cards. Pencils will be communal, which I generally dislike. I just couldn’t see a way around it without giving the kids desks to hold the pencils in.
Now, let’s talk cost…
Easel, book boxes, book baskets, metal paper organizers (2 in teacher area, one in library), and plastic drawers were purchases from previous year.
Coffee table and the rug it’s sitting on came from mine or my husband’s young single days (here’s where I love my husband’s hoarding tendencies… and our large attic).
- Couch: $40 (thrift store)
- Spray paint to refinish coffee table (2 cans of blue, 1 can of sealant): $12 (Lowe’s)
- Large dish pans (4): $12 (Big Lots)
- Small green and blue plastic bins (6): $18 (Big Lots)
- Drawer organizers (6 small, 1 large): $9 (Big Lots for the pencil baskets, Target for big organizer for my stuff)
- Supply tins (7): $7 (Target)
And we’re done. For just about $100.
Will report back on the efficacy of all these changes.