Thursday, August 25, 2011

Moving rooms

This year I am moving from one room to another room. It was an unexpected move for me, so I was not completely packed up for it. It can be a bit overwhelming to set up your room at the beginning of the year, and even more when it is a new room.

Where am I going to put my desk? How will the students be grouped? Where will they get their supplies? How will my books be set up?

Here are some of the things I thought about in terms of setting up my room:

1. Teacher space and materials
I want to make sure that I am not taking up too much space. I like to put my desk in the back of the room, or behind the students so I can see them while I am sitting at my desk. (Also, I almost never sit at my desk . . . so I want it out of the way.)

Who can touch things on your desk? Do you want your students to hand in their assignments at your desk or at another place? Which is going to help you stay on top of grading and keep your desk as organized as you want it to be? I use boxes at different places in the room for turn in.

Where will you set up your teacher materials for different subjects? I tend to put all of my teachers guides out of the way, except for the units I am using. I put the unused units up high or somewhere so they do not take up valuable real estate at eye level!

2. Meeting spaces
Where are you going to have a whole group meeting space? How are you going to define this space? I like to use a carpet to define my whole group meeting space. I even have 5th and 6th grade students meet at the carpet.

Where are you going to do small group instruction? I want to make sure that the students who are meeting in a small group have their back to their classmates and that I can see them. I define these areas before moving on.

3. Classroom library
The more students have access to books, the more they will read. I like to take a tip from booksellers and have my books facing cover out. I put them in boxes that are labeled by subject. (I will take some pictures of this, once I have everything set up!)

What sort of system will you use? Will it be subject based, or will your library be skill based? How will it be organized so your students can do the upkeep?

4. Student materials
Will students keep their materials at their desks or in common areas. I actually advocate for common areas and clear routines on how to pick up materials. Why? Because, your students need to have good reasons to move. We all get a little brain dead when we have to sit for long periods of time.

I like to have a bookshelf right by the door that has all sorts of equipment - like glue, scissors, paper, reading logs, writing logs etc. This way the supplies are easy to get while walking into the classroom.

For math, I put all of the manipulatives that my students will use into plastic storage boxes. Each pair of two students shares the box. In the bags are base ten blocks, pattern blocks, rulers, calculators, a clock etc. On the lid there is a printed paper that has an inventory list. The students use the same set of boxes for the entire year and they are neatly stored in the front of the room.

If you would like to learn more about organizing, check out the class on Organizing From the Inside Out.

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