Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Classroom Set-Up

While my son's at camp today, I'm going to go into school and start the classroom set-up process.  "Everything in its place and a place for everything" will guide my work.  Classroom teachers deal with lots and lots of materials so it's essential that those materials are well organized in the confines of the classroom space.  Starting with a plan helps.

Classroom Library
Over the years, my classroom library has expanded to hundreds of beloved books.  Many of the books came from my own children's collections, and others have been bought or donated.  I will organize the books into the following sections:
  • Nonfiction: Arranged by topic.
  • Picture Books: Some will be added to unit boxes, others to author study bins and still more will be available for everyday reading.
  • Poetry: We start the year with our poetry unit so those will be on display.
  • Chapter Books: Arranged in bins by author and/or topic.
  • Reference Books: Sorted by topic and available in topic centers around the room.
  • Reference Charts: Related to comprehension strategies, literary genres, story elements.
  • Comfy Chairs: Some nice chairs that welcome students to this quiet area to read and think.

Topic Centers
I'll arrange materials related to specific topics in centers around the room.
  • Math Center
    • Vocabulary Board
    • Reference Charts
    • Computation Games/Flash Cards/Paper-Pencil Practice (in plastic file drawers)
    • Manipulatives
    • Reference Books/Related Picture Books

  • Writing Center
    • Dictionaries, Thesauri, Writing Reference Books
    • Paper (Located in wire paper baskets)
    • Reference Charts/Craft Vocabulary Board
    • Classroom computer storage area.

  • Theme Center: This area will be the focus area for current curriculum theme.
    • Book shelf to display books related to theme.
    • Table to show case theme-related items.
    • Bulletin board(s) to display student work, vocabulary and reference charts

  • Teacher Center
    • Plastic file drawers for personal items/professional papers.
    • Table for student edits.
    • Wooden shelves for reference books.
    • Supply corner: Unit containers, curriculum related books/materials stored in back corner.

  • Presentation Place
    • Document camera
    • Display boards for posters, images, charts, schedule.
    • Interactive White Board

  • Student Organization (specific spaces marked w/#s, each student is assigned a #)
    • Student mailboxes
    • Class News Board
    • Project Cubbies
    • Student desks - arranged in amphitheater arrangement (rows of three or four) facing display space.
    • Student project work display board(s).
    • Hooks for backpacks, coats and boots.
  • Meeting Place
    • An area of the room will be set aside for open circle and read aloud meetings--a space separate from the desk area.  
Welcome/Start-of-Year Displays
  • What's Your Culture? Bulletin Board:  Display space for culture flags, culture concept sentence strips.
  • Student-Created/Purchased Anchor Charts: Related to Patterns of Thought/Action for Lifelong Learning.
  • Birthday Graph: Students create their own "birthday cake" symbol and place it on the birthday pictograph.
  • Biodiversity/Animal Adaptation Center

Every teacher knows that the classroom set-up is a time-consuming task, and there's not one way to do it.  We've got a couple of prep days before the school year begins, but those are usually consumed by scheduling, planning and prep meetings.  

Once I finish the process, I'll take a few pictures and add them to this post. In the meantime, please comment about what's important to you about your classroom set up and organization.  Creating an optimal space for student learning is essential to doing the job well, and every teacher utilizes a number of effective strategies to personalize and optimize this effort.