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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Learning/Teaching Materials: The Long View

As I prepare for the BIG clean-up, I'm thinking about the materials that will matter for the long view--the books, art supplies, tools, and furniture that truly inspire a happy, engaged learning community.

While I have about 1,000 books in the room, students only access a few. Our library which is close by has 1,000's of wonderful up-to-date books. Therefore, I don't need 1,000 books in my classroom. Also, more and more, students and teachers will access books online. Online books take up less space and have many more options to assist readers. They're a lot less dusty too which is good for teachers like me who are sensitive to dust. So I'll hold on to about 100 books tops, and the rest will find another home.

I'll continue to keep a collection of professional books, whole-class book collections (multiple copies), and useful reference book collections that are especially useful for substitute lessons and individual student study use.

Art Supplies
As an educator who loves the arts, I will part with few art supplies, but instead I'll organize those supplies for easy access.

We still use quite a bit of paper in my class. Not as much as in the past, but we still use paper to draw diagrams, chart ideas, and write notes. I'll organize that paper in easy-to-access ways.

Decorative Materials
I have a large collection of international artifacts. I'll keep those as they engage students' hearts and minds as they think about our global community past and present. I also have some playful, colorful child-like objects that make the room cozy and inviting. I'll keep the best of those.

Charts and Posters
Many of these have outlived their use so I'll get rid of those. I'll keep a few that are up-to-date and helpful to the teaching/learning community.

Curriculum Materials
Almost all of my curriculum materials are accessible via websites on the Internet so I only need a bit of space to store remaining objects and materials.

This is an area of lots of plastic drawers and containers. I'll sort and organize those materials for upcoming STEAM exploration, investigation, and creativity. This will take up considerable space in the classroom.

Secure Materials
There still needs to be some space for secure files and materials.

Computer Carts
The computer supplies need to be stored in computer carts near plugs.

Book Cases and Containers
This is where the 100 books (more or less) will be stored.

I'll see if I can part with a few more pieces of old furniture to make more space for teaching and learning.

As teaching and learning change, the spaces we create and work in need to change too. As I think ahead about teaching teams and spaces, I think the spaces should mirror the learning/teaching focus. For example, perhaps a team of three teachers would have a STEAM/Science/Social Studies Room, a Math Lab, and a Reading/Writing Studio. That would provide more space for greater concentration and project work.

Our teaching/learning at elementary has deepened and this requires us to look at our teaching/learning spaces with new eyes and efforts.

I couldn't part with all those books, but decided that some will become part of unit boxes that are only shared with students when we study specific content units.