Monday, October 13, 2014

Classroom Setup, Plus Some Little Miss Muffet

As I've been wrapping my brain around this new way of incorporating more technology into my classroom and making it more 21st century friendly, the first thing I thought about was the way my room was set up.

This year I have 24 students.  For our building and district, this is quite large for first grade.  This is the largest class I've ever had.  I had 4 groups of 6 desks and I hated it.  I hated every second.  I am SO not a put-them-in-rows girl, either.  Don't get me wrong, I liked that they were in groups, but that was kind of the only thing.  Our rooms are kind of small, so I felt like the students and I had no space to maneuver around the room.  It was so cramped and there wasn't any good flow.  Here are other issues I had with desks:

- They kept moving, which means the groups would clump up even more, limiting space EVEN MORE.
- The students would play in their desks when they were supposed to be doing something else because the stuff inside was a constant distraction.  Let's face it...they could hide tons of stuff in there!
- Their stuff could get so disorganized and messy.  They could keep millions of papers just stuffed in there or paper scraps or leftover breakfast (truth.).
- They were crammed right next to each other which meant they had a neighbor practically on top of them that they could talk to!  Arg.

This is what my room looked like before.

So I ditched the desks.  One morning my students walked in and they were just gone.  It's how I roll.  I'm not afraid to change things, even if it's the second day of school, middle of the year, or 2nd to last day of school.  If it doesn't work, change it!  That's my philosophy.  ;)

At first I had NO desks and NOTHING to replace it.  Then I slowly added things as I saw what worked.  I now have 3 tables.  That means I only have enough for about half of my class.  But stick with me...

You'll probably notice I added a black rug in the middle as an extra space for students to sit and spread out.

I also added a couch.

My school also purchased plastic lap desks from Hobby Lobby for the students to use around the room.  They LOVE these things!  So do I!

I also have a crate full of clipboards that the students can use around the room.

One of my fears when I first decided to do this was where to put all of their things.  I just did some reorganizing to make some space!  I had these book boxes from Really Good Stuff, so the students just store their workbooks, textbooks, and folders in them.  I have them numbered with their numbers so that they have their own individual box.  They are pros at finding their things!  They store their school boxes on the shelf underneath when they aren't using them.  During the day they just keep them near their workspace as long as they are out of the way and nobody can trip over them.

The biggest thing about this room layout is student choice.  It's all about what is comfortable for them.  For some teachers, this might drive you crazy.  This might be a little bit too lax and not be enough structure.  I totally respect that.  I read somewhere to think of it like walking into Starbucks to study.  For me, I completely prefer that environment.  I love that they have couches, tables, comfy chairs, high-top chairs at a bar, and traditional tables.  Depending on my mood that day, any one of those might suit my needs.  To be honest, most of my students sit on the floor, on the couch, at a table, and curled up on a rug with a pillow all in one day.  Can I be honest?  Sometimes I work at my desk in my office.  Right now I'm laying on my stomach in my bed.  I feel more relaxed and I feel a little more creative.

Some students need more guidance.  It's true.  You just have to pay attention to your students and help them.  You're their coach.  Their guide.  Their mentor.  Their teacher.  I'm just a firm believer in options.

I'll be back next week to share how our RTI time works, but before I go today I want to share what we did today!

Our first grade does a nursery rhyme study.  I like to take them as deep as I can with nursery rhymes, since they are something they've been exposed to in preschool and in their homes when they are little.  I found a wonderful resource from Teaching In High Heels called Close Reading for Little Learners {Nursery Rhyme Edition}.  I'm sure you've come across close reading, but in case you haven't, close reading is big in Common Core standards.  It's taking the text and looking at what's explicitly written.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Today we looked at Little Miss Muffet.  I popped it up on the screen and we began to dissect the text.  Can you believe this is what they started saying:

"Hey, this is really fun!"

Seriously.  My kids love learning this year.  They love writing.  They LOVE close reading.

We have to teach our own art, so I tied in a quick little spider craft to go along with Little Miss Muffet.  Paper plates, black paint, 1-inch wide construction paper legs, google eyes, and chalk to draw faces...voila!

I'll be back Wednesday with an exciting post/announcement!!!

1 comment:

  1. I might be a little behind on my blog reading (my feed was out of control!). I L-O-V-E your new classroom layout! I'm sure your kiddos are appreciating your flexibility in allowing them to sit where they feel they learn best. I might get there in the next few months. I can currently experiencing my smallest class ever (I had 24 last year), and I can totally see this working, especially this year. Thanks for helping me "think outside the box." Can't wait to hear more about your adventures this year. I loved the videos you shared about 21st century. Have a great week!