Saturday, September 24, 2011

Creating Learning Spaces

Our Starting Arrangement
Our Classroom
One of my first graders from last year stopped by yesterday on his way out the door.  "You've changed everything," he exclaimed as he stopped in to say hello.  After talking to him I was relieved to realize he didn't think it was better or worse --- just different.  It's true I've arranged a few things to create the spaces we'll need for learning.  Here are a few pictures from before school the year began.

Our Meeting Area
Our Meeting Area
The meeting area is by the chalkboard so I can add our word wall.  The magnetic surface makes this a great location for the words we are learning.

Math Area
Math Tools
I like to keep our math tools in a common place.  This place is perfect as traffic should flow relatively well when getting supplies and there is room to hang math related charts on the walls around the shelf.  A few book baskets with picture books about math help make the area ready for math learning.

Places for Collaboration
I'm most excited about this area.  Last year this lowered table was a hot spot for writing, reading, and working in small groups.  This year I wanted it by the window.  I had picked up a few stools at IKEA that are the perfect size for students.  They love reading, writing and working here.

Making use of both sides of easel
Rethinking Furniture
I've opened up the space behind my easel so I can use the back of the easel which I gleefully discovered is magnetic.  Oh, the possibilities.  Right now we are using it for a daily check-in question, but I think being able to use it for small group word work is another possibility.

To the left you will see our "island" in the middle of the classroom.  A colleague suggested I rethink this piece of furniture and I'm glad I did.  It is the perfect central location for supplies and recess games.  It is short enough that I still have visibility across the classroom.

Author Collection
Rethinking Spaces
I wasn't sure this space was going to work for me.  This piece of furniture is always difficult to place and, to be honest, I'm not overly crazy about it.  However, my students always love it.  Originally marketed for leveled text, I use it for author collections.  Every year kids pull up chairs to our author collections and read, read, read.  I've learned to like this piece of furniture and surprisingly I like it here.  First of all, I usually try to keep my tile clear.  It's a weird thing, I suppose.  However, I'm never crazy about furniture on the tile.  Secondly, I was worried about how this would work with traffic when it is time to clean up at the end of the day.  Actually it has slowed down movement as students clean up and is perfect.

I'm really excited about this open space our new arrangement created.  We have laptop carts we can bring to our classroom.  It is always quite congested when these carts are in the classroom.  This new space is right beside all of our plugs and internet connection places.  When I bring the carts into the classroom I can park them in this corner, plug everything in for students, and still have plenty of room to move around the classroom.

In the weeks to come the students will begin to shape the way these spaces look and are used.  Soon the walls will be covered with their thinking.  The charts we create as we learn together will begin to fill the walls.  When old students stop by I think they'll find things look different, not better or worse --- just different.


  1. Love the spaces and areas you've created!! Your students must love learning in your room each and every day!

  2. The spaces look so inviting. It will be even more exciting when your class fills it up with their work.

  3. This is very inspiring. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Cathy~
    Reading your post makes me want to jump in the van and go to school and move a few pieces. Generally I love my space and it works well for all. But openng up the back of the easel, using the lowered table as choice and slowing down traffic are all things I have been pondering in my space. Hmmm...