Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year, A New Arrangement

In August  
You might remember this empty-walled picture in August as I arranged the classroom for a new community of learners.  A few days ago I forced myself out of my house to go to school for a little winter cleaning.  It seemed necessary with a new year to rearrange furniture for a new look.  However, I really loved this last arrangement.  Traffic flowed.  There were small spaces, large spaces, quiet spaces, playful spaces.  Why change something that works?  Who knows...

My daughter, who was there to provide moral support and prepare for her upcoming student teaching advised me to leave it alone if it works well, but I could not.  Students will enjoy coming back to a little change.  So I started moving furniture.  I moved and moved and moved furniture.  Hours later I had an arrangement I think will work.

Some Considerations
The Heart of the Room:  The center of the classroom should be something that gets at the heart of the community.  The small table in the middle of the room is everyone's favorite spot to work.  This space fills quickly across all workshops.  This is also a favorite table for collaborative work.  I wrestled with moving this table away from the window, but I think students will enjoy having it right in the center of everything.

Quiet Places to Work:  In our community we talk about the level of sound we like for reading, writing, learning, and playing.  I believe students learn best by talking to one another.  They can often help each other out without needing me to interfere.  For this reason, we spend a lot of time talking about when to talk, where to talk, and what level our voices should be in respect to other learners.  Across years this looks and sounds different.  There are some children who prefer quiet to work and learn.  For this reason, I try to create spaces like this one which naturally filter the noise and movement of the classroom.  I tucked this table between a corner and a shelf to provide a quiet place for students.

Spaces for Collaboration:  I spread the tables out for students to work collaboratively in small groups.  In the previous arrangement I had many tables linked together or against furniture making it hard for students to work and talk in groups.  (Yes, there are still a few linked.  It's hard to create an arrangement that doesn't feel heavy in tables.)  Spreading the tables out around the room should allow small groups to talk together without interrupting other groups.

Spaces for Play:  In Ohio, we seem to spend a lot of time indoors at recess.  The months of December to February seem to be filled with an overabundance of inside recess days.  For this reason, I wanted to create spaces where students could build, play games, and create in small groups all around the room.  Spreading the tables out helped to create more large areas of floor space for students to play and work.

Technology:  In this arrangement I wanted to maintain a place to easily plug in laptop carts and connect to the network.  I left space near the computers to make this easier.  Additionally, many students use voice recording to publish their work digitally.  For this reason, I moved the tall shelf behind a set of computers (see NOW picture above) to help maintain a quieter space for speaking.  This shelf should also help when students are using the webcam for pictures and video as it will filter the movement in the classroom as well.

Books:  One of the things I try to do is keep books around the classroom.  I like us to be surrounded by the words of authors all day.  Having books in all areas of the classroom also helps during reader's workshop as it is easier for students to spread out to read near collections of books.  You'll see books on the wall shelves (most all of our shelving is here).  I have added books to the shelf near the computers, above the math tools, in our meeting area and near the window.  Getting out the collection of winter books made my day!  I can't wait to share these titles with the readers in our classroom.

So the room is clean.  The furniture is rearranged.  New supplies await.  Looking forward to a "new start" in our learning community.  Should be fun.


  1. Just the inspiration I need, this is my plan for tomorrow! Your room looks FANTASTIC! Tell me you stepped across the hall and shared your magical thoughts and talents...?

  2. Jealous! I am so envious of all the thought you have put into your classroom. That was on my list for the holiday break and I didn't make it. I always like to move things around when my students come back. I believe it helps me as well as my students. Thanks for sharing your thinking and possibly tomorrow I will be in my classroom with my daughter who is going to start student teaching in two weeks. Happy New Year! Excited to continue our conversations in 2012.

  3. One day into the new year... and you've already inspired me! I'm in that exact same boat where you were. I love how my classroom looks right now.. but I'm wrestling with the idea of changing it! I think this might be just the push I needed!

  4. Deb, I'm glad you like it. You'll be the one that will get to hear me whine about it if it doesn't work well. :o)

    Maria, I think we live parallel lives. I'm always amazed by how much we have in common. I can't wait to hear all about your daughter's student teaching experience.

    Laura, I took a picture of the old arrangement. I may want to use that again---or go back to it! It was energizing to move things, and it made me have to clean a few piles I'd been letting stack up.


  5. Wow! All I was able to manage for a "fresh start" for the new year was to take down some old student work from the walls to make room for new work. I love the new arrangement.