Sunday, August 16, 2009

Building a Classroom that Works

Setting up an engaging classroom environment may sound like one of those tasks akin to rearranging your living room. In some ways, it is remarkably similar, evaluating factors such as lighting, air temperature, traffic flow, physical dimensions of space/fitting in the furniture, noise level, and optimal viewing of any screens. In others ways it can be much more complicated, as a classroom is a relatively small space for 20-30 students to spend 6 hours each day, engaged in learning through listening, speaking, writing, reading and many other activities. This year, many teachers like myself are anticipating an increase in enrolled students and must make accommodations. One of the strategies that helped me most in envisioning the best use of my space was to take before and "in progress" classroom layout photos.
As I reviewed my progress in setting up my classroom, I have decided to change a few things, moving furniture to optimize students' ability to view the teaching walls, moving computer desks up to the wall to increase space for student movement, and hanging signs to clearly label the various activity and curricular areas of the classroom. I am also working on designing some sort of paper holder for student chairs so that I can eliminate my wire racks that have worked well but take up flow/floor space.
What are the key factors that affect your classroom layout? How will you fit in more students (if necessary) without compromising comfort and efficiency?

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