Sunday, September 19, 2010

Setting Up a New Classroom: Got Design Ideas? Part II

Decided on a U shape for the Benefit of Kids' Presentations

Way back in July, when I was pondering the task of setting up my new classroom, I reached out via Twitter to my amazing network of educators around the world and asked for help. On the Voicethread and in written comments here, many insightful "tweeps" gave me input on how to set up the room.

Here are some pictures that show my room as it is right now, along with the rationale for my set-up.
Our  "Best Writing" Display and Small Group Table
 As you can see from the pictures, I ended up using a "U-Shape" configuration. When I tried to put desks in groups of four, it was difficult for me to imagine how students could focus on the person talking if they couldn't see that person's face.  Before anyone thinks that my rationale for this desk arrangement is so I can be the "Sage on the Stage," rest assured that this is not the reason for my decision! Although it can be tricky to refocus conversation and keep kids following their own rule of "One person talks at a time," this configuration supports my goal for students to be active listeners and "question askers" when they present to each other.  This configuration also allows us to come to the carpet for discussions; I am working on getting some cushions or small mats so that the scratchy carpet isn't a problem.

  When my students work in small groups and with partners, they have options to work around the room and even just outside the room where there are picnic tables. They aren't sitting in this U-shape configuration for a good portion of the day, but when they are  it is very helpful that each student can always look at the person who is talking.

The purple stability balls are working out very well! I got the idea from someone on Twitter; sorry I can't remember who, but they mentioned a Minnesota study where kids actually focused and performed better on classwork when using the balls.  Each day, four students have the option of using the ball as their chairs. They love the movement and tilting that the ball allows; of course when the bouncing is a distraction for me or other students, they lose their ball privilege. So far, no one has lost their ball!
The Cabinets Store our Four Computer Workstations and Make Great Display Space!

Finally, in the far corner, which you can almost see in the picture below,  I moved one of the bookcases from the opposite end of the room, to make a nice reading area. With four beanbags there, and limited space, you can imagine that the beanbags often migrate to the big space in front of our desks during our D.E.A.R. time!
The window ledge is a great space for supplies and display space for projects. Our "Me Wordles" hang on the windows.
Once again, I send a heartfelt thanks for all who commented and supported me in my big transition to a new school and new grade level. Do you have any comments or questions now? Please share in the comment box below!


April Brown said...

Joan, it looks really nice. You've got some great light coming in through those windows. I'm sur the kids love coming in everyday. It also looks like a lovely place to work.

Lori Sabo said...

Love the balls! At my old school we replaced all the chairs in the computer lab with them. Everyone's posture improved! I love that they allow legal wiggling. Your room looks great!

Angela Watson said...

I've read that Minnesota study and found it fascinating. You're the first teacher I've known who was brave enough to try the exercise balls! So glad to hear it's working out well! :-)

Joan Young (aka Mancini) said...

Thanks so much April,Lori,and Angela for your comments. Yes, the light is really nice and the balls are definitely a big hit. I expected lots of questions about them at Back to School Night, but was so busy talking about other things, didn't even get a chance to talk about them. I am fortunate to work at a wonderful school where innovative ideas are embraced.

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of the exercise balls. I haven't heard of that yet. In my class, I am afraid to try new innovations. I'm new to the profession. I need some advice.