Look at your learning space with 21st-century eyes: Does it work for what we know about learning today or just for what we knew about learning in the past?
The Third Teacher , p.57
We asked a few Choice Literacy contributors and members to share their favorite spaces with readers. We hope you'll get some ideas for your own classroom design from these amazing teachers.
Donalyn Miller, 6th Grade Teacher and Author of The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child
One of the favorite parts of my room is our Reading Graffiti Wall. Students contribute quotes they love from books they read and use gel pens to write these quotes on black butcher paper. On more than one occasion, I have seen students choose books from the quotes their peers scrawl on the wall. Over the course of the year, the Reading Graffiti wall becomes a record of the books students have read and enjoyed throughout the year.
Here is the photo from last year with many quotes on it. Our new wall is mostly blankright now, since it is the second week of school.
Julie Johnson, 3rd Grade Teacher, Hilliard City Schools
I moved into a new classroom this year, so I had the opportunity to start all over again in designing my room. I thought a lot about what was most important to me. I knew I wanted a cozy place for the kids to gather where we could all sit in a big circle for whole class conversations. The classroom library was vital too. It had to be well organized, and accessible with room for kids to stretch out with a good book or their writers' notebooks. It seemed easiest to combine these two spaces.
As I arranged the room and put my belongings away in my new space, I focused first on the meeting area and getting my books organized. A lamp gives the area a homey feel, and of course I had to display some of my favorite books. I purposely did not put labels on the book baskets. My students would take ownership of the library when they would later decide on the category for each basket. I separated poetry, fiction and non-fiction sections to make it easier for students to find books. When that space was ready, I could thenmove on to the rest of the room and begin planning for my year.
I love this area. We meet there several times a day for conversation, content area work, read alouds, and minilessons. It is here that students can easily share their thinking with a partner or small group. Chart paper hangs nearby where we can record our thinking, and completed charts are then hung up around the room. My favorite use of the spot is during reading and writing workshop, when students are spread out on the floor or sitting on my blue chair totally engrossed in their books or working on a piece of writing. They are relaxed, focused, and finding joy in their learning.
Mary Lee Hahn, 4th Grade Teacher and Author of Reconsidering Read-Aloud
My favorite spot is where we collect our "juicy" words: the classroom mirror. This is the best solution for covering our classroom's mirror that I've ever come up with — "Reflect on These JUICY Words." The classroom assistant has a pad of sticky notes, and whenever anyone comes across a "juicy" word in the book they're reading or I'm reading aloud, in class discussion, or overheard in a conversation, they help the assistant put it on a noteand post it on the mirror.
Every so often, I type the newest juicy words onto a blank page in the SmartBoard software. This is our electronic Word Wall! I've made each of the words on the word wall a piece of movable text so that we can sort the words, looking for similarities and differences, categories, parts of speech, prefixes, and suffixes.
Soon we'll need to make a second page because we've collected so many words. I can't wait to see how this Word Wall project develops. Out of all the ways I've tried to integrate my new SmartBoard into my teaching, this is my favorite so far.
Katie DiCesare, 1st Grade Teacher in Dublin, Ohio
My favorite space is a table the kids see as they walk in the door of our classroom. I purchased the table at IKEA last year and used it as a place for kids to write, read or play math games. Last year, I left it empty. This year since it sits in a high traffic area, I beganto place items that we may be thinking about for awhile.
For the first few weeks of school, I placed the alphabet book Creature ABC and the many animals that kids will be playing with throughout the year. The kids have used the table as a space to read the book and talk about the animals, as well as to create a zoo with the blocks during choice time. Last week, I introduced patterning and students brought patterned items from home (pencils, towels, shirts, etc.). We kept them on the table before sharing them during math at the end of the week. Just seeing new items invited many connections and conversations. This week, we will be using the table to display our favorite books from home.
Mandy Robek, Kindergarten Teacher in Powell, Ohio
I love this space because it's versatile. The warm brown rug is inviting. It's surrounded with math manipulative tubs that are open, creating an invitation. There are opportunities for literacy with my math collection of books and texts related to art on the tall shelves to the right. I love having easy access to our drawing and writing area, and poetry binders to use in this space. We can also build here. We can read on the large pillows or bring big books over for some quiet time. There's a light table for two friends to work at with overhead manipulatives for math or literacy. There's also a fish tank for observations and more learning, and an area to display student work. Lots can happen inthis little space.
Teaching literacy is my favorite part of my day, and my classroom reflects this. When arranging my classroom I always consider literacy spaces first. This year, with new technology goals, I had to make our computers more easily accessible to students while still maintaining areas which are important for our community. I like our classroom to have a large gathering space, nooks for independent readers, spaces for pairs and small groups to work together. Though I have many more digital goals than in previous years, I still want students to be surrounded by books in the classroom. I also want there to be many spaces for writing, reading and creating.