The paradox of life lies exactly in this: its resources are finite, but it itself is endless. Such a contradictory state of affairs is feasible only because the resources accessible to life can be used over and over again.
I am fascinated by the ways teachers repurpose items to solve problems of space and light in classrooms. I saw a perfect example of this during a recent visit to classrooms in Oregon. The beauty of Katrina Edwards’ first-grade classroom also posed a dilemma. An entire wall was filled with seven-foot-high windows, looking out on a lovely forest and lawn. This is where Katrina put her meeting area and classroom library, so students could work together and listen to minilessons in the sun-dappled space.
But many of those minilessons also included instruction with video examples of children at work. “I knew I needed a screen in that space, but I didn’t want to have a white wall dedicated to occasional instruction.” Her solution? Katrina bought curtain backing, which has an off-white matte finish. She hooked the backing on the rod over the windows. When she needs a screen, she pulls it over the window and voila! Katrina can project anything she wants with an LCD. As soon as she is finished, she pulls it out of the way, and students are treated again to the lovely view of the woods and sunshine. Total cost? About $10. I can imagine some school supply company putting this out as a product and charging hundreds of dollars for the same item.
During the same visit, I also noticed four exercise balance discs sitting on a bench. These are used by trainers in gyms everywhere to torture their clients. I asked Katrina how she used them. “Kids love to sit on them! They are a great way for children who are squirmy to get their wiggles out in a contained space during a small group or minilesson.” The discs are also inexpensive — you can often find them on sale for $12.
I am amazed by the ways teachers are able to take items from one context and find new uses for them in the classroom. It happens because they are always carrying the needs of students in their mind, and they are pretty ingenious at imagining creative solutions to almost any problem.
This week we look at the creative ways teachers repurpose household or obsolete items for use in classrooms. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
Free for All
[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links, follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ChoiceLiteracy or Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/choiceliteracy/]
Katie Doherty cleans out her garage and finds some items for creating cozy reading spaces in her middle school classroom:
In this two-minute video, Joan Moser shares a tool teachers can create for their classrooms to keep Big Books, charts, and laminated large materials organized:
Recycle and repurpose materials for your classroom all summer long with these ingenious ideas:
For Members Only
Jennifer Schwanke cleans out a school storage area, and with advice from teachers discovers new purposes for old items she was about to discard:
Katie DiCesare repurposes materials for her first graders to play with, and finds that encouraging play early in the year is a great tool for building reflection skills:
Dana Murphy continues her series on getting to know writers early in the year. In this week’s installment, she explains how to use a simple six-question survey to help teachers and students explore differences in writing routines and habits:
This week’s video is another installment in our summer book talk series. Christy Rush-Levine previews Trouble by Gary D. Schmidt for her middle school students:
In an encore video, “The Sisters” (Gail Boushey and Joan Moser) show the many creative and low-cost ways a colleague displays books with discarded and repurposed supplies to build interest in literacy.
That’s all for this week!