Archive for the ‘Classroom makeovers’ Category

Here are some pictures of the “after” photos of the classroom I set up after school yesterday. As part of the training on small group reading instruction, we looked at how to set up a classroom a la  my book, Spaces and Places. One of the teachers there talked to me at the break and explained that she was graduating from college on Friday (this week!) and starting in her first teaching job next Monday. She wondered which space she should focus on setting up first. I always recommend planning classroom spaces on paper before moving any furniture. So, I told her I’d help her for a little bit after class.

We drove several miles to her new school, and the teacher whose class she’s taking over was gracious enough to let us plan and move the furniture. Less than 2 hours later, the new look was taking shape.

10 after Callahan Paige in whole group with tech center in corner(1)

The “new” whole group area (with tech in the corner)

caption 2: the "new" small group area (by the built-in shelves which are perfect for storing small group materials)

The “new” small group area (by the built-in shelves which are perfect for storing small group materials)

12 after Callahan new library

The “new” classroom library with books graciously donated by the teacher who is leaving to teach P.E. We moved and reconfigured the bins and shelves from a different part of the room.

Read Full Post »

I received some great classroom photos recently from Sharon Davis, a teacher in Scranton, PA. She sent these at the beginning of the school year and said that she will continue to make improvements and changes as the year goes on. What changes have you made in your classroom spaces now that you’ve been using them for a few weeks? What’s working? What’s not? Leave a comment or send photos to d.diller@live.com

This is the word wall above the writing station in Sharon's classroom

This is the new library complete with picture labels.Sharon is looking for the right rug.

Sharon made a skirt for the small group area. She loves using this place for small group and store all of her materials behind the table.

Read Full Post »

As I wrote this week in my “Month of Giving” post on Facebook, I’m setting up a 2nd grade classroom library. This classroom is in an old, poorly lit portable building. Not done yet, but here is a before picture and the first few photos I’ve taken. Love the new seats made from crates with cushions on top. Added white plastic shelves from WalMart and dollar store baskets. Books must still be sorted and labeled. More to come…


Asma's library before

New seats and shelves in Asma's library

Read Full Post »

 One Saturday this fall I worked with early childhood educators at Hearne Elementary in Hearne, TX to help them use resources they already own to create literacy work stations in their classrooms. As part of the day, we did a classroom makeover.

Bethany, a kindergarten teacher, volunteered her room. In one hour, we redesigned her environment and moved all the furniture to create more space for her students. As described in my book, Spaces & Places, we mapped out the important areas in her classroom first, thinking carefully about where to situate each. Then everyone pitched in and we moved things around using the map. It was a bit like an Amish barn-raising, where we all worked together. As the photos show, we got rid of unnecessary furniture that was taking up room for children. Here are a few before and afters:

BEFORE: several pieces of furniture block the classroom entry


AFTER: after moving furniture, the classroom entry is now inviting

BEFORE: looking to the right from the entry computers line the wall

AFTER: now the right-hand wall will be used for a word wall and a writing stations; computers were moved to a location that won’t distract young children during whole group

BEFORE: back wall is covered by portable cubby units

AFTER: back wall now houses a science station at a low table under a window and computer stations

Teachers work together to move furniture in Bethany’s room

Read Full Post »

Recently, I began working with a wonderful first grade teacher in Houston ISD. We looked at what he’s teaching about high frequency words and beginning sounds. I made some suggestions to maximize his resources and help children make connections with what he’s teaching. Here are some before and after photos:

Before: The sound cards he's teaching with were posted high on a wall in the order they were introduced. It will be hard for kids to access these after a bunch are introduced.

Before: Words were placed on cabinet doors in the back of the classroom. They were far away from the whole group teaching area, and it could be hard for some kids to connect to. There was a mixture of high frequency words and other vocabulary.

After: The word wall has been moved to a wall beside the whole group teaching area. Sound cards have been added to the word wall to make stronger connections and for ease of use by the children. Only high frequency words are placed on this wall

Read Full Post »

Yesterday in Rolla, MO several teachers asked me how to keep classroom libraries organized. As I wrote about in Literacy Work Stations on p. 31, I recommend that you do this by setting up the library with your students. This is great to do early in the school year.

Start with empty bookshelves. Clear a shelf at a time, if you’d like. I like to have the whole class sort and organize the books into two piles– fiction and nonfiction. Seat your class in a circle on the floor. Then think aloud about what makes a book fiction (made-up story, characters and setting, problem and solution…) and what makes a book nonfiction (facts, photos, true information). Place labels (index cards work well) for FICTION and NONFICTION on the floor and show kids how to sort the books into these two piles. Pass out several books to two children at a time. Ask them to look at the book together and determine if it’s ficiton or nonfiction. Then go around the circle, have the pairs tell which kind of book theirs is, and have them put it into the appropriate pile. This may take several class periods to accomplish. Store the books in labeled boxes each day. After the books are sorted into fiction and nonfiction, work together to sort the nonfiction books into smaller groups. Children will come up with ideas, such as weather books, animal books, poetry books, and people books. Make category cards for labeling the classroom library baskets. Add illustrations. (I like to use Google images.) Likewise, sort the fiction books into groups with the children. These may be sorted by author, genre, easy-to-read, chapter books, leveled books, etc. You might designate one classroom library area for fiction and another for nonfiction.

In upper grades, you might want to add genre posters to your classroom library as you teach different genres. You can find wonderful genre posters on this website. I’d love to hear about and see your classroom library! Send pictures to d.diller@live.com.

Read Full Post »

Makeover at the gym

Recently the gym in my neighborhood was remodeled. All the hand weights were put on a rack in a closet, but nobody was putting them back in any sort of order. As you can imagine, this was driving me crazy! The way I see it, the weights needed to be organized because we were using them in a strength training class. So, I talked with the instructor and then the health club director. They both agreed that it was a good idea to do something with those weights. In Spaces & Places form, I put like things together and then added labels! Here you’ll see part of the transformation. 

When I went to the gym on Saturday, everyone told me how much they loved the weights being so easy to find… just like materials in a classroom!

Disorganized weights

The bands were also all mixed up

Now the appropriate weights are easy to find

Doesn't this look much better?

Read Full Post »

We ended our week of training in Humble ISD with the training that everyone wants at this time of year… how to set up your classroom space to maximize instruction! It’s the popular Spaces & Places training we do, based upon my book of the same title.

Teachers worked together mapping their classroom spaces on paper and were inspired to clean up their closets and get organized as the school year begins.

You might want to check out the Spaces and Places blog that Stenhouse Publishers has set up at www.flickr.com. Just look for the Spaces and Places group. You can post your own pics of your classroom, or check out what others are doing as they set up their classrooms. It’s a great site, and it’s free!

Teachers share what they’re thinking about as they prepare to set up their classrooms for the new school year

Teachers work with colleagues, mapping out their spaces on paper first

One teachers’s notes on where she'll put the whole group area

Teachers share ideas during the workshop

Here is another group of teachers sharing their thoughts

Read Full Post »

I was working in Missouri when one day I watched two teachers walk through the gym carrying red furniture on their heads. “Where are they going?” I wondered. So I followed them down the hall with my camera, curious to see where they were going.

They ended up in kindergarten. Turns out they were moving furniture from one building to another, since all the kindergarten classrooms are being redistributed among the district. (Formerly, all kindergarten was in one building.) They marched that red furniture into the classroom library they were setting up in a cozy little corner.

Jill and a friend carry small red furniture on their heads into a classroom

Jill says, “I’m taking all this down, really!”

“Let’s do it together,” I suggest, and we bare this bulletin board to make it ready for kids’ work.

Ta da! Look at the library now! Good job, Jill!

Read Full Post »

All the elementary teachers in Republic, MO are moving classrooms this year. The district is reconfiguring schools. After we set up several classrooms there, two charts appeared in the school office the next morning. One says, “I Have Extra….” and the other is titled, “I Need…” Teachers jotted down notes to communicate with each other about their needs. Great idea!!!


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »