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Archive for the ‘Classroom makeovers’ Category

Rachel was pretty lucky this week. Not only did we organize her math materials; she also received a “1-hour classroom setup” transformation for her kindergarten classroom. In just 60 minutes, we planned on paper where to place all her furniture to set up her classroom for optimal instruction this next year.. and we worked together to move her furniture in place.

Seeing is believing! Here are some pictures:

Rachel's kindergarten classroom "before"

Rachel's room "after"

The classroom map we drew- note the sticky notes with spaces on them

We all pitched in to move the furniture after planning on paper where to put it

Back corner "before"

Back corner "after" is now going to be the classroom library

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I had the honor of working with about 75 PreK-grade 2 teachers in Killeen ISD this week. We learned a lot together about primary math stations.
 
Because I believe that organization is critical to successful teaching, I modeled how to organize your math manipulatives. We went to an actual classroom and organized Rachel’s kindergarten math stuff. (This is a new classroom that Rachel is just moving into.)
 
Several teachers helped Rachel sort her materials after we talked through what needed to be done. They sent Rachel to the dollar store to buy containers (after measuring the spaces where she’d keep them). Then I stayed after the workshop, and in just 1.5 hours, the transformation was complete.
 
Look at Rachel’s closet before and afters!
 
By the way, if you’re coming to my Summer Institute in Houston this week, I’ll be showing the total transformation of Rachel’s math closet from start to finish on Friday, July 16. Can’t wait to see many of you there!
 

Rachel shows us the closet "before"

We find math stuff in several parts of the room and consolidate it

Rachel's closet "after" with all her math stuff in one place

Close up of some of her kindergarten counting materials (all labeled, of course!)

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We worked together at Castro Elementary to make more room for kids this week! Teachers from the CORE Matters training class I teach in Denver Public Schools worked together to help their colleagues resolve space issues. Here a few pics from my visit there:
 

Teacher desk area before

Teacher area after (still needs to organize materials, but much more space for kids!)

Everyone helps to move furniture and empty the teacher desk for moving

After picture of classroom library (we rearranged the shelves and seating)

We work together to rearrange student seating to have more space for kids

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 While at Westwood Primary in Greenwood, Arkansas, I worked with teachers on getting the most from small group instruction. They are reading and studying my book, Making the Most of Small Groups. Look at what they’ve already put into place!

Hats off to Dr. Sarah Turner, Principal, and Suzy Wilson, Assistant Principal, for the amazing collection of guided reading books they’ve provided for teachers at their school. They set up their bookroom in the teachers’ lounge to make the books easy for teachers to access. This is one of the loveliest bookrooms I’ve ever seen! Don’t you agree?

Kindergarten small group alphabet work

A well-organized small group area in second grade

The word wall is easily accessed in this small group area in another second grade classroom

First grade small group teaching in our "classroom makeover" room

Small group in second grade

Teachers' lounge/book room for guided reading books

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Working with Heather to create a word wall on the magnetic chalkboard

Working with Heather to create a word wall on the magnetic chalkboard

This summer I helped my friend Heather set up her kindergarten classroom for the new year. Instructor Magazine called and asked if I’d write an article on setting up a classroom at the start of the year. They sent out a photographer and we did the classroom setup in just one day. See a preview online! The full article appears in the September/October 2009 issue of Instructor Magazine from Scholastic.

Just a note… there was no air conditioning in the classroom when we set it up! Made for a rather hot workday in Houston in June! But one that we hope will help lots of you with ideas for your classroom. For more ideas on classroom setup, see my book, Spaces and Places: Designing Classrooms for Literacy for teachers in PreK-5th grade.

See my other posts about classroom makeovers:
Welcome classroom environments
A new teacher gets a classroom makeover
Classroom makeover in Ozark, MO

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This past week I visited Ford Elementary in Denver, CO. Teachers there are committed to creating welcoming classroom environments. We visited classrooms from ECE (4-year-olds) to 5th grade and moved a bit of furniture along the way. I recommend starting with classroom environment at the beginning of the year. It sets the foundation for all the teaching we will do throughout. When we have a well-organized whole-group teaching/meeting area, it is easier to help students focus on what we are teaching.

Likewise, a smal-group teaching area (with everything we need at our fingertips) helps our small-group lessons stay focused and within our time budget. We can minimize interruptions and distractions. One thing to keep in mind is to be sure you can easily see every child in the classroom from your small-group table.

A third space to focus on at this time of year is your classroom library. Does it invite students in to read a book? Is it easy for children to choose just right books and return them to the library for others to easily find? Does the library support reading comprehension, too? You might have a set of fiction shelves and a separate set of nonfiction shelves to get students thinking about genre.

Here are some pictures of our work at Ford:

Welcoming whole-group area in 4th grade

Welcoming whole-group area in 4th grade

Principal Gilberto and others move small-group table to a better location

Principal Gilberto and others move small-group table to a better location

"Dead space" in classroom might be perfect for small-group area

"Dead space" in classroom might be perfect for small-group area

"Girl Power" moving small-group table to new spot

"Girl Power" moving small-group table to new spot

Happy teacher in new small-group area

Happy teacher in new small-group area

Third grade classroom library with anchor charts

Third grade classroom library with anchor charts

Start of the new nonfiction library shelves in 4th grade as books are sorted with students

Start of the new nonfiction library shelves in 4th grade as books are sorted with students

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The city of Reading

The city of Reading

I spent last week in Pennsylvania and worked in the city of Reading. How appropriate! (It’s pronounced red-ding, though). My drive there included driving through farmland in Lancaster County (where I grew up) and passing through city streets with woods in the background. Pennsylvania means “Penn’s Woods.”

School starts here this week, and the 3rd-6th grade teachers I was with did a great job of working together to plan for starting stations in the next few weeks. We brainstormed which stations they’d use first, how they’d introduce them, and even did a few together. During breaks, I peaked into classrooms.

One 6th grade classroom had wall to wall cabinets on two walls. The teacher is looking for solutions of how to hang things on the doors for display, since there is virtually no wall space. Sixth graders keep their things in these “lockers” behind the doors and open them frequently. Any suggestions??? Please post your ideas so they can be shared!

 

A farm in Lancaster County, PA

A farm in Lancaster County, PA

Bulletin boards covered in the same color red

Bulletin boards covered in the same color red

How would you use these cabinets for display?

How would you use these cabinets for display?

Organized supplies in sixth grade

Organized supplies in sixth grade

Playing "guess my word" during the inservice

Playing "guess my word" during the inservice

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While in Ozark, MO, I did a second classroom makeover. It’s Amanda’s first year to teach, and she’s really excited about her new kindergarten room. She thought about having two whole-group teaching areas, but we decided to just have one large space for both math and reading instruction. She moved it to the magnetic dry erase board area. Now she can convert part of that dry erase board into a low interactive word wall. And she can use her document camera there, too, since this is a room set up for teaching with technology. Her classroom library could have become a “landing strip,” so we moved it to create a more open, welcoming reading area. See her before and after pictures:

A before picture of the whole-group area with a large math board

A before picture of the whole-group area with a large math board

Moving the carpet was a team effort

Moving the carpet was a team effort

The new whole-group area is more open and welcoming

The new whole-group area is more open and welcoming

The old library area was a possible landing strip

The old library area was a possible landing strip

The new classroom library area with comfy bean bag chairs

The new classroom library area with comfy bean bag chairs

One corner of the classroom was cold and cluttered

One corner of the classroom was cold and cluttered

The cluttered back corner became a new area for manipulatives and portable centers

The cluttered back corner became a new area for manipulatives and portable centers

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We worked together last week to give Polly’s classroom a whole new look! She said that last year she moved things around every few weeks, but it never really felt right. 

We started with a plan for instruction, and that makes all the difference. As part of our summer workshop in Ozark, we met in Polly’s room and mapped out the classroom with her. Teachers gave suggestions for furniture placement (and the “why” behind their reasoning), and then Polly and I planned where to place each instructional space.

Together, we moved all the stuff. We changed the color scheme in the room to make it flow, too. This is the first room where I’ve used black as a background on bulletin boards. I love it! The charts Polly hangs will really show in this new space. The built-ins are a funky color, so that’s why we used black and white with it. Now Polly’s room is ready for instruction, and she shouldn’t have to move furniture around at all.

Take a look at these before and after pics!

Looking into the old classroom

Looking into the old classroom

Looking into the new, fresh classroom

Looking into the new, fresh classroom

The old library was sort of sad

The old library felt crowded in the middle of the room

A couple of pillows cheer up the library

This cozy new library feels inviting

Looking at the old shelves in Polly's classroom

Looking at the old shelves in Polly's classroom

Some new fabric and a new bulletin board freshen up the shelves

Some new fabric and a new bulletin board freshen up the shelves

Remember the old whol-group area?

Remember the old whole-group area?

Here is the whole-group area after the makover

Here is the whole-group area after the makover

And at last, look at these great new bulletin boards!

And at last, look at these great new bulletin boards!

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Last week I worked in Ozark, MO with about 200 dedicated educators in Pre-K-grade 5 classrooms. We talked about literacy work stations and how to best utilize classroom space for maximum instruction. A classroom makeover was a part of this, of course!

Polly’s classroom featured an odd color of built-ins, a color somewhere between salmon and cantaloupe! We put black and white with it to give it a fresh new look. We worked together to redesign her space, too. See these before and during pics and then check back later for the after pictures!

 

Look at the color of those built-in cabinets!

Look at the color of those built-in cabinets!

The whole-group area in Polly's classroom

The whole-group area in Polly's classroom

We moved the whole group area away from the cubbies. Too much potential trouble for traffic flow. Plus the document camera projects to another part of the room. New whole group area is by a dry erase board which will become an interactive word wall.

After school, we went shopping to the FM store in nearby Springfield, MO. So many choices! Then off to get border at another shop. Polly went home to sew, Deb and Karen returned to school to recover bulletin boards.

A great fabric store

A great fabric store

So many choices!

So many choices!

Deb inspects borders for Polly's classroom

Deb inspects borders for Polly's classroom

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