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Posts Tagged ‘whole-group area’

I started out the new year in Greenwood, Arkansas on a return visit to Westwood Primary. On my last trip there in June, we set up a first grade classroom together and made over the space in a day. We also learned about literacy work stations. Boy, did these teachers put it into action! A big thank you to all the awesome teachers at Westwood Primary!

Kindergarten read-aloud with word wall and ABC chart

  

Whole-group area and word wall

 

Whole-group area - note the automotive drip pan on the wall

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Fourth graders sit on the floor in the whole-group teaching area to read a story from Tumble Books together.

Recently, an upper grade teacher told me she couldn’t have a whole-group teaching space where kids gather close to her, because she uses a document camera or projection device. She told me her students need to stay in their desks to see what’s projected on the interactive white board.

Yes, there are times when you might want students to stay at their seats when teaching with this kind of technology. For example, when teaching a math lesson with manipulatives, I often have kids sit at their desks or tables while I model with the document camera.

But there are other times, such as those on the pictures, where I bring students up close to read something together. They simply sit in front of the screen. This enables us to feel like a part of a group, or a community of learners.

Tumble Books highlights words being read aloud in blue. Kids can read along with the text.

I love having a whole group teaching area, even with older students. They like to sit together on the floor for a change of pace. And, by being closer to the teacher, are often more engaged in the lesson and learning. By the way, in this class, they were using Tumble Books. Teachers told me that they shared this new technology with parents in conferences. Some of their parents who didn’t have the Internet at home told teachers they were going to get the Internet just so their children could read using Tumble Books at home, too. The power of technology!

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One word for the teaching I saw in Cabot… WOW! What wonderful classrooms I visited. It was hard to tell the difference between the special education rooms and those that weren’t. The only difference was smaller class size and more adult support. It was an amazing visit! Photos below tell the story in some of the upper grade rooms I visited. More to come on primary classrooms later.

Guided reading group meets in special education classroom. Teacher uses tools on table for focused teaching.

Whole group teaching area in 4th grade. Note the use of dry erase boards hung on wall in the area.

Fourth grade has tables and stacking drawers at the end of them for organization

Wouldn't you love to curl up and read a good book in this 4th grade classroom library?

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Today we’ll look at classrooms just for Pre-K and K students. While visiting Ford Elementary in Denver, I saw great things set up in spaces for the youngest learners. Their 4-year-olds are in an ECE room. Kindergarten is housed in another classroom. Such kid-friendly environments! Everything was just the right size for little ones. The word wall was low, interactive, and in the whole-group teaching area so students could easily see and manipulate the new words they are learning. Libraries were inviting. Children were comfortable in this space designed just for them.

Kindergarden teacher in HEELS by her stylin' magnetic area

Kindergarten teacher in HEELS by her stylin' magnetic area

Low, interactive word wall in kindergarden whole-group area

Low, interactive word wall in kindergarten whole-group area

Whole-group area in ECE houses a word wall

Whole-group area in ECE houses a word wall

Word wall with students' names and pics

Word wall with students' names and pics

ECE library invites young readers in

ECE library invites young readers in

ECE writing station

ECE writing station

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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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While doing back to school inservice at Mt. Penn Elementary Center in Antietam School District in Reading, PA, a few 6th grade teachers asked me to peek in their classrooms.

I saw some lovely classroom libraries! One teacher had organized books with a fiction section and a separate nonfiction section, as I suggest in my book, Practice with Purpose. The other has a well-defined, comfortable space set up and will have her students help organize the books next week when they return to school. Labels on baskets help students find and return books easily.

Would love to see pictures of your classroom library if you have one! Send them to d.diller@live.com and I will post them. Make sure that you include your name, where and what you teach, and a short description of your library. 

Labeled books in library baskets

Labeled books in library baskets with pictures for support

Teacher's favorite books

Teacher's favorite books

Lovely classroom library doubles as a whole-group area

Lovely classroom library doubles as a whole-group area

Nonfiction books in sixth grade library

Nonfiction books in sixth grade library

Cozy sixth grade classroom library

Cozy sixth grade classroom library

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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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