Extreme Makeover: Classroom Edition

Aaah, August is here, and with it: high humidity and high hopes for the school year ahead! For those of you like me (Kristine of the Kristine and Marjorie duo) you may have already started sketching out how you might arrange your classroom this year. Oh the possibilities! Will this be the year you eek out that extra two feet of space? For those of you that love classroom design, and those of you that wish someone else would do it, I have a few tips on set-up that will help your little readers and writers become independent from day one.

My Second Grade Classroom

Above is a visual from my old classroom (complete with the fire door that could not be blocked!) There are a few elements that worked really well for me, that I want to draw your attention to:

  • I allotted wall space for reading, writing, math, social studies, and science charts. These spots were left blank at the beginning of the year. BLANK! It would kill me to do it, but I knew that if I was going to make the room truly belong to my students, I couldn’t have the whole thing filled before they arrived. This was where the charts for each subject would go all year long, so when one was no longer in use, it was whisked into retirement to make room for the more urgent current chart. I tried to leave room for about four charts.
  • I put materials in the same space as the charts. This kept things organized for children, so if they needed something for writing, the charts, the materials, everything would be in the same corner. Students also kept folders for each subject in the same area, and those were passed out when they were needed, or children could get them if they wanted to see something in the folder.
  • I kept community supplies on the table. No one could claim they lost a pen when there were ten waiting in a cup in front of them!
  • Play materials were integrated into various subject area materials. Blocks were in math, dress up was in the library with the books, as was the listening center.
  • This was before the smart board, but if I had one, I would have put it where the morning routines were held so we could use this interactive technology when we were on the rug.
  • Last, but not least, no teachers desk. I am sure you, like me, never had time to sit at it anyway, but I kept all my frequently used materials (binder for notes on students, Everyday Math manual, etc) in a basket under the easel, and less everyday things went in the closet. Since the only time I sat was when the students were out at gym or something like that, I would just spread out on one of their tables to do paperwork.
  • Well one more thing, I lobbied very very hard for tables, not desks. It made for more room, and no one ever had to dig around in desks for anything, including me!
We would love to hear your thoughts, or see your classroom set-ups! Happy organizing!

17 Comments on “Extreme Makeover: Classroom Edition”

  1. Kelly says:

    Can’t see the class pics!

  2. Rebecca says:

    Where did you do guided reading? Is the round table for conferences or did you do most of your work on the rug? I like the layout, I would love to know more about the use of the space.

    • chartchums says:

      I did any small groups, like guided reading, on the rug. I moved around the room for conferring. Since I did reading, writing and math all in workshop structure it was easy to keep all whole group work on the rug, and then independent and group work in spots around the room. Hope this helps!

    • gigi says:

      I hope you get this… my question is with such limited space I too have tables. Love them. however your suggestion to put the supplies in the charting area (writing charts/writing supplies) aren’t you dragging in more furniture for the supplies?

      • chartchums says:

        I use shelves and they work well to hold materials. Target sells cheap plastic ones that are skinny and light to move 🙂

      • gigi says:

        What books do you put out the first week or so of school? I don,t pull out the library til about week three; usually put magazines and some level 6-10 books based on info. I have from end of first grade. Suggestions

      • gigi says:

        Do you have pictures of your room. I’m not very good at sketching… I go in my room and physically move things around and stare at it and do a walk thou to see if it works. It is great to see others pictures … Those help. Thanks. Love your book and your site!

  3. gigi says:

    this may be a ‘dumb’ question but who organizes your community supplies each day? pencils sharpened, replenishing erasers, etc. you or the kids?

    • chartchums says:

      No dumb questions! There are no pencils (pens only) and kids can refill what the table needs from the art center. It’s not pristine, but it is a good chance to practice responsibility.

    • gigi says:

      Sorry hit wrong button. My question is why pens? Is it for the management… No sharpening needed or so the kids can,t incessantly erase? I think I want to try this. Sounds so “against the rules.” : h

      • chartchums says:

        Pens for three reasons:
        1. Pens help with developing fine motor skills and pressure modulation on paper (especially flair pens)
        2. Pens make erasing impossible therefore allowing me to see process. For example, one of my kinders when through this to spell “fast” FST (line through it) then FSTA (line thru it) then FSAT (line through it) then FAST. Without a pen, I would have had no idea of where he was at- which was this beginning understanding that every word has a vowel, and playing with looks right and sounds right. I could also use it as a share to illustrate tenacity and working through problems
        3. Never ever need sharpening! I have enough grief trying to keep the staplers unjammed 🙂

        I recommend Flair pens (which can be expensive) but regular ol’ ballpoints do the trick as well. The main thing is crossing out (in math, in writing, in drawing) not throwing out or scribbling.
        Hope this helps!

  4. alyce says:

    I love the idea about the pens! I agree with the other poster that it just sounds so against the rules. Honestly I think you get more pens in a pack for cheaper then a pack of pencils. It also takes away the issue with those kids who “accidently” break their pencil just so they can get up and roam.

  5. Karri says:

    No pens! I like the idea, I teach K- still appropriate ?

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