Saturday, July 24, 2010

Setting up my Classroom Part 1

Some background before I get into my actual plan for setting up my classroom. I began teaching in my district as a inter-school loop teacher which means that I went between the 3-5 Elementary school and the 6-8 Middle School. Each year I was in a different classroom which was obviously very difficult. To make matters worse, when I was at the Middle School, I was on the ground floor and my room was used by the Summer Y program. This continued for the past few years even after I became a full time 6th grade, Middle School teacher. Last year, when I moved from being on a two person team to a three person team, I also moved my classroom upstairs. That meant that my classroom was going to get cleaned in the first couple of weeks of summer. Unfortunately last year, they had to paint my classroom and did not finish this until halfway through August, about 2 weeks before kids came back. This year there was no painting so they had my room cleaned before the 4th of July. Imagine how excited I've been to set it up!

Above are some images of my classroom prior to my changing anything. My room is a bit odd in shape as it falls on one end of the school (meaning that no one abuts one side of my room.) Also my room is more wide than long as well.

As you can see, I have tables as opposed to desks. I'd much rather have round tables but that isn't an option so I'll take the tables I've got. I also have a IWB on the chalkboard, a kidney shaped table that plays double duty as my desk and a place to work with kids, various forms of shelving, and a bunch of chairs with tennis balls on the feet (an idea from my wife.) You can't see it in those pictures but I also have two working desktop computers available in my room and an ELMO.

In the following pictures, you'll see how I began my set up of my classroom.

You'll notice I've set the desks up in sort of a lecture room style. I'm not really completely happy with that as it suggests the focus of my class is on me, talking at the board which is rarely the case in class. I wanted the desk to focus that way in part because it allows students to share with one another either on the IWB or on the ELMO. Otherwise, I was just trying to use the room I had as best I could without putting tables right next to one another. I've also tried to leave quite a bit of space on one chalk board so that I can have a place for kids to put their ideas, drawings, etc. This was inspired by the white boards that Google has placed all over their Googleplex and other places of business. I'm thinking I'm going to bite the bullet and put out colored chalk for the kids to write/draw with even though I'm sure it will create a big mess. Its a shame I don't have a whiteboard and could go ahead and use markers instead but oh well... I wish I had smaller tables to put the computers on but I like not having them right next to one another but instead one on each side of the IWB. I think this will allow more room for students who might be working together to actually do work, as well as giving me more room when I or the students are working with the ELMO. I tried to use the most of my space by putting my shelves of materials (markers, paper, pencils, etc) and math materials along the window wall which I wasn't going to block anyway. Obviously I have a long way to go (as evidenced by the boxes of stuff all over the tables and the walls being essentially blank.) I'll touch on the rest of my set up when I can go back into my room and finish it off (the custodians have to clean and wax the hallways so I haven't been able to go back in) in Setting up my Classroom part 2.

Any thoughts/comments on how the set is going so far?


  1. If lack of a whiteboard is a problem, you might consider an A3 or A2 flipchart and stand. Maybe a page a day or a page a week, so you can keep a record of what the students are writing and thinking about... Although it does also preserve "errors" those can be a good future learning experience if you go back and review yesterday/last week/last month.
    I assume an ELMO is some kind of overhead projector and not one of the "tickle-me" type!

  2. Colin- yes an ELMO is a document camera- although you never know I might a "tickle-me" in part 2! I was thinking a whiteboard like they use at Google- I'm thinking about having kids write/draw whatever they want on my chalkboard every month (start new on 1st of month) just kinda place to spew out what's in their minds

  3. I love the idea of allowing students to write whatever on your you give them guidelines? I understand about the chalkboards...I had them too up until just two years ago. You could go to a home improvement store and buy a large sheet of whiteboard, have them cut it into individual boards (about 1'x 1'). Your students could leave individual messages for the next class. Just a thought. Good luck with those pesky custodians!

  4. Ron- this is the first year I've tried the chalkboard idea- I'm going to look online and see what sort of things I can find to show the kids what I want (appropriate examples from the Googleplex say). I love the idea of going to Home Depot or Lowe's and getting a huge sheet of white board and making it into individual boards! Thanks

  5. Eric,
    It looks great! We need to talk IWBs because I will have one this year! I don't know how much Idea Paint is...but that could make the chalk board into a whiteboard.....

    Nevermind! It's $200! You're better off to just go buy shower board at a home store like Lowes!

  6. Becky,

    We will definitely have to talk IWBs. Maybe we can work out some sort of collaboration using them!

    Love the idea of Idea Paint hadn't thought about that. I'll see if a parent has some spare stuff sitting around (never can tell).

  7. My favorite English teacher in HS had a quote section of the board. The criteria for putting something up was that it had to be an example of beautiful writing, something that inspired you, or something you strongly believed in. I'm going to try it in my classroom this year for the first time.

  8. Sounds great Stephen! Take some pictures- would love to see how it comes out