Monday, August 18, 2014

A Work in Progress

Every school year is a fresh start with new children and we wipe the slate clean for a new adventure. We work super hard to prepare our rooms knowing how important an inviting learning environment impacts our students, and ourselves! My room may look clean, but only I know what is shoved in those closed cabinet doors, about to tumble out should anyone open them. (hehe) I love this ecard:
I know it is a joke, but it is SO true. ; ) So, I spent a few days in my room cleaning cabinets out. And I mean, CLEANING! I was in a mood to just lose the extra items that are just taking up space. It's very much like my clothes closet ("I'll wear this shirt with the right skirt, whenever I find the right skirt to wear..." and NEVER wear the shirt) So I just got rid of it all. My room is neater, not cluttered and what is left has a purpose. I'm thankful I had tons of trash bags in my trash can. Eight bags and several old, dusty crates later:
Before I show you the progress on my room, I want to share a few projects I completed, thanks to ideas borrowed from creative people on Pinterest. : ) One project is my 'Share Chair' - I thought this was a great way to clean up an old stool in my classroom. I hardly ever sit on it but my students love to. I followed most of the directions, but I did not sand it (see link above for complete directions). I figure if it chips, I will just touch up the paint. Here is my result:
Another project I have been wanting to complete are crate chairs. There are many ways to make this project and I completely intended to go to Lowe's and get the plywood cut, cover the wood with cute, durable fabric and batting, all to provide extra storage and flexible seating for my students. However... I spent some of my summer relaxing and now it's time to get ready for school - so I just flipped the crates over, laced some ribbon through the holes for decoration and tied a chair pad from WalMart on the top and it's all set!! Here is my final product:
I figure if my students really love these chairs, I can add the plywood later if I need storage but after my big clean up, I don't need the space anyway. : ) *The blue splash mat hanging on the wall is a bath mat from Ikea. I'm planning to have students use it by placing it on the floor and having a space to sit and work/read independently. I also have an alligator for buddy reading.

Last year I began exploring flexible seating in my classroom. Honestly, I was surprised. I had always thought that if my students didn't have a clear boundary to work in, they would be off task. Actually, it seems opposite of that. What instead they need are clear expectations of how to behave where ever they work. Whether that is in a chair, on the floor, outside at a picnic table, walking the halls, in the cafeteria, etc. They need expectations in place, then let them work! I brought some laundry baskets from home last year and my first graders LOVED sitting inside while they worked. 
Some students preferred to lounge on a beanbag or on pillows, while some students preferred to sit in a chair at a table. 
This year I wanted to add more options. I bought 5 stools at Ikea for my teacher table, I have 8 crate chairs, 2 beanbags, 2 baskets, and several pillows I plan to place around a low table. I am excited to see if my students enjoy it this year! I submitted a request on DonorsChoose to add more options to my classroom. I especially excited about the movement disks - perfect for my students who need to move while they work and listen! So, hopefully more to come on that later this year.

In my classroom this year, I want to continue to move away from a 'front' of the room but instead have learning spots or zones. I have a spot for small groups/1:1 instruction, a spot for our entire group to meet, a spot for our supplies, a spot for our books, a spot for our iPads, a spot for our projector to show us information. I tried to set up the room to encourage movement and collaboration, no limited work spaces. As I mentioned before, I will work with my students to define expectations for what engaged learning looks and sounds like (and we will be silly and show what it does NOT look and sound like - they LOVE that one!) I was not able to narrow the colors down to only 2-3 but I tried to decorate the room with a clean, inviting look. Most walls have black spaces for future anchor charts and student work. One wall has blue paper, since we do not have a window - it sometimes tricks me into thinking it's the big, blue sky. ; ) Here are a few glances at my (always!) work in progress. 
From the door:
Next corner:

Across from the door:
Teacher Space for small groups or 1:1 teaching: **with my new Ikea stools**
Next corner:
I have a few things to add before I meet my new friends Thursday. Knowing me, I will change something a few times before Meet the Teacher, and even after that... and possibly after the first day of school. New students bring new needs and some of this may not work... but I sure hope it does! : )


  1. Tie cushions on the crates?? Why didn't I think of that? Brilliant! Already added to my shopping list. (The rest of your space looks great, too.)

    1. Thank you! I borrowed that idea from Pinterest. SO thankful for others that will share so we can pass on these great ideas to each other! I hope you had a wonderful first week! : )