June 16, 2012

Classroom Layout

As the school year ends I want to record what I liked and didn't about the layout of my classroom.  I'm also moving to the room next door (it's so much bigger!!) so I have to re-organize whether I want to or not.

Left side:

The agenda for each course I teach is on the board.  I use this much more than the students do- I do all my planning online (planbookedu) and my memory is terrible so I need my outline somewhere easy to glance at during class.  Some students look it over when they arrive, but most just wait for me to direct them to the next task when I write our current activity on the front board.  A few students will write in their journal before the end of class (which is counter to the purpose of reflection after doing the day's work) and do their homework when they are supposed to be doing classwork (which makes me grumpy) so I am considering leaving those off and putting them on a slide at the very end of class.

File cabinet: The top two drawers are for students- I keep extra folders in there for students with organizational challenges.  Some students take a folder for their backpack, others leave a folder in the top drawer with their work.  Next year we are moving to a binder system- I think I will have Fundamentals of Geometry keep their binder in class and just take home the day's notes and the homework worksheet in a folder.  Luckily my new room has two filing cabinets so they can have one just filled with binders.  The bottom drawers are for me- I started organizing all of the cut up problems, class sets of packets and great examples of projects in hanging files.  The teachers who are leaving have 3 million hanging file folders so I will be able to get things really well set up next year.  I don't want to save extra copies of most handouts since this year I made edits on the computer, but then made copies from an old sheet I found - which of course still had the typo or unclear question.  Everything that's leftover becomes scrap paper or recycling.

Table: pencils (usually golf pencils- cheap, pre-sharpened and the kids hate them enough to leave them behind), paper, pencil sharpener, calculators, tissues, stapler and hole punch all live here.  When students ask me for anything I just point.  Rulers, scissors and toolkits may be added to this area next year.  Tape will stay hidden away- I don't understand the temptation to use an entire roll of tape to fix something, but when the tape is out it disappears astonishingly fast.  This year I had a system of folders that worked great, except that kids weren't always clear about which folders were in vs. out vs. extra copies.  Next year I will put those into separate stands and label them better.


We are supposed to have a word wall.  I have done this in various ways over the year and have yet to find one I like.  One year I made pages with the word, definition and an example for all the types of quadrilaterals.  They look really nice but aren't easily visible from the back of the room.  Other years I've had students make mini-posters.  Those don't look as nice and still aren't super legible from afar.  Next year I think I'll just print the words with no other information in some huge font- maybe I'll print outlines and have kids color them, then laminate.  I do like the idea of having words up so that students have somewhere to look when they are searching for the precise term to describe a situation (although it took me 4 years of people mandating word walls for me to reach the point of admitting they might be useful).

The left side of my white board has the basics (name, room #, date) and a place for me to record students who participate or disrupt and to tally extra homework when the whole class won't settle down (I forget whose awesome idea this was, but thanks! Comment if you know and I'll give credit where it's due).  I did this for a while, but then didn't need to as much, and finally got a smart board so I don't usually have a dry erase marker in hand.  I record tally marks in my gradebook each day of who participated and disrupted during our class discussions, but students do sometimes need to see that I'm recording it, which is the purpose of having it on the board.  If I need these boxes next year I may do the split screen method on the smart board and make one page with just those 3 boxes.

My desk has boxes with: journal/CW sheets, scrap paper for quizzes, quiz/test corrections and MCAS reference sheets.  It may make more sense to put these papers with the extra copies of class activities.  But, students generally didn't make a mess of my desk this year since everything had a place to go and keeping papers in boxes meant the piles couldn't fall over!

Student desks are usually in pairs, which I like.  I'm excited for the possibility of extra space next year to have a place for groups to work without needing to rearrange the chairs.  They are currently as spread out as I can get them for exams (this room was not meant for 30 wide desks!).

Right side:

Random announcements and schedules fill these boards.  I have far more board space than I need so some get used as bulletin boards.  Next year I'd like to leave some of the extra boards blank and encourage kids to use the boards to work together.  This is also where the student art gallery is (hidden by the cabinet).  My cabinet has stayed organized since I cleaned it out at midterms.  Success!

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