I put the finishing touches on my classroom seconds before my new third graders arrived on Wednesday morning. One of my favorite moments of the year is seeing their nervous and excited eyes take in the scene of their new third grade world. Here is a peek at what they saw on their first day.
One of the focal points of my classroom is our library. It is ready to use on the first day of school. Even though the students aren’t perfectly trained on how to keep the library organized, I let them check out books immediately. I value easy access to books far more than a perfectly-organized library. How can I resist letting them get their hands on a book when they are chomping at the bit?!
Since we spend a great deal of time in the library for read alouds, class meetings and classbuilding activities; it is also the home of the “Wow Work Wall”. No, I do not have 8 students…I have 26. The frames reserved for work that blows our minds. There are times when I have my students vote on which eight projects or papers should be featured on the “Wow Work Wall”. At other times, I make the selections. This serves as a great motivator for students to take their time and put care into producing high-quality work.
Opposite the library is our Conference Corner where I work with small groups during math and hold my reading and writing conferences during workshop time. This table also doubles as my “desk”. I decided to move out the traditional desk because I wanted to maximize student work space. Making every surface accessible to the students makes project work time more comfortable and productive. On the first day during the room tour, they are instructed not to step behind the Conference Corner table into my “top secret teacher territory”. This arrangement works quite nicely for all of us.
As you travel to the right of the Conference Corner, you will find our classroom’s activity hub…AKA the Utility Counter. This counter is a frequented by dirty hands, thirsty mouths, serves as a staging area for science experiments and art projects, and keep our weekly work organized next to our R.E.S.P.E.C.T. binder.
Attached to the Utility Counter is the Art Supply Cabinet…pretty self explanatory. Everything in this cabinet is labeled with my Classroom Organization Labeling Kit (get your own set here). Labeling is a life saver when you are on the other side of the room with paint, glue, tissue paper and cotton balls stuck to your fingers and you forgot to take out the ribbon. The students are always honored when they have the responsibility of finding that always-forgotten supply…this cabinet makes it easy!
Another favorite nook in our classroom is The Lantern where the motto is a Dr. Seuss quote, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”. It is always tricky to give students the opportunity to “vent” about playground problems when you want to jump right into your next lesson. The Lantern solves that problem! The students who feel upset about a recess incident simply stop by and tell our class owl what happened by writing about it. They then stick their note in the white lantern, leave their worries behind and get to work. I then check any notes at my earliest convenience and problem solve as needed.
To the right hand side of the whiteboard, we have our student work wall, additional supply storage and the oh-so-important pencil pots (also labeled with my Classroom Organization Labeling Kit). This work display wall is where students hang projects of their choice. This wall becomes a collage of each students’ special something that makes them stand out. It often takes the students a little more time than necessary to get an “Oh so sharp!” pencil because they get caught up in admiring their peers’ work..a sacrifice I am willing to make. 🙂
Wrapping around back towards to library, another student work table known as the Collaboration Station invites students who like a scenic view while working. This is a great spot for those who need more than the usual amount of elbow room. Some of my more adventurous collaborators prefer sitting under the table and using our emergency fort bin as their work surface…whatever floats your boat! 🙂
I have saved my favorite feature for last! My desks are organized in small groups. We talk and move around a lot in my class so this set up is my preference. Each group has their own Supply Station which houses everything they need to stay focused, efficient and organized. Each station includes:
- A group supply box (fewer supplies in their desks means less clutter and more organization)
- A Tidy Up Tools bin (feather duster, hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes to keep the group area in tip-top shape)
- A Work In Progress Folders bin (students don’t put any work in progress in their desk)
- Personal Book Boxes (library books are often damaged inside desks)
- An extra bin for any small projects we are currently working on that need a place to stay
Oh how I love these stations!
Setting up this year took quite a bit of work, but every moment was well worth it! Here is a quick before and after comparison to show the total transformation!
Hope you enjoyed taking a peek at my home away from home! Feel free to leave your comments and questions below. I love sharing organization and collaboration tips so don’t be shy! 🙂