Building A Mystery, Part 2



Time Spent: 4 hours

This morning I loaded up the Jetta with our new shop vac — more power! — and began cleaning up the dust from the floor replacement.  Here’s what was all over every surface, nook, and cranny of my classroom (even behind closed cupboards – this stuff goes everywhere).

Cleanup meant first sucking all the dust with the shop vac and then wet mopping it with paper towels and cleaner — sometimes twice.  It was nasty stuff.  The floor installers left some panels off and the floor vents took a major beating as well as one of the built in metal shelves.  That’ll all need fixing by the pros.

By the end of the four hours, The room was cleaned up and all the decorating that I plan to do completed.  We are a Responsive Classroom school and one of the things we do to build community is to decorate (reference charts, etc.) together.  The only exception I made for myself this year is the alphabet chart. Due to a shoulder injury, I didn’t take that down — but if the students have some preferred spot, I will and with help put it up according to the consensus.  So here are a couple of shots of the classroom configuration right now:

Meeting Area Rug:  The classroom library and a large bulletin board abut this area.  I have put the easel at one corner (my coat cloMeeting Areaset and 2 storage closets are beyond that) and I keep the snapcubes for our math investigations in a crate under the easel.  Also against the wall I have shelves that hold supplies for Writing Workshop (editing/revising pencils, forms, paper, art supplies), a listening center CD player, and a crate of cushions and 2 large beanbags.

Longer view of backHere’s a second view from the front of the room.  My desk area, 2 clipboard crates, and my collections baskets are to the right.  The table barely visible in the foreground is a round table which I use for conducting small group reading or reading/writing conferences.

My current thinking (I love that phrase!) is that I will have students keep all reading materials — independentBinder boxes

book selections, reading binders and any small group materials in the recycled cardboard magazine files (why are the recycled? See the Leveled Library Organization Project) you see on the window shelf. I also will have students keep a reading supply bag in that box – highlighter, stickynotes (cutting a 1/2 pad of 3×2 notes should be enough), bookmark, pencil) – things that take time to locate when moving around the room for Reading Workshop.  We create our own Reading Binders using floppy vinyl (red) binders and dividers (more on that later); I’m proud that my students have been very conscientious about taking care of the binders and with one or two exceptions, these are the very same binders I purchased new three years ago.     Because there’s a very important air flow vent built into the counter directly behind those boxes, I will lay masking tape to mark where the front of the box needs to line up.  The blue space behind those boxes is where we generally put a word/vocabulary wall.

Front of Room The front of the room looks the most bare at the moment.  Usually on one end of the white board we record homework assignments and on the other we keep a magnetic chart tracking where students are in the writing process.  I also hang a daily poster of our Reading Workshop Schedule at the front of the room.  I do use an overhead a lot.  Storing it at the end of the second reading/conference table and rolling it into position works for me. I have a rack of frequently used materials (Venn diagrams, blank story maps) on this table so that students can take them independently.

When I moved from the Bailey School to the Lincoln School I was excited because of the shelves!  The Lincoln was Sink areaconstructed one year after the Bailey and the architect apparently didn’t think shelf units over the sink area would be all that useful.  Luckily, when the Lincoln was constructed a revision was made and the shelves are well used!  In fact, I wish there were more of them — but then that would just encourage teachers like me to hold on to more STUFF.  I have a rolling “art cart” in which I keep a minimal amount of construction paper and lots of composition and math paper.  On top of that cart, I have a 24-section sorting file that is used as student mailboxes.

Greatest Invention EVER This final shot is a closeup of the coat/storage closet area.  Over the first 2 doors are pocket folders from Really Good Stuff. The first one holds reading and spelling/Word Study materials so that the students can help themselves.  The second holds math game and other such materials for our math program (Investigations).  Door Number 3, however, is the prize winner.  One of my former colleagues, Patty Myers, shared how she kept the little “stuff” she always needed in a clear plastic over-the-door shoe hanger.  This has been the coolest tip ever!

So now the room is clean, minimally set up, and ready for the first day.  Now all we need are the students!

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