Words cannot express how excited I am about this year’s classroom. I’ve been working on different aspects of it off and on, and well mostly on, throughout the summer – scavenging yard sales and Goodwill stores, stalking Craigslist ads over early morning coffee, and sending dozens of emails to teachers I’ve loved on the internet whose classroom’s I adore. For those of you who don’t know, I teach 7th grade English, and I have five class periods of about 25-29 each. I fell in love with this post from Cult of Pedagogy in the middle of last year, and knew as soon as I saw it that I would do whatever it takes over the summer to change my rigid desk classroom to that of a flexible seating environment.
Hence came my obsession with Rebecca Malmquist (@), who teaches 9th and 10th Grade English. What I love MOST about her room; however, is not the flexible seating (which yes, is amazing), but her rainbow affirmation wall. I’ve studied how she has implemented it. Ok fine, stalked… whatever… and I’ve got everything in place to give it all a try in the crazy-hormonal-pre-teen-angst-world that is known as seventh grade.
Before the tour, a few things about my room:
* I don’t have windows, as you’ll be able to see. boo. I don’t normally keep the overhead lights on, I have a number of lamps and other lighting that makes it feel more comfortable, that lighting is not great for photos.
* I have two doors, but only one is an entry into my classroom. The other is a door into another classroom. That classroom is another grade and subject, so it is off limits as far as students passing through per say, but I can’t block the door.
* 2 out of my 5 total classes are special ed. classes where I have a co-teacher, hence the double desk and large workspace area for computer/document camera, etc. I love having a co-teacher, and I had the absolute best last year. She left me for Seatle, and I’m still crying about it.
Without further adieu… here is my 2016-2017 flexible seating classroom! I will update as things settle into their home and new year!
This is as far back and high up as I could get. My room is not giant, but I’m loving how the tables give me more space! Who needs windows, right??
The student door is just to the right of this picture. When they come in, this is their command center. It is where they meet me and shake hands at the door, and it’s also where they can pick up any papers and information. I store all printed materials in the vertical green paper hanger. On the tan paper: on the right you will find our Article of the Week. Find more info about how I do Article of the Week here (based heavily on Kelly Gallagher, with influences from Dave Stuart, and the and using the template from North Bergen). **I will come back and update this with links later. On the left, I plan on keeping class information like our syllabus and an account/password log (we are a 1:1 campus and keeping up with what your username or login for this account or that seemed to be a problem last year).
We are heavily advised to post our “Learning Targets”. I’m totally on board with the research behind putting the standards into student friendly language, I just wish my whiteboard was magnetic so that it would make posting them 100% easier. Until I get a magnetic white board, I’ll see how this system works out. I just used decorative tape to stick some page protectors to the board. We’ll see.
This is a large view looking to the right of the door. (You can see the green vertical paper hanger and the door). Starting on the top of the cabinets: the stickers came from Hobby Lobby, as did the READ letters – which I still want to decorate. I’ve had them for three years now. Still hasn’t happened. The 8×10 printouts on my cabinets are all resources for my students. I’ve got them in my TPT store. They are an excellent source of using a variety of words in writing. I wanted each table group to have a different type of chair so that students could find what works best for them.
Continuing around to the right, behind the two round tables, you’ll find two teacher’s desks. I tried to find the smallest desks that matched that I could so that my co-teacher and I could plan our two classes together. It is extremely important to me that our students see her as an equal counterpart. Giving her an equal amount of workspace and bulletin board space (that space is still blank because I’ve got a new co-teacher this year) is important to me to let the students see that she is a co-teacher, and not just someone to go run my copies.
And then there is the rainbow board. This is the idea that I am taking from Rebecca Malmquist. According to her posts, each class is assigned a color and each student a number. So each student will have an “address” – 17 Purple, 3 Orange, 35 Teal, etc. She uses this as a mailbox system to deliver positive affirmations… from other students!! I’m going to give it a try. I’ve got my library pockets, I’ve got extra’s for student class changes, I’ve got index cards, and I’ve got no clue how it will work, but I will keep you updated!
The hand-written class motto will be coming down. It is an activity that I do with my classes the second week of school. They come up with words that represent amazing students and we slowly take those words and form them into a class motto that is then voted upon between all classes. Last year, we actually had a tie, so the motto was a merging of two classes (why it was so long), but the student’s totally owned it all year. I love this activity and will for sure do it again and again!
Another full shot of most of the room. Moving right from the rainbow wall, you’ll see a lamp on a table. This is where I have the index cards and delivery box for the “outgoing mail”. Like I said, I’ll update with progress on how this systems works. To the right of that is a much smaller classroom library than what I’ve had in the past six years of teaching. In the past few years of being at this school, I’ve noticed that some of the older books weren’t being read. I cleaned out this year, and have saved many of the older books and torn the pages out for activities like blackout poetry and found poetry.
To the right of the bookshelf is my three week agenda. I usually plan more than three weeks out, but I write out what we are doing each day (very generally), if there is a test or quiz, an early release, or holiday, etc. To the right of that, is where I list our weekly homework – what it is and when it is due.
This is something new that I’m going to try this year as well. The idea came from @miss5th on Instagram – who has her students bring in a weekly quote. The classes vote on it and the quote stays for the week. She teaches 5th grade and has significantly less than 130+ students. I went round and round on how I could make this work and finally decided that a democratic dictatorship would work best. Meaning, I will present two or three quotes at the first of the month – if those quotes end up coming from the students, great. Voting will probably happen via google classroom so that it is out of class if needed and all students votes are in one place. Sounds legit, right?
These two cubbies are behind the couch. Top row is turn in assignment baskets for each class. Middle row is where composition books are stored for taking notes. Bottom bins are various supplies.
Stools from Amazon. I had a gift certificate for $60, which covered cost of five stools and shipping. I was leery of how flimsy they might be without being able to see them in person and sit on them. I’ve only had them a few days (without students) and so far, I’m highly impressed. They seem very durable.
Last but not least, the star of the show…. my FREE FURNITURE!!!!!! That’s right… I stalked Craigslist all summer, waiting for the right couch to be advertised, and finally went with this one. It is light weight, and although I may regret choosing upholstery, it matches the rug to perfection! The coffee table was also FREE from Craiglist…. ANNNDDDDD the people wanted it gone so badly, they actually delivered it!! Not. Kidding. I looked for one specifically like this, so that I could store clipboards and things to write on for those who wanted to sit on the floor.
The leaning/floor cushions came from Target, and the rug is from Overstock.com.
I had the custodians take the legs off of the rectangle table in the back, and my plan (with my next paycheck) is to get either some rug runners, floor cushions, or balls to sit on. The chairs were from our campus and the table between them from Goodwill, as most of the lamps in my room are as well!
I’ll be updating as things change and settle, and making posts of the different activities that will be happening now that my students can be flexible with where they sit! I hope all you teachers reading this have had a relaxing and fun-filled summer. Have a fantastic year!