Thursday, September 4, 2014

Classroom Design: Essential to Reading/Writing Workshop Framework

I decided to go back to my roots.

When I began teaching, I was blown away by Nancie Atwell's In the Middle and began to implement everything I could about her workshop method.  Pretty gutsy for such a green teacher, but ignorance was bliss and I fell in love with the connection to students as readers and writers.  Fast forward fifteen years, and there I am, still in the classroom, but with a lot more experience and knowledge in my noggin.  Over the past couple of years, I've found myself moving away from those In the Middle experiences, and I'm sad about that.

So, I decided to take action.

It's been quite a while, but I designed my classroom to support the framework I know to be best for my students.  

In my training through Literacy Collaborative, I learned, practiced and implemented a gradual release model of instruction.  This is nothing new, but a fresh reminder of how students learn.  The LC classrooms I visited had a separate meeting area for the "I do" and sometimes "We do" portion of the lesson, and then another space for students to work independently.  Not only did this make the structure of the lesson reliable and tangible for students, it helped the teacher plan in a particular way, knowing a meeting would be taking place to take a look at a certain skill.  

After some deliberation and work with Classroom Architect, I found a classroom design I can start my year with. This design supports the structure of my lessons and an environment of collaboration.

The front of my room has become the "meeting area" where class begins each day.

The back of my room holds my classroom library, a bulletin board waiting to be filled, and tables for students to complete independent work.

Another view of the clusters of tables.  A shelf separates the "meeting" area from the "work" area.

I can't take credit for this hanging over my door this year.  I stole it from this post by Pernille Ripp.

Now all that needs to be added to this classroom is students!  That always seems to be the true test of a classroom design.