Well, the classroom has come a long way since the beginning of July. I’ve finally decided on the placement of some key fixtures. Here’s the layout – which hasn’t changed too much from my initial thoughts:
As you can see, I’ve sources some more trapezoid tables to ensure that sufficient seating is available in the Great Minds at Work area. In the Storybook Corner, atop the blue desks will be a listening centre and an aquarium – which will house a yet-to-be-decided class pet. (Perhaps I’ll just set up an aquatic environment in the tank and leave the choice of animal to all of us after the school year starts.) I also have some child-friendly furniture for the Storybook Corner.
The cupboards at the back of the classroom will be used as individual identity spaces for children to keep their personal school supplies (since we’re not using individual desks in the room. This will allow children to have personal space for their personal belongings – to which they will likely have strong attachments, if their back-to-school shopping was anything like the exciting back-to-school shopping that I remember as a kid.
The Reuse Centre (a temporary name) has plenty of shelf space to be filled during a project on sorting and collecting that we’ll begin the year with. (I’ve been reading Weisman and Gandini’s Beautiful Stuff! Learning with Found Materials for ideas on such a project.)
Now that big spaces have been decided upon and arranged, I’m getting down to the finer aesthetics: displaying books on the bookshelves in Storybook Corner; carefully arranging art supplies in the Exploration Zone; figuring out which plants to keep in the classroom – and where; and planning wall space. Regarding the vertical space in the room, I’m trying to balance openness and opportunity for contribution to decorating and filling the walls, with inspiration (like colours and images) and important messaging (like an alphabet and number line) that are necessary to catalyze learning and contributions.
Through all of this, I’m finding it necessary and appropriate to craft my ideas and thoughts about the classroom environment into a bulletin board display. This will help to communicate the underlying philosophy and beliefs on which these decisions about space have been principled. Communication not only to children, but to families, colleagues and administration.
Stay tuned as I begin to craft this message through these blog entries.