Hi! We are Mollie and Amy from Two Nutty Teachers Teachin' from the Same Tree, and we have been playing the what if game for quite some time... What if we completely emptied our classrooms and created a new environment that felt inviting, comfortable, and highlighted all of the things we feel are key to student success? This year we finally got brave and took the leap.
This summer we asked our custodians to not return the furniture to our rooms after cleaning them and we started imagining all of the possibilities. We wanted to embrace our students' learning styles and learning preferences so we knew variety was key. We also wanted to ensure that there were several places in the room where students could collaborate. We are in LOVE with what we came up with, and the best part is the response we have received from our kiddos and their parents.
Here is a picture from the door to the classroom. As you can see, there are a variety of places for students to sit. There are three round tables that seat four students, the center island that also seats four students, three two-student tables, three individual desks, and a kidney table. In addition to the tables and desks, there is ample floor space for students who would rather sit on the floor to work.
This is the center of the classroom, and the first thing that was placed in the room. The table has four stools from IKEA and is anchored by two shelves that were also purchased from IKEA. The stools really help the room to seem less cluttered and the kids like having a choice between traditional chairs and the stools.
Two students can sit and work together here:
We also have a few cozy places for kids to sit and work, including disc chairs and a futon. Behind the two disc chairs, there is a long countertop that we keep cleared off for those students who would like to stand while working.
Here is our class library which also houses anchor charts for our core subject areas. There are three desks in this area where kids can work independently. Many quests ask if this is where our kiddos who are not on task sit but it is not. This space is reserved for kids who choose to work on their own.
This is our gathering area and where I conduct a majority of the lessons throughout the day. It works perfectly because the students can choose to sit on the floor or on the bench, and I have access to the document camera and interactive whiteboard.
This is the kidney table where students can collaborate or I can pull a small group for instruction.
Visitors always ask how we manage our students and their supplies in a classroom design like this. Each student has a white box (in the picture below) and a binder. This gives them a space to hold their personal materials (although we have community scissors, crayons, pencils, markers, etc.) and a way to organize papers into subject areas. The white boxes are spread throughout the classroom so that students are not on top of each other when they are getting their materials.
Students store their library books in these book bags hanging on a series of hooks my sweet hubby created for me. I have two hook racks in the room (one in the front and one in the back) to help with the flow of traffic when students are asked to get their books for SSR.
To help students stay on track we allow them to continue choosing where to work as long as they are making wise choices (I send my kiddos off every day with the words "Find a place where you can be successful!"). If students are not focused and on task, they may be asked to move their number to the "First Notice" column. If they continue to make poor choices, they no longer have a choice, and the teacher chooses where they will work for the remainder of the time period.
We also needed a way for students to collaborate during the focus lesson so we assigned each student a partner for various subject areas. When students gather in the gathering area for a lesson, they sit by their partner for that subject. It makes turn and talk much easier.
We are a couple months into the school year and, so far, there isn't anything we would change. We are looking forward to conducting a short survey with our kiddos and their parents to gather feedback on how the room is working for them. If you are interested seeing pics from Mollie's room (all pics in this post are from Amy's room) and hearing more about how the layout of our rooms is helping us to meet the needs of all of our learners, please hop on over and visit us at our blog Two Nuts Teachin' from the Same Tree.
Mollie and Amy are Two Nutty Teachers who strive to find fun, exciting, and engaging ways to deliver curriculum to their fourth grade students. In addition to working together as teaching partners, Mollie and Amy enjoy sharing their curriculum creations in their Teachers Pay Teachers store Two Nuts Teachin' from the Same Tree.