Rachel Boyd
Room 5, Waiuku Primary School
Year 2 (Learning Support Class)
http://room5waiuku2012.blogspot.com
http://rachelboyd.blogspot.co.nz/
http://rachelboyd.wikispaces.com/
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2012:


April

Update - dang it I am still with a teacher desk - grrr. I have however, kept up using the area above my desk as a classroom display space not a teacher admin area. I feel much better as a teacher taking up less space.

On a positive note, my classroom eXperts are up and running. are now able to mentor and help each other on different technological area in the classroom - without the teacher. Will take a photo of our display soon. I also have a new classroom behaviour management tool running (pic below) and students have moved up the reading beanstalk after our end of Term 1 testing. To encourage students reading at home regularly we also launched our "Reading Beads" initiative
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Reading Beanstalk
Behaviour Clip Chart
Reading Beads - Home reading initiative
We are part of the K-2 Flat Classroom Trial this year and are partnered with another school in Canada.
Here is the movie we made of our classroom as part of our "handshake" where we introduce ourselves to each other: It uses lots of the same images students have taken that I have shared on this page.



On an exciting note, our BLOGFOLIOS are going fantastically well - we are using an iPod touch to post.
A parent helper volunteer adds the text from what the students say afterwards.
Check them out here!
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March:

My room layout had been feeling quite crowded for a few weeks and we all have been having trouble keeping everything neat and tidy. So, we had a revamp.
Before the weekend of change, I discussed with my class what they liked and what they didn't like about our current layout and made some changes based on this.
I also took photos of how the areas should look to use later with students who are assigned (by choice) to these areas as part of their class responsbilities for the week. Here's hoping this will mean our classroom is a bit tidier!

Here are some up to date photos of some of the learning areas in our classroom:
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Library Area:
Smaller than I'd like but still a nice space.
The round beanbag ottomans are a HUGE hit with students!!
Writing Area:
Spare Paper, jovies, felt pens, stencils, colouring in books etc.
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Spelling Area:
Lots of hands-on activites for learning and practising spelling words - essential in my learning support classroom.
Eventually students will be able to choose whatever equipment they would like to use to learn their words - upwords letter tiles, chalkboards, draw and wipe boards, glow slates, mini whiteboards, alphabet stencils & old keyboards.
Viewing Area:
This is a deliberately darker area of the classroom, we keep the blinds permanently closed so we can use the TV/DVD player.
This will normally be used as an activity in our reading rotation, quite often students will watch the chapter containing the letter sounds we have taught/reviewed on the Jolly Phonics DVD.
Behind in the picture you can also see my writing words wall where students can read & pick off a word to use in their writing.
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Computers
I introduced 2 new (well old but new to my room) computers to my room at the start of this year - we now have a total of 5. These computers are on a low kneeler-type table and seem to be enjoyed by the students. The only barrier is that we have been having power issues with no easy fix on this side of the classroom so students are now favouring the traditionally mounted computers.
Group Teaching/Learning Space:
This jellybean-style stable has been fantastic to take my small group instruction for reading and writing (and sometimes maths). The dimentions are just so that it can comfortably seat 6-8 and the teacher is in easy reach & able to see all students' work.



February

I started the year unhappy with my classroom layout as I am still hanging onto my teacher desk!
As a junior teacher, I actually don't ever sit there during class time, but do need a "dumping place" for paperwork and random things that people give to me throughout the school day. In my role as DP (eLearning) I do have a small office in the next block over from my classroom, but this is actually also my computer and computer related item storage area & graveyard too! Not entirely suitable for day to day items.
So this is an area I am working on. I have, however, made sure my desk takes up the least amount of space and am investigating what I might do. This is going to be a project of mine for the next school holidays.

When setting my room up at the start of the year, I actually set up my spaces FIRST, then arranged my tables in the leftover space which worked really well. This prioritised the spaces I wanted to create. I have a viewing area (TV & DVD), a listening area (listening post), a writing area & a library/reading area set up. The kids seem to quite like the little spaces so far.

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The above mentioned dominating teacher display area

When I walked into my room on the weekend last week, something struck me. The area above my teacher desk where I
have admin notes, timetables, photos of old classes I've taught and notes, letters kids have given me is straight ahead when you walk into the room.
It struck me how dominant it was! This was not the look or feeling I want when students (or people in general) walk into our classroom! So long story short, I took everything down from the offending wall and made it into another learning display area which looks much better.
So I took everything down from that area!
I now only have a wall around the corner, pretty much hidden by my whiteboard unit) that I keep all the above mentioned timetables etc on display. Plus, the bonus is I gained a new display area for my class!







2011:



Prior to attending the eTour and watching Jacqui and Gareth in the eLearning classroom @ Everglade School I had been a closet viewer of this wiki. I had already listened to a lot of the material by Ewan McIntosh about classroom learning spaces and found lots of other useful info here. For me the eTour was a fantastic way to see a wide range of

classrooms from different year levels and the different ways space is used. As a classroom teacher space (or lack of) can be one of the most frustrating things that we are partly powerless to change, either due to physical constraints or lack of funding. Seeing the different ways other teachers had used what they had coupled with invention and kiwi ingenuity was great. I had already started making several spaces and after, with consultation from my class, I created a few more areas.

One of the biggest things I took away from the classroom tour was that classroom spaces are not going to work for all teachers (but wait, there is a reason!). After listening to all the teachers speak as we toured their classrooms, skills such as being self managing and problem solvers kept being mentioned. Without these skills, students will find it near impossible to work independently, with a buddy or in a small group in the classroom. I personally spend a lot of time on these skills with my classes at the start of the year. This year's class are gaining a lot of independence and have learned how to manage their behaviour in different situations (independently, with a buddy, in a group, with the class).

Students have also identified who they do and do not learn well with and make these choices for themselves on a daily basis.



Taking Action!

The first thing I did was look at the furniture and equipment I DID have. I considered thoroughfares throughout the classroom and high traffic areas that would need to be kept clear. I rearranged a lot of furniture to little areas, putting things sticking out of the wall, rather than running along the walls as I had previously.

Watching Space:

My greatest bargain so far has been a $29 DVD player (with USB input) worth $50 from Harvey Norman. I coupled this with an small, older style TV/VCR found in a resource room - unused for 2 terms! The VCR no longer works (it munches tapes) but when used with the DVD player it is fantastic. I gathered a few DVDs I did have and some bean bags and hey presto! I have added a "Television" card to my reading taskboard and implemented it straight away. I have 2 students trained to turn on the TV and operate the DVD player for reading groups. After 2 weeks they are using it independently without the need for me to get them organised. Currently, my main use of the TV/DVD is for my targeted lower reading groups. One of the activities they have each week is to review the Jolly Phonics sounds on the DVD that we have been learning that week. At first they thought it was an extreme coincidence they were watching the same sounds as we had been learning about (!)... now they realise it is an extra time for them to practise. I was worried about the loudness of the TV/DVD initially (as headphones cannot be used with it) but with the general business of my class at reading time it is barely noticed!!!
I do also have an IWB in my classroom, which would traditionally be the 'watching space'. However, this is used by me approximately 40% of the time for whole class modelling and the rest of the time for independent group practise. For this reason, I do not consider this to be my 'watching area' - it is perhaps more of a diffe

rerent type of Participation Space?
Next Steps:
My next step for the TV/DVD is to use the USB function of the DVD player and to put videos (probably linked to reading/writing or numeracy) onto my USB drive and use them with my groups - different videos to suit different learning outcomes.

Group Spaces:
We already have a fantastic, large kidney shaped yellow table that is our meeting space for when I work with reading and writing groups. It is fantastic as I can fit 8 students comfortably. We now also have designated chairs which stay there all the time and are a different colour to the rest of the chairs in the rest of the class. A small change, but a great one as before students were dragging their chairs from all over the classroom causing quite the carnage!

I also purchased 4 child-sized stools from the Warehouse - these have been the HUGEST hit with my class! At first I had two of our kneeler tables (ex coffee tables) with the stools for kids to work with - but these were too low and kids couldn't get their knees or legs under them. Then I did a scouting mission in the school furniture graveyard and found a great wee table. However, it is now too high!! No complaints from my class, they just LOVE the space, but I have asked the caretaker to cut the legs down a bit when he has some time.
Of course we also already have a very popular online group space, our class blog and links to our online learning games/activities.

Secret Space:
I am still thinking of ideas for a secret space. I am running short of space (!) and have no ideas on what to create one out of my current materials. However, during independent or buddy reading I have noticed they really enjoy jamming themselves into the reading area, going under the tables and squishing on the beanbags in the TV watching space.

Individual Working Spaces:
I have always used small, low kneeler board type tables in my classrooms. This year all I have been able to source is older style coffee tables, but these are used enthusiastically by students. I actively model and encourage students to move to these areas if they feel unable to work at a group working table for any reason. It is quite a good feeling to see a 6 year old comprehend and realise they are unable to concentrate at their group table and independently make the decision to move elsewhere to be able to focus on their learning.

Performing Spaces:
I have sourced an awesome giant roll of paper for use in an art area and am currently trying to decide where I could situate this.
I already have a very small creative writing space with pens, pencils, paper etc etc which is v
ery popular with my students. This term I have added some commercially produced activity books for my students to work on if they choose, they have a range of dot to dot and colouring in pages which fit with the developmental stages my students are at.
In developing my classroom spaces I had to dramatically reduce the size of my reading/library area. However my class do not seem to mind too much. We have all the usual book shelves, library books, children's writing to view, big books, topic books, poems etc.
My next step to develop my performing spaces is to establish my art area as mentioned above and also a maths area - this is sorely neglected in my classroom.

I still have a teacher desk in the classroom. Quite often the paper work monster spews itself all over it so I am keen to do something about it, but sensible enough to know that I will still need something. It truely, however, just a depository space. As a junior teacher, I am NEVER EVER sitting down at my desk during class time!
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