Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Teaching With Intention Chapter 3 Linky

Hey everyone! I'm back for another week of Teaching With Intention book study that the fabulous Mr. Greg (The Kindergarten Smorgasboard) started.  Today's chapter is about Environment, Environment, Environment!  Not going to lie, I was kinda giddy to read this one.  I may spend countless hours looking at other classrooms on Pinterest.

Environment, Environment, Environment (gosh why is that word so hard for me to spell..every...single..time)

Debbie Miller starts off Chapter 3 suggesting us to "Clear the decks!".  Did anyone else read that in a pirate voice?
* Get rid of things you don't need!  This is a hard one.  But, make the 3 piles that she suggests (keep, someone else might want it, and trash).
* Clearing physical clutter clears mental clutter.  That is so very true!  When I organize and get rid of stuff every August, I feel so much better.

I also love her suggestion of making a table and filling it in.  I decided to make version to print and take with me when I get back into my room in August and start organizing and purging of items.  It's a *FREEBIE*.

Creating your thinking classroom...

This next sections is important as far as your room arrangement.  Debbie Miller answers some questions about meeting areas, small group areas, library areas, and about desk configuration.  This kind of seems like a "duh" section.  But think back to your first year of teaching?  These were huge and valid questions.  I am currently struggling with moving my carpet area (meeting area), moving it away from the SmartBoard and putting it in one of my corners.  When I read how she had hers arranged, I was immediately thought that I should at least try it.  I may not have room but we will see.  :)  

Below are some of the areas of the room she mentioned and what it looks like in my room.

You can see that currently my meeting area is the big colorful rug in front of the board.  I'm thinking of moving it where my library area is (the green carpet corner).  Somewhat combining the two (having more book bins in other places as well plus other spots to read in the room).

Here's my small group table (or my teacher table as I like to call it).  It's hard to see but on the shelf behind it, I have tubs with the 4 main levels of readers we read in kindergarten that came with our reading series and some from the old series.  I have lots of Scentos and Mr. Sketch back there!  I also keep some of my binders such as running records and writing conferences.  The little colorful drawer cart stores lots of small group and RTI activities.  

Here's my library area.  The no one true library area scares me, but also makes sense.  I loved how she suggests spreading out tubs of books between different areas so you don't have a mob scene.  I have had the occasions where the mob is in full effect and a kid falls on or over that chevron bean bag.  That's when we stop and relearn how the flow of the library works and practice.  Spreading bins in different areas would definitely help

Thinking about room arrangement...

* Push everything to one side or out of the room.  Look objectively at your room or possibly even with a friend!  
* Work with what you have!
* I love how she says good teaching is on us, not on the room.
* In her lists of suggestions, it said to replace rusty and old trashcans!  Ha.  I have 3 of them!  I'm pretty sure they have been at our school since it opened in the 60s!
* Tables or desks, whatever works for long as you can group them together well to encourage students working together.  Side note: Oh how I despise desks.  I teach kindergarten and I can't even imagine getting them to have their inside of their desks organized.  Eeek!  

Thinking about organizing books and materials...

I'm sensing a reoccurring theme here in this section...involve the students!  Show them how to use the materials and trust them to use them.  It's hard to trust a kindergartener, especially the first month or so of school.  But, I always try to give my kids more credit than some do.  As far as organizing books, in a sense I do involve my students in that on occasion.  Some days throughout the year when I start noticing the trends of what they enjoy reading I ask them what book tub of books like would like to be on the shelf (that isn't already out there).  Last year's class wanted books about I found some I already had and found some cheap nonfiction and age appropriate books about community helpers.  I should really do that more.  :)  

I also love how Debbie Miller says that it's okay to have bare bulletin boards and empty areas because soon those will be filled with things when the learning starts.  This reminds me of Maria Manore's (Kindercraze) blog post about how she had a pretty empty room and sparsely decorated at the beginning of the year because of lack of time before the first day or a move.  She put pictures up of what the room looked like the first bit of school, and then later on in the year.  It's okay for everything not to look perfect!  I will definitely find that post later and link it on here.  

This was a great chapter.  It got me thinking about my classroom and is arrangement.  It's June and I already want to get in there and purge some unwanted or needed items.  I'm also ready to try to move my meeting area.  This will have to wait until late July/early August when I'm allowed back in.  


  1. I just got done "clearing the decks" and it felt great! I definitely want to work on the having minimal up at the beginning of the year. I have learned that if you put instructional stuff up before the kids it just becomes wallpaper. If you teach them it and then hang it up, it becomes theirs and they use it more. Thanks for linking up!

    The Learning Chambers

  2. I agree that the library area spread around the room scares me, but it totally makes sense!! Can't wait to see how you move things next year!!

    Mrs. 3rd Grade 

  3. I adore your room. It makes sense to me, and even from pictures looks very inviting.

    Take the plunge with your library. I have books in bins all over the place, and it really serves as an invitation for the kids to read wherever they are in the room. You might look at Kim Adsit's room set-up. She does a great job explaining how to spread the library across the room without giving up organization.

    1. Thank you so much for that suggestion about Kim's room. I just looked it up. :) I liked it.