Thoughts on an Ideal English Classroom – Appearance

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So I’ve been thinking a lot about what an ideal reading and writing classroom should look like.  I’m also mindful that what seems perfect to my middle-aged brain might not be what middle schoolers will appreciate.  I’ve started assembling pictures I come across in Pinterest (  and I even have a notebook spilling over with notes, quotes, and pictures I’ve collected.  I have my color scheme of teal and lime green. (Even though starting a new job in a new school is stressful, it also comes with the bonus of starting with a clean slate, setting things up exactly as I want them to be.)

I know I will need more bookshelves.  At last count, I had over 1500 titles and am still finding books I want to buy.  The standard issue in my district is one small (3 shelf) bookshelf and one medium (5 shelf) bookshelf.  That is SO not going to cut it!  But I’m talking ideal here, not reality so here goes:

One wall is windows, on them (written in Crayola Window Markers) are quotes about writing and reading like these:

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”  Ernest Hemingway

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spend in reading…” Samuel Johnson

“Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.”  Ray Bradbury

“Writers live twice.”  Natalie Goldberg

“There area two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” Edith Wharton


As the year progresses, these quotes will be joined by ‘Golden Lines’ from the students’ own writing so they will feel the pull of being a ‘real writer’. I want it to be an interactive canvas AND a daily reminder of what we are all about in this classroom, the serious work of readers and writers.

Student desks are placed in 6 color coded cooperative groups, each with one extra desk in the middle to hold supplies. These teams are also the students’ Reading and Writing Groups where they will discuss what they are reading and provide feedback for one another’s writing. The teams are placed around a central rug and small couch, an adjustable floor lamp on each end. 

Two corners of the room are other reading areas. One corner has teal Adirondack chairs with soft green cushions, a small table and lamp between them.  Another corner has a Sisal rug with lots of body pillows and lapdesks (these have quotes by authors on them as well). A third corner has the computers (we get two per classroom) and the scanner the kids will use to check out books from the classroom library (I hope this part works as I’m tired of losing books each year!)  I’ve spent the summer loading all my books into Library Thing ( so it should be as easy as scanning the book, typing their name, and clicking. 

The Smart Board wall will serve three main functions; house the non-fiction and picture books (with an emphasis on books that relate to the history and science the kids will study this year), organize materials, and provide space for the ‘Parking Lot’ where kids can post questions or comments that we don’t have time to address in the moment. Also displayed here will be our current read aloud book and recommendations by students, displayed in plate holders (Michael’s has them for < $5.00,default,sc.html ). High on the wall on either side of the Smart Board are my vinyl words (Thanks, Cricut! 🙂 Read like a writer.  Write like a reader.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten so far.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!