I think about this a lot when I’m driving. What can I do to make sure my students think our classroom is a happy place? What kind of environment can I create that lets them start to associate reading and writing with a positive experience (if they don’t already)? I have a room with no windows and one shared foldable wall. (Luckily, the math teacher on the other side is very understanding about my Kagan cheers and music playing!)
I started with how the room looks. I love teal and lime green and I have no idea why, but it soothes me. Whenever I have to pick color for crafting, I gravitate towards those two colors. Maybe it’s earth, sky and water – let’s go with that. I also needed to brighten things up because of that perpetual HGTV phrase, “not a lot of natural light”.
So here is one corner of the room. We actually manage to use only the lamps, no fluorescents, for most of the time, and that helps with atmosphere. You can’t see in the pictures but the chairs say ‘READ’ on the backs, an idea I got from pinterest.com. The small lanterns are from Pier One. The bulletin board shows the settings of the books we are reading. We have almost all 50 states represented. Second semester we are going with a world map!
The students are in color coded teams with a desk in the center to hold team bins and books, etc. Although I like the idea of this extra desk, it does take up a lot of room so I’m not sure if it will continue. 7th graders need all the help they can get with organization, though, so it may be worth the extra space it takes.
On the other side of the room are the bookshelves with a rug and pillows for reading. These are some of my homeroom kids reading before classes start. I had no idea that 7th graders would enjoy this area so much. I have to rotate (and keep track of) who gets the chairs and who gets the rug so they won’t mutiny!
The green and blue bins hold picture books that coordinate with what the kids are studying in math and science. The shoebins have different genres of chapter books. On the top are magazines for those days when they just finished a book or feel like reading something short. Also, the plate holder displays show recommendations from other teachers on the team with signs that say, “Mrs. Eden recommends…” Eventually the students will start supplying their recommendations as well.
So, that’s my start at creating a happy reading place. I would love to hear your comments or suggestions. Next time, creating a happy writing place…