Saturday, 4 October 2014

How to Set Up a Middle School Classroom

This is my eighth year of setting up a classroom. I was very excited to set up my classroom this summer because I was moving into a new room. I had been in my old room for three years and it was time to move and purge all the things I never use.

1. Buy a large cup of coffee and pre-load your iPod with get moving songs because you will be moving for a long time. It took me three days to set up my classroom to functional use, and at least two more days to get it looking nice enough for me to want to spend time in it.

2. Fight with the adjustable shelves until you break not only your nails but a finger or two! 


3. Look through all of your classroom library bins and get excited when you find prizes left by former students: cookies, juice boxes and some granola bar wrappers. 
Bonus if you find unopened food! 

4. Make sure to leave space for your math word wall. After all the time you spend decorating the area around it make sure to actually refer to it in your teaching. 
I will be putting this word wall and poster set up.

  

 5. Students who finish early can visit the challenge bin for meaningful activities to complete that will compliment our current big ideas and learning goals.

6. My students always forget what subjects they have when. I would too if I did not use my day book religiously. OK, I will be honest, sometimes I get the days of the week mixed up. "No more extra Gym or Art" said no kid ever! I made my bilingual English and French calender headers this year to spice up the schedule board. 

 

 7. Have students manage the homework board so it becomes more meaningful to them. Refer to it at least once a day as a visual reference for due dates and important events.

 8. Help students stay organized by keeping an up to date table of contents for each subject you teach. It helps students figure out what lesson they missed when they were absent.

 9. Students can increase their achievement in any subject area by using a Bump It Up Board. See this blog post for specific instructions on how to create a bump it up board. You can also purchase the 4 R's Assessment Bundle or Bump It Up Board Headers featured in this photo.

 

 10. Keep your small group area clean so you can quickly get started on instruction and students have a place to work.

 11. I was lucky that my school custodian was able to drill the pocket chart and chart paper into the cinder block so I could save space. Stand alone holders take up a lot of space in the middle school classroom.

12. I finally found a reliable method to reclaim shelf space for other things besides textbooks! 

 13. I will never hear "But I don't remember the words."

 14. To whisk away the rainy day blues.

 15. Don't get too excited this is taken before school actually started and before three million things get handed to me daily.

16. This is my solution to being interrupted during small group instruction for materials. 
 17. I use these daily to keep students moving around the classroom. The best investment of $30 at the dollar store.

 18. All assessments, rubrics and success criteria go home to be signed and then returned to each student's assessment folder. The folders are assigned by number on the class list so I can reuse them every year.

19. I have only used this bin once in my eight years, but on that dreadful morning, it was a blessing to write into my plans "use emergency lessons". I also write into my plans that if a lesson does not work properly, then they can always turn to this bin for tried and true lessons. 

Do you have any photos of your classroom? I would love to see how you set up the space. Leave me links in the comments below. 
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