Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Classroom Organisation in a Flexible Learning Space ~ Getting The Job Done ~

Do you ever cringe at updating the weekly jobs list in your classroom or you let it lapse for two maybe three weeks? I certainly have been guilty of both crimes and the children reminded me of it! What I disliked was the time it took to negotiate, designate and record the job roster.

I have created a notebook file for the SmartBoard in the past but that lost its impact (for both myself and the children). Last year I discovered Pinterest. It's a virtual pinboard where you pin images and links to sites of all of the things you love. It's free to join and highly addictive. You can become inspired and discover different ways of doing things.

I came across this idea of the jobs ladder/peg cards from a Pin that someone had shared. I really liked the simplicity of the idea. I had a look at the types of jobs that needed to be done to make my gathering space work. In a flexible learning space, it is important for the children to have ownership of areas, and that can be achieved through responsibilities given over to them. In a traditional classroom, this is important as well.

The jobs I have created are in the table below. A brief description is also supplied of what is required.

Number of students
·         Add bins each day
·         Insert bin liners to bins
·         Collect and place eating cloths onto the floor before eating times
·         Collect and fold eating cloths after eating times
·         Transport homeroom trolley to work areas within the learning space
·         Check that stationery is tidy
·         Dispose used or damaged stationery items e.g. glue etc and inform teacher of any shortages
book tubs
·         Ensure that all book tubs are neat and that all student work books are placed correctly within them
·         To maintain that the bookshelves are neat and organised
·         To vacuum the carpet in the gatherine space after eating times
table group helpers
·         Handout and collect books, worksheets and stationery students need when commencing or completing tasks
·         To assist if other students are absent and cannot complete job assigned
·         To assist if more students are needed to complete a job/task

 All of the students at my school eat inside before going outside to play. We have a cordless vacuum that the children use to vacuum up the crumbs. This is the most popular job! A picture of it is below.

To designate jobs, you simply need a packet of pegs. Write each students name onto the pegs. I chose a mulit-coloured packet to make the job easier. The children recognise their pegs when you go searching. Simply attach the peg to the side of the job card and it's done. Simple!

I also decided to have the job week start and conclude on a Wednesday. Monday is always busy with homework etc and it's less pressure on the timetable.

I really like this system. The children have easy access to it and it's fun. I used this system in term four last year. At the beginning of the year, my old students told me that they shared this system with their new teacher/s. One student also said, "Miss McGrath found it on Pinterest!"

If you would like to see the original Pin where this idea came from, click here to the link to my Pinterest board. It's such a great idea and can easily be adapted to whatever your needs are. It certainly helps to get the job done.

Thanks for stopping by!

post signature

Friday, 26 April 2013

A Quiet Space in a Flexible Learning Space

Some Background Info

I teach at Santa Maria del Monte Strathfield. Last year (2012), I joined the Year Three team. Year three is situated in a purpose built flexible learning space which means all of the year three students plus their teachers (three) work together in one large space. Working in such a space is brand new to me. I have been teaching in a traditional classroom since 1995 and this type of learning space was foreign to me.

Ar the conclusion of term two last year, the year three team met in the holidays to redesign the space. My two colleagues have been working in the space for approx 18months prior to me joining the team. The challenge we faced was  "How do we move away from operating as separate classes (comfort zone)  and to utilise the space for its flexibility and to maximise its potential?"

We sought advice from another colleague. The beauty of working at Santa Sabina College is that we are a P-12 College and have staff members who offer their support and expertise across campuses. The Director of Mary Bailey House (early education campus 0-5) offered some advice and practical solutions.  Using the Reggio Emilia approach we can view the environment as the third educator.

The arrangement of structures, objects and activities encourages choices, problem solving, and discoveries in the process of learning. In preparing the space, teachers offer the possibility for children to be with the teachers and many of the other children, or with just a few of the children, or even alone. Teachers are aware, however, that children also learn from their peers, especially when they can interact in small groups. Gandini (1993 p.6)

After looking at the learning space together, we needed to find and define smaller spaces within the learning space. One solution to achieve this is by placing furniture strategically to define an area and to direct the traffic flow within the learning space. We then defined spaces in terms of purpose. One space that we created was The Quiet Space.

The purpose of this space is that is an area that is quiet. The children can use this area for different purposes. These include:
  1. silent reading
  2. a private area to talk to friends or to engage in a quiet activity
  3. a place to go to to become calm, e.g. if they are upset from an incident after a playbreak and need some 'quiet time.'
Two portable shelving units define the areas. Portable cubes, cushions and a lamp give the space a feeling of being at home. The leaf attached to wall was purchased so that the children can nestle under it for some comfort. The addition of plants add to the aesthetics of the area.

The feedback from the children was overwhelming. They really loved the space and valued its intended purpose. Later we established committees where the children had some input as to how the spaces operated. I will explain these in a later post.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

New Blog

Hello everyone! I have just started a new blog, an educational one which centres around teaching. I hope that this blog will a place where I can share resources, ideas and also my learning about educational challenges. I also hope to develop my PLN (professional learning network) through this blog as well.

I am still adding things to the blog...so stay posted.

Thanks for stopping by.