The morning after Riley, Allie and I worked our magic, kids were greeted with this question on the easel:
To watch their eyes as they came in and saw the changes was priceless (and no, I don’t have any pictures of it. Sorry!). I think my favorite response, though, was Mara’s. She said, “Wow–it looks AMAZING!!”
After kiddos had a chance to check out the new layout, we went through strict directions of how each zone was meant to work–at least the general idea of them. I walked everyone around really slowly and explicitly showed them around, looking at the supplies that were in each space, talking through why we put it where we did and explaining the way Riley had thought through the process of building the new classroom. I’m pretty sure this took at least 40 minutes. I meant business.
Next I had kiddos rotate through each zone, thinking through what the “rules” should be for that section of our room. Each small group had a turn in each zone, and took time jotting their ideas on the chart paper placed in each area.
Next I let kiddos choose a place to begin and we practiced what it would be like to work in each new place in our room. Ok, thinking about it now, we should have done this practice part FIRST so that they could better think about the “rules” part, but now I’ll know for next time. It worked out ok the way we did it.
Kiddos chose the place they wanted to start, and then everyone spent about 10 minutes in each zone, trying it out, getting a feel for how it would function for us. They had a choice of what to do there, but had to make sure that they followed the guidelines of the space–that they were silent in the ZERO ZONE, that they were reading in the READING ZONE, etc. They were VERY excited about this. As with the last part, this took close to an hour of very focused time as we learned to use our new room in an appropriate way.
The next day we thought through how the zones had worked for us. I asked them to tell us what they liked and what they would change:
So far I think I can say that this has been one of the most positive things that has happened in our community this year. I know it is so because of work we’ve done along the way, but the instant changes that happened in the volume of our voices, the number of incidences of disengagement and the increased student engagement have been obvious. The kiddos seem more at ease, more motivated and happier. Who would have thought that could happen with just a little bit of a furniture switch-around? Ok, well I, at least, hoped it would have. 🙂