One of the most daunting (and exciting!) tasks to complete before switching to a choice-based curriculum is configuring the classroom. Naturally, every classroom is a little different in terms of storage, tables, materials, wall surface, technology, and overall size. I am lucky to teach in a fairly large classroom with metal tables for grouping student and still have space for materials.
Before diving into the specifics, I thinks it’s important to reflect upon organizing and arranging skills in our lives. Personally, I would say I’m basically a Level 8 Organizer. I can safely say I’m more organized at work than at home. However, I’m not as organized or obsessed with organization as some of my primary educator colleagues (they’re all level 10’s). When it boils down to it, I’m obsessed with systems that keep materials and students moving smoothly. So when I started brainstorming ways I was going to arrange my classroom I had a few overall concepts I wanted to implement. For example:
- Students would find their own materials and bring them back to their table.
- The majority of the room will to be open to create a nice flow of movement.
- Establish a community of cleaners!
- Students should be able discover materials on their own.
Thus, I arranged my into six main areas:
I am also forchentant to have four sinks with storage underneath where students can store clay projects away from students who are are using paper mache or wood. I also use three additional large closet spaces, that are kept locked, to store materials like power tools, extra and speciality supplies, and hardware.
All of the areas are located on the sides of the room so students can access them with ease then bring them back to their table. I go into art teacher nerd mode when there’s four to five different materials being used at one table. An open studio also allows for students who are working with the same medium to sit together and learn from each other without my assistance. I notice this occurrence the most when students are learning to use clay or various sewing techniques. I find that secondary choice-based classrooms function better when utilizing an open studio approach compared to using stations which are more common in an elementary setting.