When you decide to shift to a blended learning model, it forces you to think differently about everything in education, including the classroom setup. I decided to take the leap this year into flexible seating because students are constantly moving in blended learning, which lends itself to a different kind of classroom environment (think Google or Starbucks).
So here’s a little tour:
The first thing I did was get rid of half my desks. By repurposing two computer tables as space for eight students and my kidney table for 6 more, I’m able to have enough hard surfaces for each student to eat at or use a Chromebook if we ever do something on the computer whole class. But since I really only teach in small groups now, there was no need for everyone to have a desk. They will read at the comfy couch area during the Read To Self station and then choose a spot to work on their Chromebooks for the other two computer stations. They will choose from regular desks and chairs (11 all against the walls), a rolling chair, stool, or cushions (IKEA) on the floor. I removed the legs from the computer tables to make them lower. There’s also two yellow lap desks from Hobby Lobby ($6 apiece) in the reading area if students just want to work on the floor.
Here’s a look at the comfy reading area. Green couch ($15!), Big Joe bean bag ($2), and the saucer chair (99 cents) are all from the Goodwill Clearance Center. The rug is a 5×7 from Target ($50 – but I had a gift card). Lamps are from IKEA and each one was $10 or less.
This lap top cart is holding a class set of N22 Lenovo Chromebooks that I received from the CenturyLink Teachers & Technology Grant. As you can see from the stations on the board, students will meet with me and then get their computers to go into the Google Classroom station. Once they complete their online assignment, they will spend time on our adaptive reading software called Lexia. Finally, they will get a book and read to self in the comfy area.
Tracking Our Online Data
I am departmentalized this year so I will be teaching reading to two cohorts of students. We will use this data wall to track their growth through the levels in the Lexia adaptive computer program, as well as students who have the most minutes and most growth each week on the program.
Teacher-led Small Group Table
Last year, I tried cramming 8 chairs at this table and it was always a pain during transitions. I decided to purchase these awesome stools from IKEA ($5 each) so that I could fit 6 students at the table comfortably and also store the stools under the table or stack them when not in use.
Vocabulary Word Wall
One of the only portions of our day that is whole group is explicit vocabulary instruction. Our words will be posted here. I bought these Scrabble tiles from Amazon and reuse them each year. The fabric is a black flat twin sheet from Walmart that I stretched ($4) and the border is from the Target dollar section.
I saved a lot of room by turning one bookshelf in my classroom library sideways. I’ve always had this classroom library but spruced it up this year with the rug ($12) and table ($7) from IKEA.
Student Storage Area
When you ditch half the desks, students no longer have anywhere to store their stuff. So I took this teacher wardrobe and turned it into a student cubby area. There’s space for both classes of students. I swung the doors open on each side permanently so students wouldn’t have to open and close them all day.