Sunday, September 11, 2011

Literacy Classroom Photos

Are you a literacy coach or reading teacher looking to remake your classroom or small office space?

Maggie, a teacher in Brooklyn wanted to create a space that would allow for these two things:

  • a place for teachers to gather and plan curriculum
  • a place to teach small groups of students who need more support in reading and writing

She worked hard, with an incredible team, to create a classroom make-over.

Above:  Curriculum mapping board.  Tables for teachers to gather are in front of this board.

Above:  List of PD workshops, locations, and directions.  
Dates for on-site PD will be listed on the posters at the bottom of the board.

Above:  Maggie, seated in front of the professional text shelves.  
Her meeting area for the kids is behind this shelf and books for their classroom library are on the opposite side of this tall shelf as well as in a lower set of shelves that run perpendicular to this one.  
This shelf breaks the room into two zones, one for kids and one for teachers.

Above:  Each teacher has a pocket to hold notecards.  Teachers can jot the titles of the professional books they need and place the notecard in their pocket so texts can be located and shared.

Above:  This is the shelf opposite the professional text shelf where Maggie was seated in the other photo.  These shelves contain baskets for series books as well as nonfiction topics.  
Maggie also has a few bins for mentor text to use in writing workshop as well as genre specific read aloud books she knows she wants to use throughout the year.

You can give your literacy room or coaching room a makeover too!  Here is how we started.  First, we asked a key question and we gathered lots of answers to it.

Question:  What do we want out of this space?


  • Meeting area for kids to gather with comfortable seating and an easel or smart board for teacher.
  • Classroom library that supports the needs of the students and has clearly organized bins.
  • Writing center with paper choices and revision tools that support the needs of the students and has clearly organized zones or buckets.
  • Bulletin board to display student work.
  • Tables for students to work independently and with partners.
  • Folders and folder hold areas for students to keep their work and have access with independence.
  • Bulletin board to post workshop dates and on-site PD notices.
  • Bulletin board to display curriculum maps and units of study resources.
  • Tables for teachers to gather with writing tools at the center.
  • Bookshelves with professional texts for teachers and a bulletin board with pockets for teachers to jot the titles of the books they check out and take into their own classrooms.
Then, we divided the work into the zones, each took on tasks, and stuck true to our needs to have all the things we wanted in the room with no clutter.

I hope you enjoy your own classroom makeovers.  Have a super week everyone!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Morning "Do Now" in a Workshop Classroom

Are you thinking about the first 5 minutes of your school day and wondering how you can get everyone in the room, unpacked, and started with academic work quickly?

Or are you wondering how you can fit all the academic work you want to into a school day?  Thinking through your morning "Do Now" routine may be helpful.

Of course many of us begin our day with attendance, collecting notes, and then sitting down for a morning meeting at the rug.  We can keep our kids working hard during these first 5-10 minutes before the morning meeting - and we can give them meaningful work to do.

I like to start the school day in Pre-k and K (and even first and second grade) with 5-10 minutes of an academic activity that gets kids talking, and capitalizes on their morning energy.  Here are some options you may want to try:

  • 4-6 Kids a day do their book shopping for reading workshop.
Remember to keep this schedule posted so students know their shopping days.  I like to invite the books shoppers to enter the classroom first, so they can unpack and get 5-10 minutes for book shopping in the classroom library.

  • Storytelling time with partners.  

Kids often come to school wanting to tell teachers stories and so giving them a few minutes in the morning to sit at the rug and tell stories is powerful - and it helps them plan stories for writing workshop. I have seen teachers teach kids to hold out their three fingers and tell stories across fingers (just like we do in writing workshop) each morning.  Kids sometimes retell old favorites - and even stories from the classroom.  Some teachers keep a box of field trip photos handy to help kids tell stories.  This picture shows a drawing from a story some kindergarten kids told about a fire drill.

  • Singing a song or reading a poem together at the rug.
Teachers can give students the job of pointing to the words of the song or poem on a chart/smart board. The guest pointer can start the music and use the pointer.  As kids come to the rug, they can join in the singing or chanting.

  • Word Study Sorts
Click here to see the posting on teaching word study sorts to help you get word study up and running.  Then, once it is running smoothly in your classroom, invite students to do their sorting first thing when they enter the room.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thank You Teachers!

Read Write and Play is celebrating its first birthday and the milestone of 100 followers thanks to all of you dear readers.

This summer was filled with more and more of your thoughtful questions, great stories, and beautiful cities.  I celebrated hard work in person with teachers in Wisconsin, Texas, and Seattle.  I met teachers from all over the country as well as teachers from schools in South America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Australia at the summer institutes at Teachers College.  I can see all of you from all corners of the globe looking at pictures here on the blog.  Thank you for being part of this community.

I wish you all a great school year and many happy stories with your students.  I'll be here and will continue to post all the things that inspire my teaching as well as the teaching I see in your classrooms that inspires me.

I took this picture at the Ace Hotel after having dinner with some of my teacher friends in NYC this summer.  I think it will be my back-to-school mantra.  It reminds us all to dig deep, take a risk, and teach our hearts out.

Happy New Year Everyone!  Here is to you and another great year of sharing great stuff from our reading, writing, and choice time workshops!