KinderGals: Classroom Set UP Your Questions Answered Here!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Classroom Set UP Your Questions Answered Here!

WOW, just WOW! Andy and I just spent a week seeing a very tiny part of our largest state, Alaska! I went kicking and screaming, not a fan of cold weather, but it was worth every shake and shiver! Soooooo, beautiful. Be sure and put it on your bucket list! While I was gone, I had scheduled the posts on classroom set up. I came home to quite a few questions about how we make it all happen in Megan’s room. I decided to just do a separate post and answer the questions.
The most popular question….What is on your tables and how do you do it?
We use the vinyl tablecloths that you can pick up in almost any retail store. Some of our favorites: Dollar General, Family Dollar, and Big Lots! These are usually the cheapest with the largest selection, but you can also find them in places like Target and Wal Mart. They usually run in price from $2-$6.
Since we change them seasonally, we are always looking AFTER the season to buy the ones for the next year. This way we can get them cheaper on clearance.
To attach them to the tables, here’s what we do:
Square tables:
*For square tables we use the double sided carpet tape.
*You can get this at places like Home Depot or anywhere that sells carpet.
*Peel off the paper from one side of the tape and stick it directly to the table.
*We run a strip along both of the long sides of the table.
*Now peel off the paper from the other side of the tape.
*It works best if you have help for this part: Each of you hold one side of the tablecloth and lower it to the table, pulling it tightly.
*It will stick to the tape.
Non Square Tables:
*These take a little more work!
*Be sure and buy the longest rectangular table cloths, I can’t remember the length!
*Lay the tablecloth on the table and trim around the cloth leaving enough over hang to tape the cloth UNDER the table.
*Then, just cut and tape as you move around the table.
*If a hole is torn in the cloth, and it will, simply cover with a piece of clear tape.
The next most popular question: Where do you get those foam squares?
You can actually get them in lots of places. They sell packs of them at Lowes, Sam’s, and several other places like that. The only problem with those places is the color selection. Since Megan wanted to have purple and green squares, (I had used the red, yellow and green that were in Lowes), she found a place on line where you can order by the color. The good thing about this…you can order a few or as many as you need. So now she can replace a few squares each year that might have been damaged.
Here is the place where she ordered them:
We also had some questions about Reader’s Workshop:
“How long do students keep their books and do you have them shop on a certain day of the week?”
“And, are the initial books not from your classroom library that is so beautifully organized?”
So first of all, here is the organization that she is referring to. We divide our library into 5 libraries and have them divided around the room. You can read more about it on our centers post (here).
Here is how we start the year with book shopping. After a series of mini lessons from our Blasting Off with Reader’s Workshop using the anchor chart above, we are ready to shop for books.  We use the collection of books that were used for the active engagement portion of the mini lessons for our first book shopping session. We lay out the books from each of the 3 mini lessons, reminding the children of how we can “read” those books, and allow them to select a few.
1. So each child will have a baggie of 6-10 books that they have selected. They are stored in the green tubs that you see above unless it is Reader’s Workshop time.
2. Once a child reaches an independent A level, 95% accuracy, we also start adding leveled books from our leveled library. See the picture above.
3. We change the books every few weeks. You will know if you have waited too long to change their collection if their stamina decreases! To change the collection, we simply remove the books from the baggies and allow them to select 6-10 new books.
4. As far as shopping in the classroom library….we usually wait until they are “all set” in the process. It usually takes about a month or so before we open up the library.
5. We open the class library gradually, to a few children at a time. Opening it to the whole class is chaos! How do I know that? How do you think!? Winking smile
6. All of the detailed mini lessons are included in our Reader’s Workshop Unit 1.
Here’s another question:
“Please share how you use your 'reading buddies' and share how you introduce this (and when). To your Ks. I've always wanted to use this idea but haven't tried it yet.”
1. We introduce working with a partner in month 2 during our Powerful Partnership Unit.
2. It takes us a WHOLE month to really teach children how to read, talk, and share books with partners.
3. Each bullet from each chart is a separate mini lessons.
4. We change partners about every 2 weeks. Again, if their partner stamina decreases, you have probably waited too long to change partners. We use the reading buddy chart and attach their pictures with velcro.
5. Partners have the same, or close to the same, reading ability.
6. Their partner working time is usually half as long as the stamina they are built working independently.  So if they have a 6 minute stamina of working by themselves, now add on 3 more minutes of partner time. They will now have a 9 minute stamina.
6. Detailed Mini Lessons and the anchor charts are included in our Reader’s Workshop Unit 2.

The last question is one that I hear all the time? “Just how big is that room?” To tell you the truth, I have never measured. So I sent Megan a text and told her to measure and here’s what we found out. It is: Oops....sorry we forgot to take the measuring tape.  Look back later for the answer!

The main reason it looks so big is the absence of  a “table spot” for each child. We assign our kids a carpet spot and do all of our large group teaching from there.  Be sure and check back to some of the other posts on classroom set up and I think that it will all make sense on how we make that work.
Thanks guys for all of your questions. As always, blogs are interactive. So it is great to hear your comments and questions!
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Cugrad said...

I started from day one (literlt) using your RW unit this year. Although I've done some of the same lessons in the past, I really enjoy the order yours goes in and how it is set up. Also, last year I went with your idea of having no student desk/tables. I must admit I was a tad skeptical at first but I absolutely LOVE it!! There is tons ,ore space and I am able to monitor their work better and take less time doing it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kim and Megan,

I have taught Reading Workshop for the past few years, but am loving using your units this year! I'm wondering, in terms of reading partner, what your thoughts are when there is an odd number of students in your class. It's always such a dilemma for me! Would love to hear your thoughts...

Kim and Megan said...

Having an odd number makes everything a little more challenging. When I have an odd number, I make a trio. At that point, I also consider which children are mature enough to share with 3 people. Also, if I have a non verbal child, I will put that child in the trio. That way, they are listening even if they can't respond.

Anonymous said...

Very helpful advice, thank you!

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