Last year, I started the year off with a vlog detailing the thinking behind the spaces in our classroom. As my teaching partner, Paula, and I set-up our room, we spent a lot of time talking about every decision that we made.
- Why did we put that item there?
- How many materials should we put out?
- How might we slightly modify each space to lead to some different learning?
- How does each area connect with the Four Frames?
- How might we support literacy and math instruction — through play — in each space?
- What might help our students self-regulate, and how have we addressed these different needs in our classroom design?
- How do these areas support the building of relationships?
- Knowing that Kindergarten students often come in at different developmental levels, how have we been cognizant of child development? What might we do to support children as needed?
- How can we provide a welcoming environment, while still being welcome to kids designing their own spaces and making the room their own?
At the end of the day, it’s nice to stand back and look at the
completed classroom (Jill‘s comment at the end of this post, has me editing this sentence now). And yes, I get that warm, homey feeling when looking at and walking through our room, but this isn’t enough for me. I want to share our story behind the decisions that we made, and the thinking behind where we might go next.
This year, in addition to creating micro-environments in our indoor classroom, we also carefully considered the layout and choices that we made in our outdoor classroom. Paula and I spent a lot of time setting the stage for learning. Our outdoor classroom space has largely been used for gross motor play in the past, and while the development of these gross motor skills is so important for kids, we think that this classroom area can be used for even more than that.
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Today, @paulacrockett and I tackled the outdoor classroom. Just like with our indoor classroom, we want to create different learning zones outside. Thanks to our fantastic caretakers, we now have the chalkboard under the tree for a quiet, shady space for kids to draw and write. We’ve created a natural painting zone outside for some additional sensory play, and we still have the big stumps and tires for gross motor play. We even made a mud kitchen. @paulacrockett recorded a video to explain more of her vision. Excited to see how this space evolves with the help of the team and the kids. ❤️ SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #ctinquiry #iteachk #teachersofinstagram #outdoorlearning
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This year, we really focused on our outdoor learning space. How could we set-up micro-environments outside? What are different things that kids need from this outdoor space? How do these different areas connect with Program expectations? Lots of deliberate choices here under the incredible leadership of my amazing teaching partner, @paulacrockett. I recorded, and will tweet out, a short video highlighting our thinking. Thoughts? How do you design your outdoor space for learning and as an extension of your indoor classroom? SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #ctinquiry #iteachk #teachersofinstagram #outdoorlearning
- What are some different ways that we can address and support self-regulation outside?
- How can we incorporate literacy and math into this outdoor classroom?
- How can we address and build on the different interests of kids?
- How can we create opportunities for social language and cooperative play, while also making space for quiet and independence?
This year is my T.P.A. (Teacher Performance Appraisal) year, and as such, I’m thinking about areas for professional growth. Further reflecting on the learning environment both indoors and outdoors — and creating an even greater connection between the two and the value in this for student success — are key things that I’m considering right now. I decided then to move from recording one vlog to recording two. I know that these videos are long, but I hope that they give you insight into our learning spaces and the thinking behind them.
I recorded this short video explaining our thinking behind this outdoor classroom space. Paula really inspired this area, and did a lot of the initial work in getting it going. Thoughts? How do you organize your outdoor classroom? https://t.co/EwaUCLNclk cc @john_gris
— Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca) August 30, 2018
What insights might you add to our reflections? What are some thoughts on your classroom space? Whether done orally, through a discussion, or in a blog post, I think there’s something to be said for this kind of reflection. Our rooms are more than pretty pictures, and after sharing our stories, I hope that you will also share yours.