11 Aug

1. Set the Stage: Helping Kids Become World Class Readers and Scholars!

Back-To-School Time already! All summer I’ve written about summer reading projects, themes, great read-alouds and how-to overcome the infamous “summer slide”.

Today I’m sharing a couple of interesting links including: 

  • Room organization (Edutopia)
  • Kindergarten classroom (Kindergarten Smorgasboard)
  • Classroom Visuals (guest post by Debbie Clement)

My ideal classroom has no teacher desk, less furniture the better, other than a comfortable mix of tables or flat surfaces for writing, centers, room to move and explore, etc. Lighting should be natural or have a standing light ready for the student who needs it. Dim the lights to calm kids down. Play Baroque music. That’s all part of room environment. Some kiddos like it quiet, some like it loud. SO you get the fun of mixing things up. I taught in many ideal classrooms, but ideal is what works for you.

You can either design your environment before the kids arrive, or let them help you organize and create. Just be sure to allow for creative play, pre-8th, (DAP), developmentally appropriate activities and room designs supporting not only your tech, but time-tested print and language rich wall print and word walls.

Take a look at this Kindergarten classroom. See how a print and language rich environment might look for littles. Look closely at the organization and types of print.

2. Include three types of print in your teaching room:

  1. Environmental print: Use signs and print a student might see daily  in the environment.
  2. Functional print: This print provides information. You might include charts, such as sign-in, helpers, good morning messages, centers rotation and “how-to”.
  3. Dramatic play print: For younger children, this means words related to going to the doctor, shopping, etc. Older dramatic play includes Readers’ Theatre, poetry, choral reading, etc.

Post word lists, how to instruction charts etc. on Word Walls and in old fashioned pocket charts. Make sure all the kids can see visuals from where they are sitting or working.

Label as many classroom items as appropriate for the grade level. Make sure any charts are clear to read and large enough to be seen. If you are teaching or tutoring at home, use any available wall space.

Make sure you have areas already established with your media, tables for old fashioned process writing or journaling, quiet study, art, comfortable reading nooks and crannies and an abundant amount of paper, pencils, pens, markers, glue etc. Nothing you don’t already know.

You may start the year with your room fully decorated, or have the kiddos help you. Whatever works best is best. The challenge is to be organized, colorful, yet not so cluttered that the environment is distracting. Some students need it lighter, some darker, some kids may work better on a pillow on the floor while others need to sit up in a chair.

3. Most importantly, make sure your room, however big or small, is overflowing with eye catching books of many genres and reading levels to generate loads of interest. Mix it up with narrative and info-text. Picture books, graphic novels, classics. Whatever interests students is perfect for students.

I’d love to hear from you! In the meantime, check out lots of lesson starters, interesting resources and inspirational thoughts on my FB page, and Twitter @RitaWirtz.

See you tomorrow!


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