Sunday, April 1, 2007

small group reading area makeover and more

Makeover #1- SMALL GROUP TEACHING AREA... before and after

This week I helped a teacher regain control of her small group teaching area. She had gotten rid of her desk, since she wasn't using it. But her small group table had become a dumping ground. She had great shelves and a bulletin board by her table, but they weren't being fully utilized.

How did we accomplish this makeover? By sorting through all that stuff on the shelves and the table! "Throw it away!" was my mantra this day. We added labels to help her keep on track. At Home Depot I found a desk drawer organizer that we placed on a shelf to organize her desk supplies which were disappearing all over the room. We used colored baskets to hold teaching materials for each of her small groups for the week.

For more ideas on organizing for small group reading instruction, see Chapter 2 in Making the Most of Small Groups at
MAKEOVER #2- LITERACY WORK STATIONS... a work in progress

Gretchen and Pam put finishing touches on the classroom library by adding a rug.

Everyone got into the act on this one! Gretchen led this project and Pam was here from Baton Rouge.We asked everyone to help, including the custodians and paraprofessionals who could use tools and paintbrushes! We hung a pegboard in the writing station to organize supplies. A bulletin board was moved from one part of the room to the writing station, too, so we could post kids' writing there.

We totally transformed this portable building. Organizing the multitudinous supplies, getting rid of old stuff, and adding rugs, paint, and fabric to brighten this room made all the difference! I'll post the after pics of this one next week. We just about finished it on Friday afternoon.

MAKEOVER #3- my bookshelves...edited

After spending most of the week helping teachers get organized to improve literacy instruction, I decided to tackle my own living room. I "edited" the space, especially those bookshelves where I tend to just stack stuff.

In the BEFORE picture (on top), you'll see all the books stacked on the bottom right hand corner. Those are my "next read" piles. My friend, Josie, came over and helped me get started with this project. First, she had me sort my books by size. Quite a new concept for me, since I'd always sorted by genre before. But the books do look better on the shelves! Not suggesting this for your classroom library, but it works in my living room!

I donated about six shopping bags of books to a local charity and now smile when I enter this room. Less is more!!!

Happy spring,


Monday, March 26, 2007

love those drama work stations!

Recently, in Lee County, VA I saw several wonderful drama work stations in action!

This kindergarten class is retelling a familiar story with felt pieces. After working with it several days in a row, the teacher puts the book and the pieces in the drama station for kids to use for practice.

In this photo, kindergarten students retell
The Great Big Enormous Turnip with pieces
that have velcro stuck on the back. They use
the book to help tell the story.

Here, a kindergarten child reads the Mrs. Wishy Washy big book and then dresses up to play the role of the main character. Love the props that make this book come alive for the kids! Just add a wash tub, a sponge for scrubbing, and farm animals and watch those kids tell that story.

Guess I'm revved up by these ideas, since I just returned from a trip to NYC this past weekend. While there, I worked with teachers in West Babylon on Long Island. They were so excited about literacy work stations in K-6 and are interested in getting more out of small groups. For fun, I spent one day in Manhattan and another in the Hamptons!

Stay tuned to my blog. I finally figured out how to insert more than one picture. Hooray! Now to work on formatting.
Baby steps.

Happy Reading,

Friday, March 16, 2007

Classroom Makeovers

Back home in Houston. Just missed all that snow falling on the east coast!

We are getting ready for "classroom makeovers" in Pearland ISD. Gretchen has been shopping at Home Depot getting lots of goodies to use in six classrooms. Can't wait to see the end results. Here are some photos of the stuff she got today!

Did you know you could find such cool stuff at Home Depot for your classroom? Rugs, bookshelves, pillows, and lamps for your classroom library. Paint buckets for storing materials. Chalkboard and magnetic paint for transforming ugly cabinets into useful spaces.

Stay tuned for photo updates of these classrooms... if I can figure out how to import more than one photo into these postings!


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