Our Classrooms

We have totally revamped our classrooms and we are so excited about how it turned out. The best part? Our kiddos LOVE the new layout and are thriving in their new environment. Here are a few pics from Amy's room.

Here is a pic of the room from the doorway of Amy's classroom.

This is our gathering area. Students sit here on the floor and bench during the focus lesson. When we move to group or individual work, they make a choice on where they feel they can work best. Below are pictures showing the several places students can choose from. 

They are able to sit in partnerships at the window.

Individual desks allow students to work on their own.

This is the center of the room. Students can sit at the stools in groups of four.

This area is used for small group work when additional instruction is necessary.

Comfort is so important! We spend more wake hours at school than we do at home. I want my kids to feel comfortable!

Since we do not have traditional desks, students needed a space to keep their materials. Each student has a white magazine box to keep the few odds and ends they have (most materials are kept in a community bins). Students also have a Literacy Binder which contains all of their Reading and Writing materials and a "Keepin' it All Together" binder where they keep a "To-do" pocket, "Math" pocket, "Science" pocket, and a "Social Studies" pocket. Everything is kept in various book shelves around the room to help with the flow of traffic when students are asked to get particular materials.

Students keep their library books in these numbered bags and there are two racks (thank you hubby!) to help the flow of traffic when getting their book bags.

Check back for more photos, including pics of Mollie's room.

36 comments:

  1. Hi, love your classrooms! I just rearranged mine like yours and can't wait for my kiddos too see it after Christmas break. One question. How will you handle testing in this environment? Thanks!!!

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    1. Hi there! You are going to love it and so are your kiddos! Our kids sit around the room wherever they feel comfortable for testing. We find with so many that like to sit on the floor or stand at the counter, it really isn't an issue to spread them out. We ask that they are mindful that it is an assessment and that they do not sit too close to someone. As for those students who do sit at tables, we have them use their binder standing up to create a private work area. So excited for you and this new adventure! Best of luck!

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    2. I love your classrooms! There's so much space and light!

      It's very important that children feel comfortable when they are tested - it might take some time to get used to this system (especially for the teachers), but I'm sure it will help them a lot in the future. Keep up the good work!

      Ilinca from Grumpy Dumpling

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  3. I am in love with this type of classroom layout! I'm only a freshman in college (Elementary Ed major) but it is teachers like you two that continue to inspire me! I noticed that you live in the West Michigan area and I was hoping that maybe one day I could visit your classroom to see how you run a typical day?? I am definitely pinning this blog for future reference!!

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    1. Hi there Dana! You are too sweet! We would love to have you come visit! We are just wrapping up our first year with this set-up and we have LOVED it! Feel free to email us at twonuttyteachers@gmail.com and we can set something up!

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  4. Love this and am considering this for my second graders next year. My question is with behavior issues. Do you have students to whom you assign a seat? I

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    1. We have a system in place that allows each kid to start on "Student Choice" and if they are not making good choices, they may have to move their name to "First Notice". If a student continues to make a poor choice once they are "First Notice" they are then asked to move their name to "Teacher Choice" and we do assign them a seat. We do not have a set seat in the classroom where kids sit who are not able to make good decisions. It changes constantly depending on where the other kiddos are sitting. We used it more frequently at the beginning of they year and have not had to use it much at all this spring. If a student is consistently on "Teacher Choice" it may be a good idea to designate a spot for them until they prove they are ready to make better choices. I did have to do that at one point early on but it did not last very long. The kids are very motivated to have this freedom of choice and they will work hard to keep the privilege. We also use Class Dojo in our classrooms and it is WONDERFUL! It really helps with classroom management and we love that it communicates with our parents in real time! I hope this helps!

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    2. Would you chose this classroom design with younger students? I teach 2nd and LOVE this format...Am already thinking about next year!

      Also, do you have an ELMO - or projector that you use when teaching certain lessons? How do you have the students sit? In their student choice seat?

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    3. I think this classroom design would be great with younger students. Actually, I was just talking with my kiddos today about the classroom design (Mollie and I are going to survey our kids to get their feedback at the end of the year) and one of them commented on the fact that they haven't had that much choice since they were in Kinder!

      I will NEVER go back to desks! This year was a challenging year. We had kiddos who were very chatty and needed a lot of movement. I think this classroom design saved us and allowed us to accomplish great learning with our kiddos by meeting their needs.

      We do have document cameras and we use them constantly. (Mollie and I are both PowerPoint nuts!) We also have created lessons using the ActivInspire program for all of our Math lessons. During our whole group lessons our students sit in the "gathering area" or "learning space" which consists of a bench and the floor. This is located right in front of our projector. When students are released to work in small groups or independently, they are able to choose where they sit in the room. This consists of tables for two or four people and desks for students to work independently. We also allow students to use clipboards and to sit around the room on the floor. They love the choice! Students are welcome to choose where they sit as long as they make good choices. If they are unable to make a choice that gives them the opportunity to be productive, we make a choice for them. This happened more frequently in the fall and was not used much at all (if any) for the remainder of the year.

      We love to talk about this classroom design because we really believe in it! If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to ask!

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  5. Also, what are the dimensions of your classroom?

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    1. We are very fortunate to have pretty good size classrooms. Both of our rooms are 30 x 30. :)

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  6. How many students do you teach in this classroom? What grade level?

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    1. We both teach fourth grade. Mollie currently has 27 students and I have 26. :)

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  7. I am really thinking about rearranging my room similar to this. I was planning to have my students, 4th- and 5th-graders, help redesign before the end of the year. That way I could get student input and try it out to see if it will work for next year. I am reluctant to get rid of my desks because it took me several years to get them. I had round tables for years, and then finally was able to get desks. I don't know if I want to go back.

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    1. That is a tough one! I would think back on the round tables and what it was about them that made you want desks. If you think it would still be an issue, maybe keep your desks and put them into groups to simulate round tables until you can decide. Mollie and I can be a little nutty (yup, totally how we got the name for our blog and store!) so we usually dive right in head first. We got rid of almost all of our desks. Our third teaching partner decided to hang on to his a bit longer. If you decide to hang on to them, you could still try out not having assigned seats and treat all of the desks as community space. You can put them into various sized groups. Some individual (like we have in the back of our rooms), some in groups of two for partnership work, and some in groups of four or six. Just a thought! I think getting your kids involved is a great idea! Let us know if we can help in any way! It is so exciting to make such a big change. I just know you are going to love it!

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  8. I LOVE THIS IDEA!!! A couple of things. . .just to make sure I am completely understanding it. I am assuming you do a whole group lesson on a rug or other common area and then you break off to the other areas for student independent/small group work, right? Also, do you know anyone who has done this with younger grades yet? I am going to teach 2nd grade next year and this idea intrigues me. I would love to give it a shot. Thanks for all of your pictures and for sharing your ideas :)

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    1. We just wrapped up our year and it was amazing! I will never go back to desks! :) We do have our whole group lesson on the rug in front of the whiteboard. Then students move to any where in the room for group work or independent work. I am sitting with a couple of my teacher buddies right now and one has a son in kinder that has this classroom set up. She volunteers in the classroom and said it works great for them! Another friend who lower elementary says they have a version of it and she can see it totally work for a second grade classroom! Good luck! I am positive you will love it if you make the switch! Have a great summer!

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    2. I love this idea and tried it this year too. I saw your post in the summer and as I was moving to my new classroom and since I had to decide where to put everything anyway... I thought WHY NOT! I love small group collaboration and think the kids get so much out of peer to peer learning. I posted this as a reply because I saw a number of people asking about doing this with younger kids and I teacher kindergarten. It worked really well! It allowed more choice and movement (goodness knows five year olds need that!) and cut way down on so many potential behavior issues. I didn't ever have assigned seats except for the reasons you mentioned of poor choices; and then it was just temporary. I'd love a 2015-16 installment post about what you might tweaked and what really worked best...and the kids feedback!

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    3. Thank you so much for leaving some insight into the younger grades! I assumed that it would be a great fit for younger kiddos but it is good to hear it straight from someone who really knows! We are getting ready to do a follow up blog post and I have some direct quotes and some insight from our kiddos. We are participating in three different blog collaborations so we haven't had a chance to post it yet! Keep your eye out, it will be up soon! :)

      Thanks again for leaving your thoughts!

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  9. What a gorgeous classroom! I love all of the soft spaces. Looks so inviting! I also love you banners, I may need to add some to my classroom now! :)

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    1. Awe, thank you! It was so much fun to put together. I LOVE making banners. :) It is especially easy now that I have a Silhouette. Have fun creating!

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  10. I absolutely love it! So gorgeous! I especially like the little decorate touches here and there with the lamps, plants, and curtains! Too cute!!!

    Stephanie
    Mrs. Cain's Creations

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    1. Thanks so much! It is so much fun putting the room together and I love to make it comfy for the kiddos!

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  11. Just found your blog and I'm looking to change up the design of my classroom - loving your choice arrangement and flow!

    I am curious how you handle the morning and afternoon procedures. My fourth graders can come in anywhere from 7:50-8:00 and then have morning announcements until about 8:15. In the afternoon we have packing up and staggered dismissal from 1:45-2:00.

    How do you handle these times in your classrooms? Do the kids go to their home bases? What do they do and work on as they enter in the morning? What about the afternoon? How do wrap up the day?

    Thank you SO much!

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    1. Hi there!

      We had a very short morning this year because school started at 8:55 and we had a special (Art, Gym, Music, etc) at 9:05. My kiddos just came in and sat in the gathering area and I welcomed them and took attendance and lunch count. However, this year I am hoping that our schedule will change and if it does and we will have more time in the morning. If we have the extra time my plan would be to have procedures established where students come in and grab something to work on right away until everyone is there and we are able to meet to start our day.

      As for our afternoons, we also have staggered dismissals for various reasons. We do our Word Study at the end of the day. All of my kiddos are there for the instruction and a good chunk of the independent work time however, as kids need to leave for the day, I start dismissing them while others continue working. Then those that are left help with cleaning up the room and stacking chairs.

      I do not use the home bases much. Just when guest teachers are there (for ease of a seating chart) and if the whole class is struggling to stay on task. I try very hard to stay true to the purpose of the classroom set up which is choice. I will admit that it is nothing short of amazing how quickly the kids adjust to the new found independence. I was so worried and had TONS of procedures in place but in a very short amount of time I was able to pull back on how much I was controlling the situation and the kids took over. It was awesome!! I will NEVER go back! :)

      Good luck with your new design! Please don't hesitate to ask questions if you have any come up! We love talking about this! Take care!

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  12. I love the calm colors that you use. I also love the bags....I have been brainstorming and wondering if that is a route I should go for this upcoming year. I also love your focus area. Thanks for linking up.

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    1. Thank you so much! The bags have been great and I have used there for SEVERAL years now. Just this year I was thinking they may only have one year left. I feel like they were well worth it!

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  13. This is my dream classroom layout! I've always been a huge fan of letting the kids have choice and I love how open it is. It is just perfect for collaboration and freedom! You mentioned in one of your posts that you did a lot of research before putting this design together. Would you mind sharing what books or sites you used to do your research. My principal is VERY data and research oriented so I definitely think I would need to back up this idea with research before she would allow me to try something like this. Thank you so much for sharing your classroom and ideas. I can't wait to try and utilize some of them in my class this year! I teach 2nd grade so it would definitely take a LOT of modeling in the beginning of the year, but then I really think it would run smoothly.

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    1. Hi there!

      Send us a quick email (twonuttyteachers@gmail.com) and I would be happy to share the info we used when presenting it to our administrator! I will also track down some of the websites we used. One other piece of advice I would give is to look into area businesses to see if any of them are moving to this type of design for their offices. I know it sounds strange but as we were researching we came across a huge company (we are near Steelcase who makes furniture for offices and schools) and they have moved to this model for their offices and workspaces. Since we are a Common Core state which was driven by the business world, this was an important factor. I hope to hear from you and we are so excited that you are looking to take this leap. You won't regret it! :)

      Amy

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  14. I love this alternative seating arrangement! My question is, how do you introduce this to the kids in the beginning so they don't run around crazy to pick a spot. How much modeling and specific procedures do you use? I can see how meeting at the gathering place every morning first thing will work, but then how do you teach them to dismiss into the room for collaborative work?

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  15. Love your layout. I am currently writing a grant and am trying to come up with a title for this design. Collaborative Work Environment? Google land? 21st Century Learning Spaces? Please help! Also, I will present the grant to my principal for approval, so if you could also send me your research you did, I would so appreciate it! Thank you! sherrisimpson89@gmail.com

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  16. I absolutely LOVE your layout and it has inspired me to create spaces like these in my own classroom! I am wondering how it is going this second year? I have a group of students this year that would have THRIVED in this environment but it's so late in the year I won't be able to completely get it going like this...however...have you noticed a difference in how it runs from year to year? Any advice for setting up my brand new room? LOVE IT!

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  17. Hi,
    your classroom looks awesome! May I ask how large it is (square meters or feet) and how many students you have in the classroom?
    TIA!
    Johanna

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  18. Are you able to post a picture of the inside of your students binders and boxes? I love what you have done with your classroom and am currently in the process of setting up this kind of learning space with another teacher for next year. I am from a Highschool background and my biggest struggle has been with helping my younger students stay organized. :) Thanks so much.

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  19. Hi Mrs.Weatherford its Stella the flexible seating is amazing!!!!!

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