Classroom is Set Up!
I think I’m finally happy with my room setup. I change it every year, for some reason, but this year I wanted to change it so that it reflects what a flipped classroom should look like.
There are seven things that I insisted on for this year:
- Wireless Internet in the Room – I requested this over the summer. Believe it or not, students could not access the internet with their devices while they were in my classroom. It seems a little counterproductive, especially if I want to assign tasks that required internet access. Students need access to more than what I alone can offer within the classroom. So I went into school weeks after the request and sure enough, I found one of those big circle things on the ceiling in my room. I was elated!
- Desk Against the Wall – The desk, a.k.a. “my personal space” was a nice barrier between me and my students so that I could monitor them like a supervisor watches his workers, and they had to come humbly to me for any questions they had. (Okay, maybe that analogy is a bit harsh, but you get the idea.) Now I’ve removed that barrier between teacher and students. Students and I are now working toward a common goal – everybody learning. I work with them and learn with them as I spend time with each group discussing and guiding the process.
- Tables in Groups – I’ve had this for a while, but with the teacher desk out of the way, I can spread the groups out more, making everyone more comfortable. The reason: Kids need to talk to each other, in their own language. I am no longer the only expert in the room. Before the bell rings, they know everything required in order to get working. They can also communicate their interpretations of that knowledge freely.
- Rolling Whiteboard – Okay, this has been requested, and hopefully it will happen, and here’s why. Not all students find paper and pencil the best way to work things out. In previous years, I often had students ask if they could use my whiteboard to do their work, take a picture of it with their phone, and email the picture to me. I love that idea! Students need different ways of expressing themselves in writing. Since I only have one whiteboard and one SmartBoard in my room, I figure it won’t hurt to have a two-sided rolling whiteboard so more students can work in this way.
- Blank Walls – No motivational posters, no work from previous students, no formula lists with colorful backgrounds, nothing. This year is a blank slate, and as the year goes on, they can decorate the walls with anything that everyone feels is appropriate. The classroom is their room as much as it is mine. In the past, some students have made posters, playfully poking fun at me. Others have written me sonnets – that’s right, sonnets! – telling me they missed me when I was absent. I’m not sure what’s going up there this year, but then again, I don’t need to know. I’m not the only creative mind in the room. The only thing that I will be putting on the walls this year is the…
- IB Learner Profile – As an IB teacher, I am required to post this in my classroom. I could have just listed the ten qualities of IB learners. I could have even bought the official IB poster (http://store.ibo.org/product_info.php?products_id=1175). Instead, I made my own series of ten posters, just because I wouldn’t have been happy with the only option available. Students need to see that they are free to express things in their own way. Students need to know that my way is not necessarily the only way to say or write something, or even do something. I welcome other interpretations of what I’ve given to them.
- Bookshelves with Puzzle Books – I figure there will always be those that finish the activity well in advance, and they may need something to do. Rather than texting or getting on Facebook or YouTube, students are given the option to work on games and puzzles. Students need to be given every opportunity to solve different kinds of problems. My worry is that the puzzles may be seen as a reward, and students will work too quickly and carelessly just to be able to enjoy that reward. Any comments on how to avoid this are welcome.
What does your flipped classroom look like? As I’ve mentioned, this is my first experience flipping my classroom, so any input from experienced “flippers” will be greatly appreciated.
I am SO looking forward to the first day of school!