Last year I made a big step and modified my classroom setup. The tables of 4 was a push for me to change the focus in the room – and I am happy to report that the ‘atmosphere’ is working. Students quickly focus on communicating with others – and are less focused “on the board”. It means though – that having items on a back shelf, especially with 30 bodies in the room, and easily moving can be challenging. After a few shares by other members of the #langchat PLN I am looking to push that ‘central’ idea a bit further this year. Enter the extremely low-tech ‘centre of the table basket’ – bought at my local dollar store. What’s in the basket?
Learning supplies for students – Never again the “I don’t have a pen”. I took my basket of left-behind pens, pencils, erasers etc and added some to each basket. Along with it there is a glue stick, some paper clips, a small post-it note pad, dice for games, scissors and a ruler. Amazingly they are used as needed but I haven’t had a wholesale loss of anything yet. I’ll have my volunteers who come to do my bulletin boards every 2 weeks check the baskets and replenish as needed. The other constant in the basket are the white envelopes. Inside – a copy of my ‘follow up’ questions – on small cards in both English and Japanese. Whenever I ask students to speak they are there as a resource to spur on conversation.
Supplies for the day’s class – You can see some brown envelopes in the basket as well. They are there for my next class – the Year 1’s who are learning their characters. For my Year 2’s in 3rd period I’ll switch those out for different orthography cards, as well as a deck of cards for a game we are playing. Under the basket are a game sheets – I”ll be using those later with the Year 3’s. It makes quick work of getting out and returning supplies for me – as the items students need for that class are there and ready to go.
Easing transitions and improving the “flow” in my room help to make my classes a bit more organized. I know I’ll find more uses for the “baskets on the table” as the year goes on!