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Flip Your Classroom by Erin Klein

by Erin Klein, Monthly Guest Columnist

In the past few months, I’ve become very interested in the flipped classroom model.  But when we’re talking about flipping the classroom from a theoretical or technological standpoint, I haven’t heard much out there recently on the physical flipping of a classroom.  I think this is the perfect time while we’re discussing classroom organization to discuss flipping the physical layout of your classroom.

The first step is opening your classroom up to movement and activity.  Children are more apt to retain information and advance if they are actively engaged.  The first step to getting kids active is to give them space.  A carpeted area on the floor, a reading nook with beanbag chairs, or even a small plant or two will make them feel more comfortable.

Now, the question is how do I find space?  You’ve likely got plenty of it right now that you are using for storage.  But I don’t want you to ditch your supplies, simply mobilize your storage.  Sure, we all think we need 20 boxes of tissue taking up 3 cabinets, or 50 boxes of crayons when we have 25 students, but do we really need all of that in the room, right here, right now?

This is technique that is very simple in concept but must be managed properly.  At the beginning of the school year, I took a quick accounting of my supplies (there were a lot since I switched schools–I had my own and inherited some).  When setting up my classroom I laid out exactly what I would need for 18 children to be in active use and have a minimal amount of extras (in case a pencil breaks for instance).  48 glue sticks, 12 packs of pencils, 36 erasers, 18 packs of crayons, 6 each sanitizer and tissue.  4 of them out, 2 in a cabinet.  I did this with every item.  The rest went into 3 large portable storage tubs, which I brought home for the time being and put in my garage.  They were each labeled with how many of each backup item was in the tub.

The end result of this is that on occasion, I still have one cabinet for storage, with a limited supply of backup materials, and a small basket with smaller items.  So on any given day, I could realize that I am low on erasers.  No biggee, I’ll use my backups, write myself a note, and grab some out of my storage at home.  Then I mark off how many I took, so I know what is left without digging through these huge totes.  I do this instead of going to the storage cabinet that I used to have, in which a pack of paper clips would inevitably hit me in the head or spill on the floor as I tried to get markers out.  In my old classroom I had 6 cabinets devoted to storage.  I could have had 10 with the supplies at my new location.  But why?  It could take years to get through this tenth box of erasers.  And it could take 2 weeks.  That’s the great part about children, you never know what they’re going to go through anyway.

This is a huge space-saver.  With the storage items now out of the room, you open your room up to more displays of student work, seasonal items, books, photos of class trips, bulletin boards, and other engaging items.  Maybe you could even bring on a class pet!

About the Author

 

Erin Klein, the creator of Kleinspiration, a 2011 Really Good Blog

Erin Klein is a second grade teacher in Michigan and author of the award winning edu tech blog, Kleinspiration.  She is also a certified SMART Board Trainer and SMART Exemplary Educator.  Erin serves as the Michigan Reading Association’s co-technology chairperson and is a member of The National Writing Project.


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8 comments
gordon frohloff
gordon frohloff

erin I understand you have experience with NOW boards. What can you tell me about this board? do you have an understanding of the details? Thanks

Jennifer
Jennifer

I would love to have more space in my classroom. Extra supplies for the most part are put away in an organized manner. That is the not the problem. The problem is that I have 28 students and 30 desks in my classroom. I can't get rid of the extra desks, because I use one as an extension of my desk and one is for time-out. There is very limited space by the classroom library and limited front of the room carpet area. I would love to have some ideas about how to utilize the space I have better. I can't get rid of my desk. I also have a large small group table that takes up a lot of space. We work in small groups for reading and math. I even bought shelving, because there was only a small bookcase near the window. There is also a non-movable cubby area that I have to use for textbook storage, because they do not all fit in students' desks. I have two trapezoid tables below my interactive whiteboard that I use for my staging area to put the supplies I need for instruction.

Gretchen Farrar-Foley
Gretchen Farrar-Foley

I need more room with 30 kids in my class this year. I like the suggestion of taking supplies out of the room until needed. Thanks!

Jennifer McAdoo
Jennifer McAdoo

You have some fabulous ideas- makes me start thinking!

Rachael
Rachael

I have been working on this same thing. I had a "behaviorally challenged" class last year. The less there was to distract them, the better. I figure what was good for them is probably good for most kids. So, I'm slowly trying to get more and more things out of my classroom. Another way I'm saving space is by copying my files onto jump drives. Our copy machine can copy and save the copy as a PDF. It's SO great to be able to recycle a whole file folder full of paper! It's slow going, but hopefully by the end of the year, I'll have at least reduced 2 filing cabinets down to 1!

MrsP
MrsP

I worked as an elementary teaching assistant for six years and most of the work organising the classroom came under my role. It was amazing to see just how much stuff teachers can cram into their classrooms. I think the idea of taking away things for storage that are not needed is brilliant because it does free up space. There is often the illusion that the more things there are packed in the class the better the experience for the kids but it can just create chaos. The kids make a mess and can ruin resources because there is too much to keep up with. I found that the tidier the class was the better behaved the children were. The clutter seemed to make them over stimulated. It also contributes to teacher stress levels in a similar way to clutter and mess at home. It is great when there are clear desks, floor space and tidy drawer and shelving areas. The classroom is more productive, safer and the children can be involved in making it their own space and helping to take care of it.

Erin
Erin

Leisha, Great to hear! I don't use my desk, either... I use the flat surface to hold my doc. camera. My tech. gadgets are even displayed around the room... wireless mouse, etc. Glad you're loving it. Thanks for sharing, Erin Klein

Leisha Lanz
Leisha Lanz

I have been trying to make more space in my classroom. So for the first time in 25 yrs I have no dest! I got rid of the huge metal monster and replaced it with my horseshoe table and a mobile storage cart. Now I still have a place for all the "stuff" and myself that doubles as a work space for my students. So far I'm loving it!