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.
Flipping the Physical 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 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.