Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Special Educator's Toolkit- the Classroom Environment

This is the second article about implementing the OMAC (Organization and Management of a Classroom) system outlined in the book, The Special Educator's Toolkit, by Cindy Golden. The first one, the Introduction, can be seen here.

We will begin to review and apply the next chapter- Organization of the Classroom Environment.

STEP ONE: Really LOOK at your classroom. Ms. Golden provides a handy form, "How's My Classroom?" List what's working and what's not working.

 STEP TWO: Next is the Clutter cleaning.  The author suggested: Throw Away, Share with others, and definitely keep.  

STEP THREE: Inventory your materials. The author provides a list of suggested materials. Most of the materials are supplied by school districts. There are some items that would be out of your pocket.

STEP FOUR: Questions to answer....
What will you do with the space?
What kinds of activities will be happening in the space?
Are there specific limitations?
Are there specific needs of people using the space?
What is the overall goal?

In the first chapters of the book, a form that assists you in determining each student's individual needs is provided. This is helpful when you are starting from scratch with a new student.
This form simply has columns labeled, who, what, where, when and how.
Your students' needs, educationally, as well as physically can be sorted out on this form and it will help in answering these questions.

STEP FIVE: At this point, Cindy directs you to look at what information has been gathered, it is a starting point to making a layout for the classroom. It is not completed yet, she shows us a couple of sample layouts. I love layouts, they can provide a new idea on setting up a room. In my case, my classroom is already set up, but there are areas I don't like.  

Before moving on through The Special Educator's Toolkit, let's try this system out on one of my "not working" spots.

This shelf has been our "catch all" place all year. When I wasn't sure where to put something and  didn't want to lose track of it, this was the spot! As the year progressed the use of that area changed, so the materials that were needed on a daily basis got stuffed into the shelf too. 

Everything was removed from the shelf and laid on a table. I sorted into piles for throw away, keep in the shelf,and put away. I had sorted and shared a lot of items at the beginning of the year, but I never miss a chance to give away one more thing.

Out of necessity,  the same containers are used,and each one was uncluttered, they were holding lots of unnecessary junk, especially that clear box on the top shelf!

This shelf is in the area where small groups of students meet with a teacher for instruction in math and reading. At the time of the pictures, there were two different groups, now there are three (groups) meeting here! This is a great use of this area, I'm loving that our classroom can be used by other teachers. I want this shelf to be a neat, clean storage place for the materials required for each group, and because the groups are taught by different teachers,  it  should  be labeled.

In retrospect, I should have taken pictures of the inside of each container because that is where the real changes happened! The clipboards are another suggestion from the author, they have the daily lesson plans and the student's objectives with space to mark  progress.

This makes it easier for teacher assistants to know what students' expectations are and help to keep data.

There's more to do here of course! The bottom shelf needs more work...........

Until next time,