I discovered a neat free website that allows to plan room set-ups: Room Sketcher. This website was shared by Zoe Branigan-Pipe, who was my Junior ABQ instructor last summer at Brock University. RoomSketcher is a house set-up software, and therefore there is no dedicated school furniture, but I was able to make a neat class set-up nonetheless. This software is extremely user-friendly. There are several interesting features, such as the wide array of possible furniture and accessories. Also, it allows the user to take snapshot 3D pictures of the room in order to have a better idea of how it looks like in real life. All in all, I enjoyed using Room Sketcher to design my dream primary classroom. I have made my classroom set-up public on the site, and it can be accessed here.
My dream primary classroom is spacious (14m x 9m). There are a couple of windows on the top wall in order to get some much needed natural light. The door is at the bottom left corner. In Ontario, primary classrooms have about 20 students, and I designed the working space for this number of pupils. The picture below shows the top view of the entire classroom floor plan.
The children leave their outdoor shoes, coats and backpacks in the corridor outside classroom, against the bottom wall, as shown below. There are cubies for the shoes, and hooks for coats and backpacks. Each child has their own space labelled with their name.
The classroom meeting area is defined by the carpet against the top wall.
The meeting space is large and well-defined thanks to the spacious carpet. There are no shelves containing school material (potential distraction sources!) near the carpet in order to keep the students focused on the class discussions. There is a Smart Board in front of the carpet, and the teacher’s computer is near the teacher’s chair. There is also a chart stand (easel in the drawing) for recording ideas. The walls on each side of the Smart Board would be used for various types of displays that are used and referred-to frequently (daily schedule, word walls, charts, calendar, etc.) (A Guide to Effective Instruction in Mathematics, p. 11-12).
The students’ work tables are placed in the center of the classroom, in five groups of four desks (or five large tables as shown here).
This desk configuration allows for small group work, where students interact with and help each other, as well as provide feedback to the members of their group (A Guide to Effective Instruction in Mathematics, p. 12-13). There is ample space for students to move freely and safely between each table and around the room. Also, the teacher can easily move around the tables to monitor and help the students as they work. Students have easy access to the class material and laptops (one for each student, in my dream world!) situated on and in the low shelves against the back wall, as well as on the bookshelves near the teacher’s desk. The low shelves also contain students’ individual bins for unfinished work, for easy access. Students put completed work in another bin, in the shelves next to the teacher’s desk. This set-up allows students to be more independent when working on tasks, with all the necessary material labelled and within easy reach. On the wall above the low shelves, near the students’ work tables, there are bulletin boards, as well as word walls, visual displays, and students’ artworks.
The conference table below (which can be seen in the previous image also) is an excellent space for guided reading and general guided work. The teacher faces the rest of the room, which allows to keep an eye on most of the students at once, which is important for class management.
The teacher desk is nearby in the corner, also facing the room. There are many shelves to store class material and books. There is a color printer, and it is on the file cabinet next to the teacher’s desk.
For students who wish to work independently, there are four individual desks dispersed in the room, including these shown below. These are great for quiet, individual work, and the desks are set in quiet corners of the room, away from the main group work areas.
This classroom has been designed so that it also contains well-defined spaces for centers.
I created my centers in order to include all of Gardner’s first eight multiple intelligences. The seven centers in my classroom follow the suggestions provided in http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/mi/implementation_sub1.html (“Tapping into Multiple Intelligences”, 1996).
Illustration/Visual Expression Center
This center caters to Visual-Spatial and Intrapersonal intelligences. It is conveniently located near the sink for easy clean-up, and the following materials can be found in the low and high shelves against the wall (http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/mi/implementation_sub1.html (“Tapping into Multiple Intelligences”, 1996)):
- Canvas or dropcloth
- Painting (acrylics, watercolors, poster paints, finger paints) and drawing materials (pens, pencils, colored chalk)
- Easel, bulletin board, chalk board, drawing boards or tables
- Flat file storage
- Props for still lifes
- Variety of clip-on flood lights, flashlight, colored gels
- Cameras (35mm, disposable, digital)
This center accommodates students’ Logical-Mathematical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal intelligences. The math manipulatives are conveniently stored within reach in the low shelves against the wall, for easy independent access. The wall space contains math displays such as word and strategy walls. The following materials would be stored and displayed in the math center (http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/mi/implementation_sub1.html (“Tapping into Multiple Intelligences”, 1996)):
- Puzzles and games that involve logical thinking (looking for patterns, sequences, process of elimination, inference, etc.)
- Arithmetic and graphing calculators with instructions on how to solve common types of problems (e.g. percentages, averages, etc.)
- Maps, charts, timelines, Web sites -- vivid examples of how math and logical thinking can relate to social studies, science and language arts
- "Math manipulatives," such as unifix cubes, pattern blocks, Cuisenaire rods, and geoboards
- Laptop computers with math games and 2D/3D geometry programs
This center, which encourages Visual-Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic and Interpersonal intelligences, contains the following materials stored in trunks and shelves (http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/mi/implementation_sub1.html (“Tapping into Multiple Intelligences”, 1996)):
- Wigs, costumes, shoes
- Washable makeup
- Cassette or CD-player for background music
- Stage area (carpet)
4 Music Center
This center encourages the Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, and Interpersonal intelligences. The following materials can be found in the center (http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/mi/implementation_sub1.html (“Tapping into Multiple Intelligences”, 1996)):
- carpet on the floor
- Cassette or CD player with headphones (optional: jack so that two students can listen to same music at the same time)
- instruments from a variety of multicultural backgrounds
- Books about famous composers and musicians
- Books of poems and stories that students can set to music
- Books of collected lyrics
- Computer with microphone, speakers, and earphones plus MIDI connector and keyboard: music composition software, CD-ROMs designed for music study, CDs for incorporating sound into multimedia presentations
This center satisfies the students’ Verbal-Linguistic, Visual-Spatial, Intrapersonal and Interpersonal intelligences. It contains the following materials (http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/mi/implementation_sub1.html (“Tapping into Multiple Intelligences”, 1996)):
- Fiction and non-fiction books on a variety of topics, in many genres
- Illustrated books
- Books on tape with related book in hard copy
- Books, articles, and papers written by students
- Cushions for quiet reading or for group discussion
- Word games (Boggle, Wheel of Fortune, Scrabble, Password)
- Creative writing tools (variety of pens, paper, etc.); tape recorder; magazines that can be cut up for images; story starter books and cards
- Yellow pages; other address resource books
- List of addresses and phone numbers of relevant organizations
- Laptop computer: concept mapping software, word processor and Internet connection
- Multimedia presentation tools (e.g. HyperStudio, PowerPoint etc.)
This center encourages the Logical-Mathematical, Naturalist, Interpersonal and Visual-Spatial intelligences. It is quite simply situated at one of the student work tables in the center of room. The following center materials are stored within reach in labelled bins on the low shelves against the wall (http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/mi/implementation_sub1.html (“Tapping into Multiple Intelligences”, 1996)):
- Field guides and science resource books
- Popular science magazines
- Biographies of scientists and inventors
- Exploration and experimentation tools
- Magnifying glass, microscope, telescope, or binoculars
- Megaphones, cones and microphones
- Measurement devices (rulers, graduated cylinders, etc.)
- Bug jars and boxes, plastic containers for collecting specimens (botanical, entomological, geological, etc.)
- Teacher-written index card challenges "What happens if you..." (students make predictions, then conduct experiments)
- Computer and reference CD-ROMs
Build it/Paint it Center
This center caters to the Visual-Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal and Logical-Mathematical intelligences. It is strategically positioned near the sink, and the center materials are stored in labelled bins in the wall shelves and under the sink. Some of the materials should not be accessed independently by the students (e.g. glue gun) and are therefore stored out of reach. I prefer to use stools in this center, which are easier to move by the students according to their needs, and which can be stored under the table when not in use. This center contains the following materials (http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/mi/implementation_sub1.html (“Tapping into Multiple Intelligences”, 1996)):
- Materials for attaching things to other things (glue, staplers, sewing materials, nails and screws, pins, clips, etc.)
- Wood, metal, Styrofoam, recycled containers, bottles, cardboard, and tools to work with them
- Various types and colors of paper and cardboard (for creating a homemade board game, etc.)
- Variety of writing implements (markers, crayons)
- Variety of fabric scraps
- Modeling clay
- Large rolls of mural paper for scenery backdrops for performances
Overall, my dream classroom is inviting, spacious, bright, and organized; it contains lots of storage and green plants that the students care for (“Creating an Effective Physical Classroom Environment” https://www.teachervision.com/classroom-management/decorative-arts/6506.html). The walls display essential visually attractive learning material, but are not crowded with information. I prefer to leave ample space to display the students’ work, so that they take ownership of their learning space. The various centers and work areas are well-defined with carpets and/or specific tables, and students can independently find and access most of the materials they need. In this classroom, students and I are comfortable and enjoy learning together!
Please share the link to your own primary classroom set-up in the comments section!
Great examples of real primary classrooms
“Tapping into Multiple Intelligences”. Concept to Classroom, WNET Education, 2004. http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/mi/index.html
Ontario Ministry of Education. “Classroom Resources & Management”. A Guide to Effective Instruction in Mathematics, Kindergarten to Grade 6 – Volume 3, p11 - 16.
“Creating an Effective Physical Classroom Environment”. TeacherVision. https://www.teachervision.com/classroom-management/decorative-arts/6506.html