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Friday, August 1, 2014

A Blank Canvas...Planning Your Walls with Purpose

It is amazing that the previous school year is over, vacation is a vivid memory, and professional learning has begun. 

When the new school supplies start to come out at Target or Wal-Mart, I get a little giddy. What is it about school supplies and teachers? I mean, who can resist all those Post-It notes and composition books?

I remember getting excited every year, at the end of summer,  just thinking about setting up my classroom. What theme will I use? What color butcher paper? Do I need new border? Do I want to organize my room by content? 

I used to spend so much time filling my walls with cute pre-made posters. It took some time and some peace to let go of having my room look "done." Instead, I set a goal to allow the kids to be the ones who created the resources and work for our walls. I could make it cute, but would it be useful to kids? A print rich classroom begins one letter or word at a time. Give yourself permission to start with a beautiful, blank butcher paper canvas. Here are some things to think about...

1. Will I have a word wall? Where? Was it a useful student used tool in the past? If not, why?

2. Will I have other word walls other than just a grade level high frequency word list? i.e. number words, color words, student names, math vocabulary, homophones, synonyms, antonyms The list could go on and on. 

3. Where might my reading strategy (aka Figure 19) anchor charts go?

4. Will I hang pictures of my favorite authors so they get to know them as fellow writers?

5. Where will I frame my lesson each day? Is there  a chart or space on my white board?

6. What on my walls did we actually use and refer back to? Space, like time,  is precious. Don't waste it on something that didn't help support your students' learning. 

Having a plan and reflecting on what worked (or didn't) in the past should help drive your decisions about your walls for the year. 

Remember, a blank canvas is a beautiful thing. Having a plan for that canvas is what creates art.

Up next...Creating a Student Centered Word Wall!

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