Saturday, January 7, 2012

Week 1 - Question 1 - Vickie Hoffman

Picture Perfect: How Does You Ideal Classroom Look, Sound, and Feel?

This chapter began with Debbie Miller asking the question...

"If I were to ask you to close your eyes and envision the perfect classroom scene, what would you see?  What would you hear and smell and feel?  Think big!  If everything were going just the way you'd like it to, what would be happening?  What would your kids be doing?  What about you?"

I think that is the perfect question to begin this book study.  Please tell us what your "perfect classroom" would look like.  You are also welcome to tell us which things you already have and what you would still like to change in the future.

Have a GREAT week!


  1. I think when you ask a teacher to envision his/her perfect classroom; you are inviting the kind of “In-a Perfect world” dreaming that every teacher lives for! My dream classroom would begin with the physical space. I want it to be enriched in literacy- cozy spaces to curl up and read a good book, plenty of space for literacy stations to be set up for that sole purpose of that station. It would also have a classroom library that is organized by topic, author and genre of books. Bottom line: I want large, roomy classrooms that allow you to be creative and organized yet comfortable. A room that invites you in and makes you want to stay there. I can’t wait to paint my room this summer! I see children engaged in individual reading, intent on writing stories, working in groups completing phonics activities. The children are engrossed in purposeful activities that help them grow as learners. The discussions would be intent on their learning (discussing books, commenting on each other’s writing, etc. ). I am working with small groups and conferencing with students individually. Some of this I have and some of it is a goal for when I have time to organize better.

  2. Well, I started to read the chapter and decided I wanted to answer without my thoughts of my "perfect" classroom being influenced by Debbie Miller's. I value her thoughts and ideas, but I know as a reader, my ideal classroom would definitely resemble hers very closely if I continued to read. (maybe it will still resemble her thoughts...)
    There are many things that I would LOVE to see in my classroom that are not allowed (mainly because of fire codes).
    Taking away all of the 'rules' my classroom would be inviting! I want students to not only enjoy coming to school, but enjoy spending time in the classroom. I want the colors to create a sense of calmness as well as encourage focus and learning. Some classrooms seem so bare and 'hospital-like' that I find it hard to focus as an adult. On the flip side, I want my room to have a balance of student work, anchor charts, encouraging posters and wall space. I think that some classrooms are inundated with 'wallpaper posters' that it is even harder to maintain focus. I want my classroom to also give the students a sense of ownership. They will have their own space (whether it be a desk or a place at a table) that they take responsibility for. I think that making the room accessible to the students allows them to become independent learners. They can find their materials, books, paper, etc. This also alleviates some of the constant questions that the teacher is interrupted to answer.
    My ideal classroom is organized. I thrive in an organized space and I have seen students thrive in a space that is organized. I like the classroom library to be organized so that students cannot only look for similar books by genre or author, but they can also explore different books. Ideally, my organization would ‘rub-off’ on the students and they would be organized too!
    If I closed my eyes in my ideal classroom I would hear my students being ‘bucket fillers’ with encouragement for each other. I would hear students exploring and learning in their classroom. I love to hear students converse and figure out problems on their own using their prior knowledge. (especially in the kindergarten room I am in now)
    As a teacher, it is my job to make the room as inviting and comfortable as I can. I know that there are guidelines that I must follow, but by being inventive and using the room to its fullest potential, student success will occur.

  3. In the perfect world my classroom would have to be alot larger! I would definitly create more seperate spaces for every kind of activity or learning that might happen in Language Arts. I would have the publishing company, the TV station, the library, the living room, and the list could go on! I would also have an office for myself. With the space I do have, I have been creating more of my perfect classroom over this past several months. It has been great that we were finally granted permission to paint and decorate as we felt best. Getting rid of the white walls was my first step to a perfect environment! It is important to develop a warm but fun space to learn in that reflects the teacher. My problem is I would ever be changing my decor in the dream world!

  4. Wow! What would my ideal classroom like like? First, it would be a big inviting space. Like Sherri said, a nice classroom library, full of many different books, organized by genre, author, topic, etc.
    I would love to have a lot of wall space to easily display anchor charts and student work. I would love to have a nice comfy reading area and a publishing station.
    I would love to get student input. I would like them to be able to have a classroom wish list. We set up the room together.
    Like Alexis, I would love to have a very organized space. In my current room, I have to use what was given to me. I would like a space for everything, a math station, a science station, a writing station, and a computer station.

  5. My perfect classroom begins foremost with children being engaged in their learning. Children would be sharing their thoughts and ideas, helping, and encouraging each other. This classroom would be our classroom not my classroom. Our classroom would have lots of reading and writing involvement. Students would be reading books independently and with partners, and writing books independently and with partners.
    The reading area would have comfy chairs and tons of books neatly stored and organized, it would include big books from our Read Alouds and shared reading for students to reread. The walls would be filled with our interactive writing charts. The word wall would be one that students could borrow words to take and use in their writing. I love the idea of a spatial room as well.

  6. Hmmm.... When thinking about this I was first envisioning my current room and how I could make that "more perfect", but my room is more of a small office and I only see kids one-on-one or in small groups, and that wouldn't be nearly as much fun. So I am answering as though I am back in the classroom.

    My perfect room would need to be spacious, but not too large. The windows would be more towards the ceiling letting in lots of natural light but not taking away from blank walls where student work and anchor charts could easily be mounted and manipulated. I would also want state of the art technology with at least one nah two interactive boards that run off of a projector mounted on the ceiling. (all those cords drive me crazy!!!) In addition I would want a laptop station with enough laptops for each student to have their own for publishing, researching, and creating. Along with the technology I see a various cozy nooks and crannies for students to read and work. I see a classroom library that was built with student input where together we made decisions on how the books were organized, labeled and placed. I also see materials and tools all easily accessible at anytime. Lastly, I don't necessarily see tables or desks where students have assigned seats. I simply see work spaces scattered throughout the room for students to make decisions about where they will work best based on the task at hand.

    Giving students the job of organizing and setting up my classroom library is something that I have actually done in both first and second grade and I feel it is something I will always do as a classroom teacher. Not actually having assigned seats is more of a dream. I have accomplished this during reading and writing workshops, but for it to work throughout the whole day I am not exactly sure about, but in a perfect world that is how I would want it to be.

  7. You have opened up a can of worms with this question, Vickie, so it's going to be a long response. Thank you for posing a question that allows some creative thinking. First off, I am thankful for the large classroom I already have; being a music teacher, I require students to use a lot of space for movement, dance, and various classroom ensembles.
    In my IDEAL classroom, I would have an entire wall of windows with a door that opens to the woods (and recess would not be held right outside my classroom). We would spend a fair amount of time outside, listening and analyzing sounds of nature, then using those sounds to make creative connections in the realm of music. We would rehearse outside and even have an outdoor amphitheatre in which we would have spring, summer and fall concerts. I think children, in general, have lost the thrill of just being outside and enjoying nature. I believe nature, much like music, speaks to the soul.
    As far as what would be in my classroom: professional recording capabilities, and even a small recording studio. Students would look for people/organizations to which they would send their recordings, as well as learn the ins and outs of the music industry. Either keyboards w/headphones or quality xylophones on stands (or marimbas) would stay up all year round, encouraging students to priceless art of reading music and applying it on practical instruments. I would also have a huge selection of books in a cozy reading corner- reading is timeless; children LOVE a good story and can learn so much from good literature. I have started collecting books that are also songs b/c it’s a great way to bring music and imagination to life. I would have an i-pod docking station with a remote, a stage for performing, and utilize the computer lab (not in my classroom) for technical activities such as composing, skyping with people from around the country/world to learn about music’s role in various cultures and tapping into a variety of music websites. Above all, I would have more time with each and every student to really dig into the remarkably important and magical world of music.

  8. "If I were to ask you to close your eyes and envision the perfect classroom scene, what would you see? What would you hear and smell and feel? Think big! If everything were going just the way you'd like it to, what would be happening? What would your kids be doing? What about you?"
    The “perfect” classroom scene is one that would certainly be in constant change and adaptation. Therefore, I will answer this as though I close my eyes and walk into my “dream classroom”. First, the non-physical, my classroom would be a safe environment where students are encouraged, engaged, curious, comfortable, and creative. I want students to understand that in my classroom there are no black and white but gray areas to interpret and shape how they choose. I am constantly stressing to students to be an original versus a copy and I want that to show in my classroom.
    Physical space, well, now we need to get our hard hats out. I would like a large open space to work in with the students. I want an outdoor space, accessible and visible from the classroom (think glass doors or sliding glass walls. The classroom would not be a rectangle as rectangles elicit strict rules and boundaries; instead, because of the outdoor space being connected to the classroom it would be difficult to determine where the classroom ends. My classroom would be flooded with natural light, both from outside and proper lighting (not fluorescents). I have a desire to be able to see outside at all times as that is where I am most inspired and the physical layout of my room will reflect that feeling. My classroom would contain many different work areas. A space where students are able to manipulate drawing tables for the correct angle, a space with painting easels, a space dedicated strictly to 3-D work and clay, a “meeting” space where we can all confer together, a gallery space or showing student work, a research lab with Mac computers, and of course our outdoor space for working. Students would be able to spread out in the room choosing to sit at a drawing table or stand at an easel while they work. I would also have loads of storage space, in fact, enough storage for each student to keep their portfolio of work separate. There would be LARGE sinks that are easily accessible to all students and would contain easy to clean traps. The space would be colorful, bright, and ever changing. I would love to have slide-ins on my cabinet doors that can be removed each year, painted by students and then replaced so that the student work truly becomes a lasting piece of room for the year. The floors would be stained concrete, to not only hide the spills, but help with moisture control for the clay. There would be a drying room for clay projects with proper climate control conditions and a well vented kiln room for both teacher and student safety. I know I could go on and on, but I suppose I should stop somewhere so how about here.

  9. This is such a thought provoking question! My ideal classroom would also be a nice, large space. Like Beth Ann said, I would like the room to be warm and inviting. The idea of having a different section of the classroom for each subject and learning center is very appealing to me. For example, having a book corner full of books, a writing center, computer center, etc. My classroom would be equiped with technology to aide in student learning.
    As Debbie S. said, I imagine a classroom full of students engaged in their learning. I loved what Debbie Miller wrote when she described Betsy Moreno's classroom. The idea of creating an environment so condusice to student learning is wonderful.

  10. My perfect classroom? Hmm.... first, it would not contain materials from the past 20 years of Intervention Specialists in it. I would have a blank slate walking in. I would love to have enough wall space to display the notes and examples from my lessons, along with reference information, so that they are easily accessible to the students when they need them. I suppose I might need some sort of rotating wall for that. I would also have plenty of space to display student work. I would love a whole wall that didn't need to be covered by shelves or anything else, that was magnetic so that student work could be hung like it would on the refrigerator at home. I would have spaces for tables or desks for when students had more structured activities that require that, but also plenty of room for students to be able to work around the room and be comfortable. I would have a couple exercise balls for my fidgety students and they would use them appropriately. My classroom library would be organized with plenty of books on all levels and subjects so that we could easily find books that complement their classroom assignments that are on their levels. It would also contain short books about all of the Science and Social Studies units that my students would need to help them better understand the instruction in the regular classroom. Like Alyson, I would have a laptop for each student to work on, whether that be for research, word processing, lessons, or skills practice. In a perfect world, my classroom would be organized and would stay that way because everything's place would be so logical that my students and I couldn't help but put things back where they belong. It would also be bright enough to not seem dreary but not so bright that it was distracting to the students. And, of course, it would be warm and inviting so that the students want to be there and are motivated to learn.

  11. I didn't describe my ideal classroom, because after reading everyone else's quotes, I came to the conclusion, that I don't have a single solitary new idea of my own that hasn't been shared already by others. You all have descibed the wonderful place that all of us envision our classrooms to be very well.

    As I read these posts again, I get a smile thinking about all the what-if's. I guess the thing that comes to my mind is kind of what Debbie Miller says on the bottom of page 35, was to dream first and then start to mold that thinking and focus on what you do have rather than what you don't and think innovatively about how making changes over time can have a dramatic impact and get you very close to what you belive would be ideal. Are there ways of doing some of the things that you think would be great? Might it require all of us to think differently about making those changes possible? Most importantly, as is pointed out by Miller, "...teachers realized that teaching isn't so much about the shape of the tables, the carpet, or whatever shelves are high or low. Good teaching, more than anything else, rests squarely with us."

  12. Wow...Jess and Beth...I really want you to have your dream classrooms!! I was feeling really creative just reading about them. I can't imagine what kids would be able to create if these were actually their art and music rooms!!
    As for me, where to begin? First I think I'd do something about the organization of my room. I have really good intentions, but like Allyson said, my dream classroom would be so organized and logically so that the students and I wouldn't be able to do anything but put things in their own places. I know every teacher asks for lots of storage, and so do I in my perfect room...however all those cabinets take up so much wall space! I would love to have more space to display student work, posters, and murals that relate to the content we are studying. These murals of course would be constantly changing, so I'd need a way to display them and change them often, but they'd need to be out of our way! I would like to have a cozy space for reading and writing that feels more like home than anything else.
    I look forward to painting and adding some comfy touches that will help me get closer to this room of my dreams.

  13. My perfect classroom would be an inviting place, where everyone feels welcome and at home. I would have walls on which anything I put up stays up! There would be a SMART Board, several laptops/netbooks/iPads for the kids to use independently. It would have books all around the room, not just in one area. It would be filled with the quiet conversations of kids while they discuss what they’re reading or writing about. There would be open collaboration between peers where the kids are willing to offer and to accept constructive criticism, ideas, and praise. Materials would be organized to a point of there being no need to ask me for anything. And if something runs out, the kids would know where to get more, therefore entirely eliminating interruptions for materials. Most of all, there would be minimal, or no interruptions from outside the classroom, and transitions would be seamless in order to maximize class time.

    I love Allyson's idea of magnetic walls and perfect/logical organization for everything in the room! And I can't tell you how much I envy the fact that all of you NU teachers are able to paint classrooms however you want! All of our classrooms are a blah shade of off-white/cream/ yellow(?). I'm not even sure what you call it. Oh, if only...