“Classroom space impacts everything: instruction, behavior, and our (children’s and teachers’) sense of well-being” (from Spaces & Places by Debbie Diller)
Spaces & Places by Debbie Diller
Debbie Diller’s 33 years in education spent as a preK – gr 10 classroom teacher, reading specialist, literacy coach, workshop leader, classroom makeover specialist, consultant, and author of books and DVDs provides her with both theoretical and practical knowledge of effective classroom design and organization.
Although other resources provide information on classroom organization and design, Diller’s book actually has before and after pictures taken from classrooms she has made over, along with analysis as to why it did not work before and why it now does. The layout of the book is visually appealing, as Diller uses point form notation, colours, graphic organizers, large colour photographs, “post-it” notes with key points, and captions to make the pages clear and readable. Since Diller is a literacy specialist, the book has a clear focus to make the classroom conducive to literacy; however, she also addresses specific issues like ESL/ELL learners, preK, special needs, open classes, and technology.
A few key points that are addressed:
· A cluttered classroom is detrimental to learning and creates a negative atmosphere that may lead to discipline problems.
· Backwards design principle: think about instructional goals, then design your classroom to achieve those goals.
· The components of a well-organized classroom (e.g. large-, small- and independent-work areas, word wall, library, writing and math centres) support instruction, provide opportunities for student independence, reduce discipline problems, and engage students in their learning.
· Teachers should not decorate their classrooms with store bought bulletin board sets; instead, they should plan their instruction and leave space for displaying student work!
· Teachers should plan spaces for students to become independent learners and thinkers—teachers provide the structure and then give students the opportunity to provide ownership. Instead of being “the teacher’s classroom,” it becomes “our classroom.”
Spaces & Places is an awesome organizational resource, as Diller provides guidance for every area of your classroom…she even has suggestions about where to keep your office supplies so that you never lose your stapler! What I love best about this resource is that I can see myself succeeding! The suggestions are realistic, the before and after pictures are inspiring, and the suggestions are broken down into easy to follow guidelines. I love the simplicity and practicality!
I loved this book so much that I lost focus many times, as I kept formulating plans to reorganize my class! I’m so excited to use the realistic and easy to follow plans (and the helpful worksheets at the back of the book!) to reorganize my classroom to make it more conducive to teaching and learning.
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