I am a huge fan of reality television. So You Think You Can Dance, Top Chef, The Great Food Truck Race, Design Star, Next Food Network Star, Project Runway, The Glee Project, Work of Art, Supernanny, Tabatha’s Salon Takeover, Restaurant Impossible, Storage Wars, Biggest Loser, What Not to Wear, The Peoples’ Court, to name a few of my favorite reality-based shows…
In fact, I like to think that I am better at watching reality tv than your average person. I love thinking through the production of these shows: what goes on behind the scenes, what new challenges they will think up next, how the producers pull the strings to get the results they want.
The biggest benefit, however, is that I learn about who I am, who I want to be, and who I definitely do NOT want to be from observing the behavior of the people I see.
Case in point: Karl from Design Star (an example of the former, not the latter). On the final episode, Karl really shined. Although he did not win the whole shebang, he came up with what I thought was the better idea for a decorating show: Inspired Design. His pilot episode consisted of him finding inspiration in architectural structures and bringing that inspiration into the room he was designing.
So, today’s slice of life, in honor of Karl from DesignStar, is my own Inspired Design, featuring my 8th grade language arts classroom!
Instead of architecture in the traditional sense, my inspiration came from Day By Day:Refining Workshop Through 180 Days of Reflective Practice by Ruth Ayres andStacey Shubitz, which (along with Nancie Atwell’s work) serves as a sort of structural framework for my classroom practices.
This is the view as you walk into the classroom. I am lucky enough to have a husband who is handy and as dedicated to teaching as I am. He built the 8 benches that serve as our mini-lesson gathering place (per Ruth’s brilliant suggestion for middle school).
Here is our gathering place from a different angle. If I am using the media cart, I can sit within the circle at the cart. If I am not, I usually sit on the blue ottoman, to close the circle.
This view from the far back corner shows the bulletin board I use as a holder for our classroom charts. Because I teach 3 different sections (co-taught, honors, and an intervention class), I use safety pins and layer our charts. This way, it works the way a flip chart might work in an elementary classroom, and I am able to flip from one chart to another without confusing students by posting 3 versions.
My classroom library is organized by the first letter of the author’s last name (not alphabetized with each letter). Mostly, I use this system because it is most convenient for me when trying to help a student locate a book. I used to have my books grouped by genre, but I could never find anything. My students select books as a result of book talks and recommendations far more often than by browsing.
The baskets on the library shelves showcase special authors, including those who have visited our school and those whose books stand the test of time.
The counter holds some of the supplies we use for writing workshop, such as clipboards, paper, and writing utensils. Special paper and tools are in the drawers and cabinets below the counter. You may also notice the textbooks on the classroom shelf. We only use certain texts from the anthology, since our primary texts are excerpts from tradebooks and student writing samples.
I keep a table at the back of the room for small group instruction. Carpet squares and comfy chairs are used during independent reading and writing time, so students can spread out.
This last view shows that my teacher desk is flush against the wall, off to the side. Because I am constantly working directly with students during class, this really serves as my organizational center.