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La Tawnya Robinson is a third-grade teacher at Falcon Ridge Elementary in Fontana, California. She believes that creating a classroom that is well organized and inviting has a positive impact on learning. “Students are asked to absorb so much during the year. When they are in my classroom, I want them to be in a warm and welcoming environment as they take on the challenges of the day.” Follow La Tawnya’s journey as a teacher on her YouTube channel, SmartieStyle.
This year our school district had a superhero theme, and I wanted to find a way to incorporate the theme into our classroom. With their superhero creations (the original idea came from fellow teacher Linda Kamp), students were able to share what they felt their greatest academic success of the year was: “Learning About Science,” “Math,” “Improved Reading Level,” and so on.
It’s important to instill independence and organization in students. Our mailboxes are one of the places that serve this purpose. Kids know that all graded work and school announcements will be placed in their mailboxes to go home in their weekly folders. The folders are also a tool to help parents feel more organized.
This wall usually displays student writing, but on occasion I incorporate art with the writing. Here, kids used watercolors over a drawing to enhance their written response to a story we read together. Scrapbook paper and decorative clothespins added a special touch.
Monthly Book Bins
Over the years, I have gathered picture books on topics ranging from holidays to important people in history. I have organized them in bins by month, which makes retrieving the books when I need them quick and easy. Each morning, a student shares a fun fact related to a picture book (these are printed on sheets and placed in the bins), and then I read the book aloud, after morning recess. The time we spend reading these together is one of the highlights of our day.
The classroom library is one of our favorite spots. I want students to feel the same way I feel when I am looking for my next book at the local bookstore. The books are organized by genres, with illustrated labels explaining each genre. The comfy chair is either for me, a guest reader, or our school mascot to sit in and read to the class. On the walls, we have our fake bookshelf, fish tank, and birdcage, which were made by a very artistic parent. After you’ve read 10 books, you write your name on the bookshelf; 30 books gets you to the fish tank, and 40 to the birdcage! Our library is also where I sit to read my daily picture book to students.
Each month, I recognize two kids in my class as my Students of the Month. For those weeks, they get to take turns using our tent in the library corner during independent reading time, and also while I’m reading to the class.
Photos: Eric Reed/AP Images for Scholastic, Inc.