1. Before you organize your furniture, make a list of all of the “locations” you will need in your classroom. Our room has the following locations: whole group meeting area, information/technology, small group reading area, conferencing area, literature circle discussion, and creative arts. All of these locations are immersed in our classroom library.
2. Think about each location and the amount of social activity and movement that takes place there. For example, we have our teacher-led small group table near our literature circle discussion area so that only one part of the room is buzzing with talk while the rest of the room is available for quiet independent reading and writing.
3. Our classroom library takes up the perimeter of the classroom. By having the library spread out it not only allows for better traffic flow during book selection but can give your entire room the warm and cozy feeling that one gets from a well organized classroom library. A variety of large pillows and throw blankets add to the atmosphere.
4. Once your classroom is set up the way you want it, take a digital photo of each location. Posting these photos near each location serves as a checkpoint for the students during clean up. They can look at the photo and make sure the area is organized the way it is supposed to be. This is especially helpful as you develop your routines at the beginning of the year.
5. Have several practice rounds of organization and clean up games at the beginning of the year. Deliberately rearrange items in each location. Have cooperative groups assigned to each of the locations. Using the photos, students try to fix their assigned location to look like the photograph. This attention to detail can serve as a foundation for the expectation of organization and cleanliness in your classroom.