Why put much thought into learning zones?
What are learning zones? You are a new teacher. Classroom setup is a breeze, right? Just put those tables in a neat configuration, set up desk plates, seating, hang a few posters, and call it a day! If only life were so simple. Truthfully, learning zones may be the most important thing you establish in your classroom. Good organization will help you get off to a good start.
So, What kind of learning zones to consider?
For me, the most important learning zone is where I will teach small groups. By the door is NOT so good! Every time someone comes to the door, goes in or out, or another class is transitioning down the hall, “poof”! Student focus has left the building! The best location for your Small Group Zone is in a corner opposite the door. You will be able to keep the door activities in sight while maintaining focus on your small group lessons, one-one conferencing, assessing, etc.
1st BONUS TIP: Make sure your students are seated with their back to the door, facing you. This is where my small group met last year.
What other “quiet” zones can you identify?
Another learning zone to consider is the Library Center. Generally, library centers are filled with organized tubs by genre and author, comfy seating, and are nestled in a corner away from frequent student movement. Guess what? Library centers are great paired with your small groups area. BONUS TIP #2: Students who are in the library center will learn literacy skills as they “eavesdrop” on your group activities!
Which learning zones go well with your small group and library zones?
The computer and iPad centers are a perfect pairing as you move away from your quiet zones. They are a bit busier, but not as busy as block and tub activities.
Let’s Talk Noise!
Every teacher is different in how much noise he/she will tolerate. If a classroom is too quiet, I have always felt not much real learning or problem-solving must be going on. So, zoning your classroom is vital in keeping things manageable. If you have noticed, I began in a corner or along a wall, then moved clockwise around my room. We have finally arrived at the block and center tub area. Let’s face it, it will not be quiet. It is, however, far enough away (across the room-opposite side) that it will not interfere with your small group lessons. Here is your #3 BONUS TIP: Have students to use ASL motions to tell you something when you do not want to be disturbed. The letter sign for R is used for restroom, the sign for D is used for drink, and so on. Kids know these are non-verbal ways of communicating. Non-verbal communication when contacting the teacher can be the best thing you’ve ever done for center time each day!
Large Group Zone for All the Tubs and Games
The last learning zone that rings all the bells and whistles for noise is the whole group zone. This area should be open with lots of space for students to take center tubs, tech learning (like Bee Bots or Code and Go Mice), games, puzzles…play-doh and more. Your last BONUS TIP: Have students to use table tops across the room for play-doh, or have them to take lap desks to areas across the room away from your small group area.
Zoning your classroom is the most important setup tool you have in being prepared for school. Teaching routines and procedures will go more smoothly too!
Other Resources you may find useful:
Our new #tfedubasics Chat meets every Wednesday at 8:30 EST (7:30 CST). Our very first chat was about learning zones for optimal learning. You can read the archive of our chat here. Lots of good ideas are shared in our chats! We hope you will join us! #tfedubasics on Twitter!
Join our #tfedubasics Facebook Group for free resources, and to continue the discussion:
Use this free template to do a virtual design of your learning space:
Need some things for your classroom? Look at these products in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!
Thank you for reading!