Last November, I showed you an incredible classroom that blew me away to such a degree that it caused me to launch the Classroom Eye Candy series. Since then, I have heard from dozens of other teachers who wanted to share their classrooms as well. To keep the site from being overrun by classroom photos, and to keep the series special and exciting, I have decided to only feature classrooms when they completely blow me away.
So the time has come for the next room, and it’s a rock star! Although this 5th grade classroom also emphasizes flexible seating (which is NOT a requirement for this series, by the way), it has a very different vibe from the first one.
To start with, it has a name.
Without further ado, I bring you The Learning Lounge.
Name: Sherah Cash
Job Title: 5th Grade Science and Social Studies Teacher
School Location: Columbus, Georgia
Q: Tell me about the evolution of this classroom. What was your thinking when you put it together this way?
A: The creation of this space developed as I began my second year of teaching. During this time, I had from 25-30 students in each class period, so space was a valuable asset. Seeing that desks took up a majority of the space, I decided to eliminate them. The students welcomed the space and really enjoyed the different areas within the space. It gave them more freedom of choice and provided more of a home-like atmosphere in which they felt comfortable to relax.
All photos of students are used with parent permission.
In turn, this relaxed atmosphere produced more conversation, which in turn produced additional learning at a deeper level. After seeing all the benefits of this space, I’ve continued to use this layout concept throughout my career. The students came up with an awesome name for this space; they call it “The Learning Lounge.”
Q: Describe some of the most important spaces in your classroom and how they work. What are your favorite parts of the room? What are your students’ favorite parts?
A: Some of the most important spaces in my classroom are the gathering area up front and the free spaces throughout the room. The gathering area, also referred to as “The Learning Lounge,” is where new concepts are introduced by the teacher and the students feel free to have open conversations, which promotes connections with the content.
The free spaces include all areas of the classroom. During center time, the students are allowed freedom of choice. They select the concepts in which they need additional exposure, whether it be by reading a book or playing a learning game. During this time, students use teacher-made task cards that include previously taught concepts and upcoming content. They use the task cards in conjunction with the materials in the Dr. Who Tardis, such as cool game boards and a variety of game pieces. They can use their creativity by choosing what they want to use and making their own game rules.
Another favorite space in the room would be the Facebook bulletin board which consists of the key people we study throughout social studies. Students often just hang out in that area and discuss their favorite people and the accomplishments they made in history.
Q: Has your classroom always been like this? If not, how is the mood of the room different now that you’ve made this change?
A: My classroom has not always been like this. It became a reality after my first year of teaching. Basically, the change was promoted by needed space and became much more. It has evolved over time, and it changes yearly in its appearance. But, the major change within the space has been the change in the students I teach. The space has promoted the students in being responsible for their own learning. Ultimately, they play a major role in their own learning process and are able to self monitor their progression.
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Q: Where did you get the materials for the room?
A: Most of my furniture came from yard sales and local thrift shops. Recently, I’ve acquired some Hokki Stools from a program called Donors Choose, in which prominent people and businesses can donate to schools of their choice. The Hokki Stools are perfect because they are sturdy and have rounded bases that allow students to move while they learn. They are also portable and can move easily with the students from one location to the other. I also use pop-up tables that can be folded down after usage to allow for that constant freedom of movable space.
Students use clipboards for writing. To make it fun, I splattered paint on them. Most of the games and game boards I created myself using themes that the students would be most interested in.
Q: What else should we know when studying your room?
A: When conducting science experiments, many times I use outdoor space. I also use the hallway for additional space. Students are allowed the freedom of moving the portable furniture to all areas. I create many interactive PowerPoint games to be used on the Smartboard and computer center.
I use The Big Bang Theory to promote science and Dr. Who to promote social studies time travel. Many times the characters are incorporated into the games and content presentations. In addition, I use themed music for transitions. A variety of music is used daily, especially in my lessons. It helps the students remember the concepts taught and serves as a way to retrieve previously learned material.
Here’s a closer look at how Sherah created some of the unique pieces in her room:
Do you have an eye-candy worthy classroom? I have already received dozens of submissions, but I am only choosing classrooms that truly stop me in my tracks. If you would like to submit a classroom for consideration, send me an email through the contact form!