Whose Classroom Is It Anyway?

For days or even weeks before the first day of school, teachers all over the world are busy setting up their classrooms. There are bulletin boards to be covered, supplies to be organized, notebooks and folders to be labeled, books to be sorted and displayed…..but in the 4th grade classroom at Charles River School, teachers Teresa Baker and Laura Mutch were spending those days at Home Depot buying caution tape, tape measures, safety vests, and work buckets with the slogan, “LET’S DO THIS.” Their days in their classroom were devoted to stacking furniture, strewing caution tape everywhere and setting up “to do “ lists for the various crews of students who would take on the responsibility to set up their classroom by themselves.
The first day in fourth grade was completely different for these students since when they arrived at school their classroom was truly a Construction Site! They met in the Library, where they were given hard hats and began to explore questions like: What’s the purpose of school anyway? How should a classroom look? What’s important to have in a classroom? The students then performed a site inspection of the construction site (classroom) and working in teams, began the work of planning, problem solving, and decision making using the ‘answers’ to the questions discussed earlier.
The next day and a half were completely devoted to the construction of the classroom. Students planned the layout of the classroom spaces and furniture creating learning areas. There were crews that moved furniture, designed bulletin boards, set up a library/reading space, labeled files/folders/notebooks and organized the supplies. Students generated their own questions about the bulletin board themes that they chose. These questions, such as Why was Albert Einstein so smart? When did the Earth form? Why should we help people? provided a springboard to begin the various areas of study; multiple intelligence theory, Science, Community Service.

Does your school do something similar?

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