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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: classroom tour 2015

OK everyone, get ready: this post is going to be super picture-heavy and LONG. Today I'm giving you a tour of my classroom setup for the 2015-2016 school year! With 7 days of classes done, you would think I would be done setting up my room. I'm not. But I've given up on waiting until everything is done- if I do, I'm not sure it will happen before Christmas! Ugh. So here we go! :)

Let's start at my front door, shall we? There is a small alcove, with doors to the art, music, and band lesson rooms, off of the hallway. This picture is from inside the alcove, looking into my room:

I love the "Welcome to our village" poster (I got mine here) and the wall showing the benefits of music (movement, beauty, soul, intelligence, and connections- you can get the printables for that one here). I feel like my basic philosophy of music education- the importance of music for its own sake, and the importance of building community in the classroom- is summed up in these displays, welcoming everyone to my room. 

Just inside the door, I have a line of minion duct tape, where I have the students line up at the end of class (I call out, "Minions assemble!" and they all stand up straight and quiet), with my wall of shelves on the right and my boomwhackers hung on the closet doors with velcro. Next to the boomwhackers I have a small "rest area", with my large speaker system next to that (in front of the blue chalkboard). On the floor next to the minion tape, I have two sets of music lines, which I use for centers to practice letter names of notes. This is looking back at that side of the room from the inside:

On the blue chalkboard is one of my newest projects: my word wall! I worked with some other elementary music teachers this summer to re-write our district curriculum based on the new National Core Arts Standards, and part of the curriculum we developed was a vocabulary list for each grade. I printed all of the vocabulary words, put them on construction paper that matches the color paper I use for that grade's lesson objectives visual (I'll get to that), and lined them up by grade. 

Above the vocabulary words I have some posters describing the various elements of music: rhythm, pitch, timbre, articulation, form, beat, dynamics, tempo, and harmony. I considered separating the vocabulary words by musical element, and putting the appropriate words under each poster, but since not every grade has a word for each element, and some have many more words than others, I realized it would look really wonky and would probably be more confusing than helpful. I may change my mind later, but for now I'm happy with my rainbow of words :)

In the previous picture you can see the rolling whiteboard, which I keep next to the word wall. Behind that board is my recorder karate board, which you can see in my other post here. I have it hidden right now because I start recorders in January with my 3rd graders. That means I have a few more months to figure out what to do with my whiteboard when I need to have my recorder stuff visible...

Facing the word wall, on the other side of my front door, I have my behavior management board, computer table (which also serves as a secondary "rest area"), lesson objectives for each grade, and piano. Can I just say how excited I am about my new Chromebooks??? I got them from a DonorsChoose project this summer to replace my ancient iMacs (you know, the originals from 1998 that came in a bunch of flavors...) and can't wait to start using them with my students!!

My behavior management board is almost the same as last year- you can read about my system with the classes moving up the "piano keys" in this post. I am making a few changes, though, mostly to the "color houses" that I started in my room and rolled out now to the whole school in a PBIS / Harry Potter-style system, which you can read more about here. We are continuing the color house system school-wide this year, but are moving away from the PBIS system of giving tickets for positive behavior and more towards building relationships and community through the houses. Along those lines, I created "classroom jobs" for each house, which will rotate every half-trimester throughout the school year:

The attendance group is in charge of telling me where any missing students are, the supplies group passes out pencils, papers etc to each group and the clean up group collects everything, the line leader group leads the class to the door at the end of class (I have a hand signal system that you can read about here), and the teacher helper group does anything else that needs doing ;) The compliment group is a new thing I am trying this year- at the end of class, someone from that house gives a compliment to someone in a different house. I am continuing to give happy notes this year, but I like the idea of having them practice giving compliments as well, instead of just receiving them.

The piano now sits where my old desk was, and I am so happy with how much more open the room feels. The lesson objectives are posted in some dollar store frames with scrapbook paper inside, and I write the objectives on the glass with a dry erase marker. I use the colors in those frames to color code my word wall and the lesson plans in my planbook, so it's easy for my eyes to find the grade I'm looking for.

I had the pillows last year but moved them here in the new space next to the piano. On the other side of the door (which leads to the band lesson room), I have a crate with some music-related books in it (everything from stories, to biographies, some magazines, and even an encyclopedia- just whatever I already had on hand). My plan is to have this as a center activity, where students can relax with the pillows and read.

Now we're on the other side of the room. Here's what that whole side looks like (taken from near the front door entrance):

I have my DIY smartboard set up at the front of the room, my new small teacher desk in the corner, and the student chairs lined up by color house groups:

Now, I use duct tape all over my carpeted floor. For most teachers this is probably not the best option- it does leave residue when you pull it up. For me, though, it's the best solution. It's cheap, comes in tons of colors and patterns, and my carpet was already in pretty bad shape so I'm not making it any worse with the tape :) Just a word of caution for anyone thinking about doing something similar!

Next to my "smartboard" is my music stand, where I keep all of the essentials I need while I'm teaching:

I have a magnetic kitchen clock/timer and laminated copy of my teaching schedule on top, my seating charts on my clipboard, and my projector remote and other supplies in the pockets underneath, You can read more about how I set up my music stand here. My seating charts got a major upgrade this year- I'll write a more detailed post about what I did later, but you can get this and tons of other seating arrangements in my seating chart set here

Behind the chairs I have some instrument posters, and extra chairs and stands for the band, which meets in my room once a week. On the floor next to the chairs I have some velcro strips that pull double-duty as a giant staff for practicing letter names and as lines for my kindergarten students when I need them in rows (like if I'm reading a book etc), and next to that I have circle spots, again with the same house colors.

I loved having the circle spots color-coded last year. My kindergarten students usually sit on the floor in those spots, but I also have the older students use them for movement, cup games, and other activities on the floor. When they go to make a circle, I can simply tell the green house to find a green spot, and so on. It gives them some choice but not too much choice. 

We'll finish up back over by my front door with the wall of shelves:

I've written before about small percussion storage in general, as well as how I organize my hand drums and triangles. I'm also continuing to color-code all of the writing supplies like I did last year:

My main project that I cannot seem to get done, though, is lining my shelves. As much as I love my shelves, the reality is they are pretty gross. There is graffiti, dust, chips, and other general grossness all over them, and no amount of cleaning is making much of a difference. Eventually I would love to paint them, but I wanted something to add some color and make them cleaner for the time being:

I'm using tablecloths from Party City (the kind with some cotton backing on it- not just the thin plastic ones) and attaching them to the shelves with double-sided tape. I'm telling you, it sounds ridiculous, but that was the cheapest option I could come up with! I was shocked to realize how much it would cost to line all of the shelves with contact paper.... sadness. But I'm happy with how the tablecloths are working out so far. I've only managed to get those 4 shelves done so far, but once I've done the others I'll post another picture :)

OK, whew! I think we've made it through the whole room! Thanks for sticking with me through this incredibly-long post. Best wishes to everyone on another awesome school year!!

I'm linking up with Tracy King- if you want to see TONS of amazing drool-worthy music classrooms, head over there to check them out!


  1. Oh my goodness! What a beautiful learning space!!! I love that you have divided your room into two spaces with chairs and not. That must make your transitions so much easier. I love your display right outside the door too. So cute! Thanks for linking up!

    1. Thanks so much! I love the acronym bulletin board, and I'm going to be adding some student-made pieces to it soon too- I just have to take the time to hang them! That is always my downfall... Having 2 spaces definitely makes things so much easier. I was blessed to have a similar setup at my previous school as well and was so thrilled to see this classroom after taking this job! Before that, I was always having to move chairs etc to get enough space for movement. Thanks for hosting the linky!

  2. Okay, I'm officially jealous. You have windows! Windows!! Also, I LOVE your word wall and that you say "minions assemble" to line up the students. I'd only ever seen small portions of your room before, so it's nice to see the whole tour. Your room is amazing!! #fermatafridays

    1. Aren't you going to say anything about my SKYLIGHTS!?!? Haha. It really is a wonderful space. Thanks for the comment!

  3. I love that you have colors that correspond with your chairs!! #FermataFridays

    1. My color-coded seating system is my FAVORITE. Seriously, it has made such a difference in my teaching. The students love it too. You can read more about how my color-coding kingdom got expanded school-wide last year in this post: Thanks for the comment!

  4. Your room is huge and fantastic!! Nice! Kelly

    1. Thank you! It really is awesome to have such a nice space :)

  5. I love your classroom set up! Also, your music stand idea is genius :)

    1. Thank you! It is amazing how a simple thing like a HD apron has made such a difference in my teaching ;) And I am blessed with an awesome space.