The beginning of the school year always has me excited for change. Classroom teachers may have the opportunity to transform their classroom space as they set up each year, but often, our libraries stay very much the same. This Take5 has some quick ideas on how to transform your library space without spending too much time or money. And, perhaps it will offer inspiration to some classroom teachers as well. How can you change up your space to keep student learning focused and your own teaching fresh and engaging?
1. Ask the students. First and foremost, any instructional space should belong to the students, so reach out to individual students or survey a larger group to find out what they want in their library (or classroom). Ask them several times throughout the year to see if they have new ideas as they learn and grow in the space. You might be surprised to hear how easily you can bring their requests to life!
2. Rearrange. Move furniture around. Change the location of your desk (or get rid of it altogether). Shift a bookshelf to a different spot (we found our shelves were fairly easy to move once we took the books off of them), restructure the organization of your student desks or tables, put a lamp in a corner of the space, add a casual seating area. Change the layout of your library collection. When considering your school library layout, this piece from Knowledge Quest suggests you keep in mind these 6 active learning spaces. And this article from Teacher.org offers "5 Questions to Tackle When Organizing the Physical Space in your Classroom."
3. Paint. Paint a section of the wall. Paint a quote on the wall. Paint a desk or table. Paint some donated stools. Use chalkboard paint or dry erase paint with magnetic primer to make the area you painted more flexible. We painted each of four columns in our library a different color which completely changed the environment from bland and sterile to bright and welcoming. We covered our circulation desk with chalkboard paint and can now add fun quotes and messages for our students. We put dry erase paint on tables in our makerspace allowing for quick feedback, planning, and designing. And Corey freshened up some furniture in her classroom, using paint to instantly transform tired old chairs into cozy places to learn. This fun article from Room2Learn shares how different colors impact learning and energize the classroom environment.
4. Hang posters. There a lots of free, downloadable posters available online that would be inexpensive to print out at a local office store (for extra savings, print posters as engineering prints in color and laminate them to make them last longer). Some favorite free posters online include these kindness posters from We Are Teachers (thanks @GCMLibrary for sharing these on Twitter), this beautiful series created by author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds, and these retro library posters.
5. Add throw pillows. Cheerful throw pillows (outdoor patio throw pillows are more durable, easy to wipe down, and often on sale this time of year) add fun color to the your instructional space. Smaller pillows can turn boring chairs into comfy lounge spots. Larger ones can be arranged on the floor to provide flexible seating options for kids. Check out these "dreamy reading corner" ideas for inspiration. You could even have students make pillows for added ownership of the space.
What are some simple ways you have transformed your library or classroom? We'd love to hear from you!
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