It's time for a Literacy Nugget straight from the Literacy Treasure Chest where you will find tips, strategies, products or anything that will make your literacy teaching life easier, more organized and more productive.
Today's Treasure tip is....
A Whole Group Gathering Area
The shared area is a space in the classroom where the class can gather as a group to hold minilessons, gather to share ideas and reflect at the end of independent working time, conduct read alouds, hold class meetings, and so much more. The whole group gathering area will become that safe space within the safe walls of the classroom. It's a place where you can share your opinions, your struggles, your successes and strengthen the classroom community bond!
Students gather in the area in a large circle or oval. When students 'Circle Up', there is no one person sitting at the head of the table! Every person has an equal part in the collaboration that will take place in this gathering space. The teacher becomes part of the circle.
Sectioning this area off with a nice carpet is a nice, warm and inviting touch! It's great to have an area rug or two or three to divide this space off from the desks, tables and other areas of the room. It can get tricky for the older grades because they are growing, but it does work! I've had personal experience with 28 fifth graders 'circled up' on the carpeted area for every minilesson for every subject. It took setting some structural boundaries and guidelines but once we practiced gathering a few times, it became a regular routine that no one complained about. As students grew throughout the year, they were able to make adjustments and it still worked.
Within this area, maybe even surrounding this area could be a comfy chair (or chairs). This adds to the warmth of this setting. It’s also great to sit in when teaching a lesson or reading aloud. If you have more than one chair surrounding the whole group gathering place, this could be used as an incentive to earn for students use during lessons and independent work time.
In this area should be a book stand, easel with a chart tablet and a bucket of supplies. These supplies would be the very same supplies needed in the small group area—markers, dry erase boards, dry erase markers, small pieces of paper, post it notes in all colors and sizes, highlighter tape and highlighters!!
Until next time...