Structured Learning Environment Classroom Reveal


Yes, it has taken me half a school year to get to my classroom reveal.  I saw the posts popping up in August showing the cute decor and stations designed with precision, and I too wanted to post the pictures of all of my hard work.  As a special education teacher though, I had to make adjustments faster than I could get the previous pictures uploaded.  As I got to know my new students, I had to make changes, and changes, and more changes.  Then came the activities and the meetings and the visuals, and here I am in December, finally sitting down to reveal my room.

When designing a room for students with special needs, it's very important to consider how your students experience the world.  This year I do not have any students who are prone to classroom destruction, so I'm able to have a lot more things on the walls and items out in the open than I was able to have in certain years.

Yes, it's a classroom, but it's also where I spend most of my day.  I'm the type of person who is affected by their environment, and because I'm blessed with the ability to design my work environment, I want it to be nice.  Still, I need to think about my students' needs.  I know from experience that there's nothing more frustrating than to spend too much time and money on a classroom that is not going to be somewhat maintained by my students.  So, I first have to think about the group that I have each year.  What are my students' needs?  What are their likes and dislikes, and what will make them feel at home and still be functional enough to support them in their educational goals?

The Entrance


I made a double-sided curtain for my door because I have a large window, and sometimes my students need a little more privacy.  Next to the door is my germ station where I keep tissues, hand sanitizer and bandages.  I also have an outbox for papers and other things that need to be dropped off around campus.  The stop sign is a necessary reminder for some students.  I also have two new signs of motivation this year; I like to think of these as our classroom mission statement:

"In Mrs. Morrow's class, we don't do easy.  We make easy happen through hard work and learning."
"In Mrs. Morrow's class, we help one another, try our very best, learn a lot, raise our hands, care and share, listen closely, make new friends, use manners, and have lots of fun."


Teacher Command Post


This is my desk area, although I never sit at it.  It's more of a command post for needed office supplies and important papers.

World Map


My fun new addition this year is a world map sticker that's on my dry erase board.  Over the large sticker are magnets of animals indigenous to each region.  The students love exploring it, and I love looking at it like a piece of classroom art.

Technology Zone


I have two classroom computers and two iPads in my room, as well as buttons, switches and tons of cords.  Students are allowed to bring their own earphones for when they're using the computer, and they keep them in the red bin between the computers.  In previous years I created systems for computer rotations, proper use of technology and communication aids for what sites the students were supposed to be working on, but I do not need those aids this year.

Sensory Area


This small area is very important to some of my students.  There is a small hammock swing, a mat, and an assortment of sensory items for the students to explore.  Students earn coins throughout the week and can buy time in the sensory area, and other students have it built into their schedule.

Morrow's Market


I set up this little Market Math area for students to practice their money skills.  Each item has a price taped to it, and I created word problems with pictures of the foods that the students need to find.  Students put the found items in their basket and then use the cash register calculator to find the total cost of their items.  They then use a dry erase marker to choose the correct cost of their items out of three choices.

Ready to Learn


Students each have a clip with their picture on it, and every day they start in the green, which means they are ready to learn.  Students who are on task and doing their best can move up the ladder to fabulous and extraordinary.  Students who are making poor choices, deliberately not doing what they're supposed to be doing or behaving in an unsafe way are moved down the ladder to make better choices or talk about a consequence.  I pay coins to students who move up on the ladder, and privileges are taken away from students who move down the ladder.  Each day, the students color in where they landed on their communication log so that their parents can know more about their day.

Wallets


I keep the students' earned coins in their "wallets," out of reach of most students.  It's important for them to see the coins they're earning throughout the day, but it's more efficient for me to keep them high in one place so that coins are not played with or misplaced.

Structure


This area really is the foundation of how we stay organized and on track every day.  This area includes our classroom schedule, classroom expectations, pacing calendars, scope & sequence, lesson plans, morning warm-ups and the students' mailboxes.  Under the mailboxes are bins for their backpacks and coats.  This area really provides me structure so that I'm able to efficiently and consistently provide the students structure.

Math Zone


In this area I keep all of my math activities and supplies.  It's very difficult to hang student work on cinder block, so I found these cork board squares on Amazon that have adhesive on the back.  I can now use push pins to change out student work much more frequently for display.

Reading Zone


This is where I keep my reading supplies, but I hung the students' science work in this area because it looked great.  I thought moving into a bigger room this year would solve everything, but I'm still managing to bust it at the seams.

Science and Social Studies Zone


Next to my big shelves that hold my science and social studies activities, I have an IEP activity tower.  I like to keep the specific materials for each student separated from my other materials so that I can easily find them when collecting data on a goal.

Station Rotations


I created this visual on the dry erase board for students to know where they are supposed to go when we rotate.  It's especially helpful at the beginning of the year or when I decide to change the rotations from what the students have gotten used to.  This system makes it really easy for me to move the students' pictures around and have to talk a lot less.

Work System Schedule


I have one student this year who started the year choosing not to work at all.  I knew I needed to put this student on a very clear work schedule, but the simple icons didn't work for this student.  So, I took pictures of each of the activities, with a picture of my USA rug where this student likes to sit for breaks as a symbol for earning a break.  I cut a pencil case and adhered it to the wall.  I taught the student to look at the symbols and understand that each symbol represented an activity, and that when the activity was complete, the symbol would be dropped into the pencil case, inching that much closer to a break.

After many weeks, we built work time up to twenty-five minutes before taking a break, and I've now been able to substitute the actual photographs of the activities to simple number icons that allow me to not have to change the schedule when swapping out activities.

Calm Place


This year I built a calm room in my classroom.  I've since added a colorful mat like the one in the sensory area, as well as two more bean bags.  I have a feather chandelier hanging inside, which is also another great sensory experience.  I have a CD player inside where students can listen to music or audiobooks.  I also have a planetary projection light and a multi-color laser LED light experience.  I made the calm room out of PVC pipe and fabric, and the students absolutely love it.  They work so hard for coins to buy time to spend in this area.

LED Light Experience


This is just one of the pictures of what it looks like inside when the music and lights are going.  I originally built this room for my students with visual impairments, but it has turned out to be a favorite place for everyone, including me!

Every year my classroom looks very different.  There were years that I just couldn't have so much stuff out, as I had students who required me to keep items high and walls minimal.  I also needed a chill zone which took the place of my calming sensory room.  Every year it's fun to get to know my students and get ready for the challenge of designing a room that will be just right for that group.  Because of my student population this year, I was able to create a room that is rich in textures, sound, and a nice balance of darkness and light.  Many students with visual impairments can still see light, yet they can be overwhelmed by too much light provided by the environment, and they need the light to dim.  This little room allows us to have the best of both worlds.

2 comments:

  1. Hello, and sorry it has taken me a bit to get back to you. I actually bought this map on Zulily for a discounted price, so I looked back in my order history to find out where it actually came from, as Zulily has rotating items. It's made by Janod, and I found it on Amazon (you can copy the link). Like I said, I paid a discounted price, but you never know when it will pop back up on Zulily again, so maybe this will help as a reference. Thank you for visiting my site! :)

    https://www.amazon.com/Janod-MagnetiStick-Wall-D%C3%A9cor-World/dp/B00CB5Z82M/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1486593792&sr=1-1-spons&keywords=janod&psc=1

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