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Classroom Tour 14-15

Kids started school last Wednesday so I’m a little behind in posting my classroom tour.  I wanted everything to be ready and perfect before I posted it.  My classroom decor is a black and white color scheme with pops of teal.  I mix patterns (damask, chevron, polka dots) but that’s just been incidentally.  My room reflects me and my style, but the decor makes it feel homely.  This isn’t the kind of theme that’ll need to be changed each year, and that’s what works best for me.

Did you hear that?  That’s me laughing at myself.

After spending many hours there on Sunday this past weekend, like I always do at the beginning of the year, I realized I just needed to take pictures, because really, my room will never be completely organized.  As much as it pains me to admit this, as much as I want it to be completely organized, I just run out of time and energy.  I moved into a new school this year because my previous school closed.  I’m loving the touches of a new building as opposed to the fifty year old buildings I’m used to, but it just takes so much time to start over from scratch.

I continued my black and white color scheme that controls most of my life.  Because there is so much blue in my room (our rooms are color coordinated with our colored pods) I decided to add a blue accent.  I ended up using more of a turquoise/sea foam color because that’s where my heart led me.  I love the way this turned out.

I bought this rug on a whim this year from IKEA and I love the warm welcome it adds to my door.  The chalkboard is a simple mirror (you know $5 from whatever big box store you shop at).  Last year I used it for computer information, but I didn’t need the space this year.  I’m going to use it for welcome messages throughout the year, if I can get the kids to stop smearing it. 🙂  The curtains were used on my windows last year but clearly wouldn’t work on the large window.  This is perfect (unless you’re a tall guy and have to duck on your way in.)

This is the view of most of my room right from the doorway.

Right on the door frame is my bathroom monitoring system.  I know there are a lot of strong feelings on this, but hear me out.  Students have a half stick with their number on it.  They move it below the 1 magnet, start the two minute timer, and use the restroom.  When they come back they stop and reset the timer.  They have two bathroom breaks per day during instruction time but may use it during arrival and dismissal.  Because of an incident a few years ago in my district, we have to have some sort of monitoring system if students are using the bathroom outside of class breaks.  I do not like taking class breaks too often during the day because there are such few stalls and it takes quite some time.  There is no consequence for going outside of the two minutes (as long as you aren’t caught playing or anything) or for using more than two during our time.  This truly is just a monitoring system.  If the timer goes off it tells me to send someone to check on a student.  If a student has used their two breaks and needs to go again, they go.  But if it’s habitual maybe there’s something else than needs exploring and this helps me keep an eye on it subtly.
Next is the student station.  On top of the station is the Turn In Bins.  The white basket on top is the Borrow Bin.  When I find random, loose student supplies they go in the Borrow Bin.  If someone doesn’t have something, they know they can go there to borrow it.  This has helped keep students responsible for their supplies so they don’t lose them forever.
The black cubes store resources the students will use during centers or May Do time.  The bin on the left is my Fluency Bin.  You can’t see the whisper phones and task cards in there. The bin in the center contains Hot Dots and the cards.  The bin on the right contains dice of various sizes and dominoes for math centers.

The middle shelves contain other resources the students may use.  On the left is extra scissors and glue.  The middle contains highlighters and goggles for writing.  The bin on the left was empty, but it now contains are Tidy Bins that we place out during art activities.  I copied the idea from Rowdy in Room 300.

Continuing to the left….

Here are our 5 student computers, and a built in bulletin board that I’m using to display student work.  It’s currently being used to show a bit about ourselves.  I took the picture before I was finished with the board.  Oops!
Above that, is my word wall.  This is a moment when I’m showcasing reality and the not-always-Pinterest-worthy reality that is a normal classroom.  Behind there are cinder blocks.  Cinder blocks, people.  Do you know what sticks to cinder blocks?  Just about nothing.  So here I am, standing on a wobbly table filled with computers (you know since I’m not allowed to unassemble or move them), trying to reach higher than my short self is able, with a giant roll of expensive Fadeless paper that I’m trying to get stuck.  I had preassembled the paper with letters and borders.  However, in my mess of an attempt, half of them fell off and the border bubbled.  I tried to use packing tape to help it stick, and rubber cement to help it stick, and hot glue to help it stick, and anything else that I could think of.  I am not sure what combination finally got it to work, but in the process my paper got way wrinkled, my letters got even more lopsided and wavy than I’m sure they already did, but once it was up, that thing was up.
I strategically neglected to show you my desk area.  🙂  It’s not so much a desk, and I’m trying to adjust myself to not having a desk.  And it’s been a learning process.

Next to my desk is the beginning of the white board.  My two Share Chair stools (with correct spelling) tuck partially underneath a ledge.  I use two laundry baskets that stack to store clipboards and white boards.  My agenda is up above here.


Next is my morning meeting space.  Mounted between two white boards is my flat screen tv (yay for technology!).  Please pardon the giant glue spots.  Apparently, there was a bulletin board between there, that they ripped off to install an interactive whiteboard, which then got uninstalled to go to a primary room.  I hate those glue spots.  Any ideas for covering it short of just throwing up more butcher paper?
The posters were a freebie I posted last year on Owl-Ways Be Inspired.  They are quotes from well-known texts that I try to use as reminders for my kids.
Here’s a view from behind my chair from inside the library.  I got my chair and the rugs from IKEA last year.  I think they still carry both.  The rack was one I found from Old Time Pottery this year and I HAD to have it.
There are two large built in bulletin boards behind the shelves.  I will display posters for non-fiction text features, fiction comprehension skills, and reading strategies as we learn about each one.  Their book boxes are stored on the top shelf.  The books along the right are mine that the students cannot choose from.
The books are organized into black and white bins.  The black bins are for fiction books, and the white bins are for non-fiction books.  I got the shelves from IKEA last year.  It seems they maybe changed the name and style a bit.  I have them in high gloss for easy cleaning and to prevent scuffing.
I created round labels for the bins to identify the authors or series in each.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an exact template match for the Avery set I used so the border is a bit wonky.  Drives me a little bit nuts!
Something new I’m trying this year is having students place a clothespin on the bin when they take a book out.  I’m hoping this helps them identify where they need to return their books to.  Crossing my fingers!
I’m lucky to have these huge picture windows (please forgive the coloring.  I’m still not the best photographer and I couldn’t figure out the natural light, indoor light combo).  Because the inside was 85″+ I couldn’t find a rod that I could to hang curtains on the inside- not even a shower curtain rod.  I was walking through Wal Mart one day, saw these, and knew I needed them.  I wish they were a bit longer, but with the table and bookcases in front of it, you really can’t tell.
Behind the kidney table is a table for small group resources storage as well as my Writing Process Clip chart.
From here, you can see most of the room from the other angle.  You can see my desk area a bit, and see the mess as well 🙂


The sink area gives me quite a bit of storage.  On top are content area leveled books, Rocket Math resources, and our mailbox filing system.

When I was taking pictures last weekend I neglected to take a picture of my math anchor chart board.  This is a picture I took earlier in the summer.  In that top left corner are now tissue paper poms.  The background is wrapping paper, and the border is tissue paper as well.

This bookshelf stores our daily binders as well as some other resources like dictionaries.  Our school wide posters are displayed here as well.

Right next to the door is a dry erase board I got super cheaply.  I use this to write notes for dismissal, or use the magnets to attach notes from parents.  I need reminders or I forget.

I love looking at classroom pictures for new ideas.  Hopefully this has given you a few ideas for structuring your room!




  • Gorgeous, Tessa. What if you layered rows of the black and white dot border over the glue dot area? Otherwise, i can stop by with some white paint and brushes.

    • I love the idea of using border! Maybe I'll even do the turquoise color to help visually frame the tv.

      Thanks for offering to help paint, but I don't think I'm allowed. :/

  • I have the cinder block issue, too. This year I am trying Gorilla Tape and so far, so good! It's only been a few days, but nothing has fallen off the wall yet. It may be worth a try for your wall!

  • 2 bathroom breaks a day?! As an adult who goes more than that, a parent, and an educator. I am appalled that teachers do this… the bathroom is a right. Yes, some play in there, but really?! That is NOT fair!

    • As a parent and an educator, I'm surprised that you think that any child that needs to use the bathroom would be denied that opportunity regardless of a system in a classroom. It's not two breaks a day, it is two during instructional time. You do not have to agree with the system that I use but it's never caused an issue for the parents of the students in my classroom nor the students themselves.

    • When we revise we look at it "with new eyes" to focus on what we can make better. Just something to catch their attention and change things up a bit.

  • Another idea for the glue dots is just cover them with black dots that would match your room. This way you carry the polk-a-dot idea up into the board. You could add them all the way around so it looks like it's supposed to be that way!

  • I LOVE your room, Tessa! The black and white is so cute! And I love that you have windows! I don't have any and feel like I'm in a cave. 🙁 The natural light really brightens things up. 🙂


    • Thanks! I love them too. I worked in a room for a few years with no windows, so I feel ya. I only turn on one light switch most days to help rely on the natural light.

  • What did you use to hang the curtains by the picture windows? I’m assuming they are for decor and don’t close, right? Looks great!

    • That’s correct. I used small curtain rods, the width of a standard window in your house. I hung the rods with 3M hooks.


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