If I could design my own classroom, I know exactly what it would look like. There would be all kinds of reading spaces. I know what encourages students to read quietly-a space where they can be alone. My ideal room would have all sorts of nooks and crannies. There would be soft lighting with comfortable spots to plop down and read. Bean bag chairs would sit alongside overstuffed chairs just asking for someone to sit in them and read.
Unfortunately, I do not have my own space to design. I must share a classroom with others. I’ve tried several rooms before I landed in my current spot. First, I had a small classroom. But there were other teachers using the same space before and after me. But I adjusted and was flexible-not the best for the students however. Then a third teacher needed the space and I had to find another.
I moved to the art room for a year but that was less than idea as well. The art room was used by the art teacher for just one period a day. Then it sat empty-the largest classroom in our building and it is used just first period. The art room was large, bright and frequently covered with art projects. Art projects that were tempting for my students to touch. But the final straw was the clay project. When the art class was doing a clay project, the room was full of clay dust. It covered all surfaces. The custodian even changed her hours so she could come in early and clean the room before I needed it. But the dust was always there.
There was no carpet in the room. All the chairs were high stools. I wasn’t happy there. The custodian suggested that I look at the computer room. It was available during my class time and was clean. I looked it over and saw the advantages. Since last January that has been my reading class ‘home’.
There are down sides to the computer room. First there are tables with thirty computers taking up most of the room. However, my students are able to find spots and make their own reading nooks. The floor is carpeted and that makes stretching out on the floor possible.
The design of the room is essential to the success of my reading class. What makes this reading intervention success is that the students read for an extended time daily. I must have spaces for the students to do that successfully. Middle school students love to socialize. Our reading spaces must discourage socializing and give the students a feeling of being alone with their book.