Ro left a comment a couple of days ago asking about meeting areas in upper elementary school classrooms. I’ve been corresponding with her, but thought that it might be useful to open up a bit of my thinking on the site.
I believe it was Don Graves who said that having the kids in your classroom together with you on the rug/in a meeting area is like putting your arms around them all since you’re all so close. (That’s not great paraphrasing, but I think you can get the idea.) Having a meeting area means that the kids are close to you, which helps me in the following ways:
By the time students get to the middle of the fifth grade, many of them complain about sitting on the rug since their bodies are getting bigger while the class size and the rug size is staying the same. Therefore, having flexible seating options, like benches around the sides of the rug, works well to accommodate those students who are truly getting too big for the rug. However, I’ve found that if I sit on the rug, and not on my chair, every now and then, this problem usually disappears.
My classroom in NY was by no means the perfect classroom, but by my third year in East Harlem, it looked pretty much like I wanted it to with furniture around the sides of our rug. If you’d like to take a look at some photos then click here, here, here, or here. (Note: These are albums, not individual photos, so it might take you awhile to sift through.)
I am a literacy consultant who has spent over a decade working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grade K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).