- Able to see, regardless of their eye sight, since they’re close to the easel, interactive white board, or projection screen.
- Assessed by their teacher during active engagements who circulates by talking with or eavesdropping on writing partnerships during turn & talks. (This may or may not demonstrate understanding of the minilesson , which means a teacher knows who may need to be pulled for a strategy lesson once the minilesson is complete).
- Focused on their teacher, not on something in their desks.
Here are five secrets to having a meeting area that works:
Need some inspiration for setting up your meeting area? Search for classroom meeting areas on Pinterest. You can also purchase a copy of Debbie Diller’s book Spaces and Places: Designing Classrooms for Literacy, which is beyond inspiring. (Chapter four is completely dedicated to whole group, small group, classroom library, and literacy work areas.)
- If kids are leaving are creating plan boxes, then you will likely be checking them. On the upside, this means kids are leaving the meeting area one by one. (Unless you have a student teacher who checks plan boxes alongside you.) The downside is that students might get chatty while they’re waiting for you to check their plan box. Talk this through with your students and determine what will work for everyone during this time.
- If kids are leaving the meeting area as soon as the link is stated, you need to have a way to get them off at the same time. I once witnessed a teacher who finished the link and said, “Scram!” which was the most disheartening thing I’ve ever heard during a workshop observation. Here are some better ways to have your students depart the meeting area:
- Call areas of the meeting area (e.g., rows on the rug, sections of a circle, clusters of chairs, kids on furniture) to leave together.
- Dismiss students by writing partnerships.
- Have students leave based on the area they’re sitting in the room (i.e., where their focus spots are).
- Play the same familiar song (e.g., a classical piece) daily and invite students to leave the meeting area silently once they’re ready to begin working. They must gather everything they need so they’re writing once the music ends.
Want to think more about meeting areas?
- Classroom layout ideas.
- More on meeting areas.
- Read “Meeting Areas are for Everyone” in Day by Day: Refining Writing Workshop Through 180 Days of Reflective Practice for more on setting up or re-envisioning your meeting area.
- This giveaway is for TWO COPIES of Spaces and Places: Designing Classrooms for Literacy by Debbie Diller. Many thanks to Stenhouse Publishers for donating a copy for two separate readers.
- For a chance to win this copy of Spaces and Places, please leave a comment about this post by Tuesday, August 12th at 11:59 p.m. EDT. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winners, whose names I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Thursday, August 14th.
- Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. From there, my contact at Stenhouse will ship your book out to you. (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
We’ll wrap-up our week of blog posts with a Twitter Chat on Monday, August 11th at 8:30 p.m. EDT. This will be an opportunity to talk about procedures that have worked in the past and new ones to start before the school year begins.
Once again, Stacey, Two Writing Teachers is on fire! You guys came back from your July break with a bang. This week-long series on sharpening your routines is perfectly timed. I just started back to school (as you know) so your post today and Tara’s yesterday on writer’s notebooks is just what I need. We do have a meeting area in our room but it’s kind of blah. So thinking of ways to jazz it up….. But one idea that captured my attention here was sharing with students the expectations for what happens in the meeting area, so that they recognize it as something other than just a place to sit for a lesson. Thanks for giving me something to think about. Glad you all are back from your break! (And also hope your break was everything you needed it to be.)
Thank you for this timely blog series this week. I find myself looking forward to each day’s nuggets of inspiration. I am moving from 1st grade back to 5th this year and am eager to get into my classroom next week to define the spaces in my classroom. Thank you for the chance to win the Debbie Diller book! It’s on my very long must-read book list!
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).