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Take Time to Tweak Your Classroom Setup

By Lindsey Petlak on August 17, 2014
  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

Welcome back to school! It’s time to dust the cobwebs out of your classroom corners, unpack boxes, and get your room all set for a new class of kiddos! If you’ve been following my blog posts and tuned in to my Extreme Classroom Makeovers (part 1 and part 2), you know that I’m no stranger to "beginning of school craziness" when it comes to room setup and decor.

Over the past three years, I moved three times: one grade each year. I started with second graders as a new hire, the next year I switched from second to third, and then last year from third to fourth. Each year I tailored my decor to a new theme that correlated to our curricular content. (Yes, it was an exhausting whirlwind, but it was also a lot of fun!)

This year I’m parked firmly in fourth grade (LOVE fourth grade!), and this gives me the opportunity to tweak, add to, and omit items to improve our classroom environment. Check out my top three classroom setup tweaks for 2014 and a sneak peek at new retro road trip items that I’m adding to last year’s decor!

Meaningful Interactive Bulletin Boards

1) We don’t have much student-level bulletin board space in our room, but one of my goals is to make the two spaces we do have meaningful and interactive for the students. This year, I’ve turned one of those bulletin boards into a United States cross-country road trip tracker (say that five times fast!). Every time we study or read about a region, state, city, or landmark, we will mark it on our map with the goal of improving our everyday map skills and to track our learning progress!

2) You might remember a couple of my earlier posts, "Create a Green Screen" and one about Geronimo Stilton that focused on using green screen technology in the classroom. This process was so simple, fun, and impactful for the students, that I see infinite possibilities and want to make it a staple in my classroom. The bulletin board in my room that’s at the most student-friendly level will be left blank, with only a blue fabric background, which is perfect for green screen recording. When not in use for videos, I’ll pop up this 3-D vintage car with a few pushpins, and then quickly take them down when it’s time for the cameras to roll!

3) As part of our executive functioning classroom setup, different areas of the room are designated for different subjects. Students know to look, reference, and find materials pertaining to that subject in those specific areas in the classroom. This year, I’m posting Common Core State Standards (and other standards) focused on each week in those areas. See a few examples from my reading, writing, and science/social studies spaces to post standards, vocabulary, and more!


Switching Things Up

For the first time ever, I’m moving my U-shaped group table to the back area of my classroom where my library is housed. This area is rarely used because the whole class cannot fit for story time, and due to low visibility from other areas of the classroom, is often a trouble-spot for off-task behavior. With my small groups now meeting in this area, it will be much more quiet (away from windows facing the playground), I can see the entire room, and it’s near my teacher office for quick access to supplies and student files. Best of all? It MAJORLY freed up space in the rest of the classroom. My room now looks nearly twice as large and has much more open space for team collaboration, station work, and more!


Designated Teacher Space

I’m a firm believer in dedicating as much space as possible to student use in the classroom. I’ve totally removed my behemoth of a teacher desk, and rely only on my U-shaped table for small group and 1:1 conferring, as well as a smaller table next to our Promethean board to house my laptop (connected to board), and school supplies, paper organizers, etc. Since the past few years have been chaotic due to my changing grade levels and decor, I haven’t been able to clean out and organize my teacher office in three years. It totally turned into a junkyard dumping ground! Also, my efforts to allot part of my office space for student activities resulted in behavior problems because of the chaos and my lack of visibility into the office from the outside classroom space. This year, I’m reclaiming my office and making better use of my small teacher table next to our Promethean board. Check out the transformation and how I’m maximizing the functionality of these spaces!!





See highlights of my "Retro Road Trip" classroom below! 

New Vintage-Inspired Items for 2014

I’ve had fun this summer raiding Hobby Lobby and Goodwill clearance sections to add to my "Retro Road Trip" decor! So far, I’ve scored BIG TIME. Many of the authentic vintage signs I wanted last year are now at 80 percent off, and so I felt like I was practically stealing them as I loaded my cart up and hauled them to my vehicle. Take a peek at the revved up loot I’ll be adding this year to my decor! 

What have you added, omitted, tweaked, and improved in your classroom this year?!?! I can’t wait for you to share. Check out my previous Extreme Classroom Make-over post series from last year below:



Thanks for reading, and see you next week!

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