Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Back to School: What a Wonderful Time of the Year!

Back to School: What a Wonderful Time of the Year!
Wendy Sheets, Intermediate/Middle School Literacy Collaborative Trainer

As teachers and students across the country make their way back to school, there is excitement and anticipation in the air! Teachers have thoughtfully planned and prepared for students’ learning as they’ve designed and set up classrooms. Students don new shoes and backpacks, and the smell of fresh crayons and markers wafts through the hallways. The hope of a new beginning puts a twinkle in every eye as children are greeted with smiles and promises of a great new school year. What an important time!

I commend all teachers for the efforts they put forth in assuring that classroom environments are welcoming places most conducive to student learning. As you make your way back to school this year, I want to wish you all the very best, and I’d like to share some photos of classrooms that our literacy coaches have been working to organize.

Check out the classroom library below, shared by Megan Witucky, from Zanesville, Ohio:


  This classroom library belongs to Michelle Rodgers, from Warren, Ohio:



Angie Carpenter’s students in Marion are already making good use of their classroom library.


Tami Loughman has organized books by genres, topics, authors, and series from which her students may choose:


Teachers have been thoughtful in planning for whole-group meeting areas to conduct Interactive Read Alouds and minilessons. Some of those areas are seen above, doubling as classroom library areas. Others are shown below.

Deb Nagel has created a circle, positioning her students so that all voices may be heard as they build conversation with one another.



Megan Witucky has made space at the front of her classroom for her 3rd graders to gather (on the right):

Angie Carpenter from Marion, Ohio shares her classroom library/whole-group meeting area:

During these first weeks of school, students will be planting seeds in their writer's notebooks. Here are some examples from Tami Loughman's class in Newark, Ohio:




Many teachers choose to utilize a writing process workboard in order to manage and monitor their students as they create writing pieces. Here are a few different examples from Megan Witucky and Tami Loughman:




Students keep all of their literacy materials organized in one place so they are easily accessible. Deb and Tami have provided magazine files in which students house their materials.



We see evidence of minilessons taking place in various classrooms.

Michelle Rodgers engages her students in Warren, Ohio in a minilesson as a part of The First 20 Days of the Reading Workshop.

We can see that Tami Loughman is also preparing her students for reading success:


Megan’s minilesson also supports her readers in making good book choices:

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the classrooms of some of our friends. If you’d like to have your photos added so others may also benefit, please send them to me and I’d be happy to add them to our blog:




  1. All of these rooms look so organized and child centered. Do intermediate classrooms need to have a word wall? I did not notice any in these pictures.

    1. Hi Jen, Our intermediate classrooms don't typically display word walls, as most sight words have been mastered by 3rd grade. However, a content area word wall may be an effective strategy for supporting students with content area vocabulary.