How will you set up a class meeting area in your classroom? It is incredibly important to create a space in your classroom that is specifically designed for read alouds, whole group instruction, and class meetings. There are so many different ideas on Pinterest and educational blogs. It can be overwhelming! Read below to get helpful tips and ideas for how to set up a whole group instruction area in your classroom.
What is Whole Group Instruction?
Whole group instruction is direct, teacher-led instruction with minimal differentiation. It is also commonly referred to as whole class instruction.
Is Whole Group Instruction Effective?
Yes, whole group instruction is an effective teaching method. It should be paired with differentiated, small group instruction.
Why is Whole Group Instruction Important?
Whole group instruction is important for several reasons. First, it gives students the opportunity to learn from one another. Through class discussions, students can exchange and discuss ideas collaboratively. This helps students think about topics in a different way. Second, it gives the teacher access to all of the students at once. This ensures they all get the same messaging. This is very helpful when introducing a new topic, concept, or skill. Third, it helps create a class community. When students come together as a whole class, it helps students feel like they are part of something larger than themselves. Along with this, they learn how to take turns, show respect to a speaker, and listen with purpose.
When to Use Whole Group Instruction
Whole group instruction is great for introducing a new topic, concept, or skill. In a workshop model, teachers often use it as a way to introduce and close a lesson.
What is a Whole Group Instruction Area?
The whole group instruction area is the hub of the classroom. It is where you and your students will come together as a community to learn, share, problem solve, and celebrate success. The meeting area will consume a large fraction of the square footage of your classroom, so it is important that it is designed to be a multi-functional space.
What is the Purpose of a Whole Class Meeting Area?
This area will be a multi-purpose space, so do not hesitate to allot as much square footage as possible. Below are just some of the uses for the meeting area. Think about each as well as additional ways you may use a large space in your classroom.
- read aloud
- morning meeting
- whole class instruction
- hosting visitors and guest speakers
- welcoming guest readers
- literature discussions
- conflict resolution gatherings
- a place for students to read lying down
- an area for working on STEM projects
- building with blocks and Legos
- cooperative learning projects
- playing games
- math workshop activities
How to Set Up Your Whole Group Instruction Area
Below are the 10 steps for setting up your whole group instruction area.
1. Reflect on the Purpose of the Space.
Think about what your purpose is for gathering students together.
2. Take Inventory of the Space
Assess the room for any permanent fixtures (such as outlets or a mounted interactive board ) that will need to be taken into consideration.
3. Consider Your Class Size
Think about the number of students in your class to determine how much area they will need to fit comfortably.
4. Consider Your Grade Level
Similar to thinking about your class size, you’ll want to also consider the typical physical sizes of the students at your grade level to know how much area they will need to fit comfortably.
5. Measure and then Make a Sketch of the Space
Take measurements of your whole group area and then use a pencil and paper (or computer) to make a sketch or model of the space. Start with the larger furniture pieces and then work towards adding the smaller details.
6. List the Supplies and Furnishings You Need
Many teachers include some or all of the following supplies and furnishings:
- chair for the teacher to sit on
- shelf to organize instructional materials
- large area rug
- carpet squares or something to define student spaces
- seating for the students (benches, chairs, etc.)
- easel or whiteboard
- dry erase markers
- chart paper and a place to hang an anchor chart
- sticks with the students’ names written on them to use for calling on children randomly and equitably
7. Gather the Supplies and Furnishings You Need
Gather the supplies and furnishings you already have and then come up with a plan for how you will get the new items. Yard sales, the dollar store, Walmart, Target, and 5 Below are some helpful places to scoop up items.
8. Place the Furniture First
Now it’s time to start placing the furniture! Position everything where it will need to go.
9. Add In Everything Else
Now that your furniture is in place, you can add everything else in.
10. Take Pictures
Taking pictures of the space will help you remember how to set it up next year. It will also help others help you tidy your space because they’ll be able to see where everything goes.
5 Tips for Setting Up Your Whole Group Instruction Area
Below are tips for setting up your whole group instruction area in your classroom.
1. Take Safety Precautions into Account
Make sure the meeting area you select is safe. All surrounding furniture should be secure and not be at risk for tipping if a child leans against it. Shelves should be free of heavy objects that could potentially fall. If the children will be sitting near electrical outlets, you may want to plug them with safety caps. Rugs should not be placed over electrical cords as the friction forms a fire hazard.
2. Look at the Space with Different Lenses
You will use this area for whole group instruction, class meetings, and read alouds. Analyze the space to make sure it fits the needs of all these purposes.
3. Create Storage Space
You’ll want to have all of your teaching materials accessible when leading whole group lessons, class discussions, or reading books aloud to your class. If you are not able to include a built-in shelf or a bookcase in your class meeting area, you could utilize a mobile cart to hold your instructional materials.
Another option is to use a plastic caddy or a tote bag that you can easily move around the classroom. Ideally, it should have pockets for smaller items such as manipulatives, markers, scissors, or anything else you’ll need for modeling activities. It should be large enough to hold teacher guides, lessons plans, printable student pages, and books.
Have your seating area serve double duty by including benches that provide storage. You can purchase sturdy wooden shelves and turn them on their sides to create a bench with compartments underneath. This is a great option as it also provides a work surface for kids sitting on the floor during other points in the day.
Avoid storing items around the group area that children can access and play with when they are in a class meeting. If you have open baskets of math manipulatives nearby, chances are a student will turn them into a distraction.
4. Make the Space Comfortable
Your students will spend a lot of time in this area in your classroom, so you’ll want it to be comfortable. If your school and local fire codes allow it, you can make the area feel more personal by including a couch, pillows, rug, lamps, etc.
5. Purposefully Plan Student Seating
All children should have a clear view of instruction and of the pages of a book being read to the class. This is a community area so the students should also be able to look directly at their peers when they are speaking.
If you have a smaller-sized classroom, you can save space by using tiered seating in your classroom meeting area. This design will allow all children to see the books you read and the lessons you model. Tiered seating can easily be achieved by having some students sitting on chairs and the others sitting on the floor in front of them.
Define personal spaces by using carpet squares, tape, pillows or chairs.
Whole Group Instruction Area Ideas
Below are some whole group instruction ideas from real classrooms that you can use for inspiration.
Get the Free Reading Resource Bundle
In closing, we hope you found this information about setting up a whole group instruction area helpful! The tips and ideas in this post will help you create a space that is conducive to read alouds and whole group instruction. If you haven’t already, we recommend you download this free reading resource bundle. It includes a list of seasonal picture books for each month of the year, blank book lists for you to record your own titles, printable reading logs for your students, and print and go monthly reading challenge charts.