I have been waiting over two years for this moment—I finally get to implement C.I.A. in my own classroom! Since I have been modifying C.I.A. for small groups of students in Title and Special Education, I am familiar with the basics, but actually setting up my classroom in a way that will facilitate the best learning for my 3rd graders has been a fun challenge.
I have been extremely lucky in book donations from my school’s reading coach and other teachers to set up a classroom library. I am in a portable this year. I wanted some white board space, a corner, and some wall space for my meeting area. I also wanted most of my classroom library to be around this meeting area. I had to compromise with some books since the only computer jack was next to my meeting area as well (causing the projector, student computers, and document camera to take up space.) So I divided my library between fiction and non-fiction, keeping fiction by my meeting area since that was where our first genres of study would be, and putting non-fiction and resource materials in the writing, word work, and small group space. I also plan to keep back some of my bins at first, to give me a little more control over student genre choice and allow them to practice what we learn together during independent reading.
Since my books were generous donations, not all were leveled (we use a guided reading AA-Z leveling system). I didn’t have time to research each title and I like to give students more emphasis on reading based on topic of interest than only choosing from a just right bin (especially those who are assessed above grade level but may still need guidance to do the deeper thinking work, sustain over a longer text, or are obsessed with ‘getting through’ a level, appropriately or not). I split the library into genre and topic (both in fiction and non-fiction, some with levels on the cover) and a span of leveled book bins D through S/T (fiction). I put colored stickers (to match bin labels) on the non-leveled topic and genre books to help with library management and return procedures. I also put genres on each bin, with sub-genre and fiction/non-fiction as well. When I came across books with a double, I put those aside for a partner ‘pair reading’ bin.
My meeting space is a large open area. I am hoping for a rug to come my way and “cozy it up.” We also have a variety of stools and chairs (meant for independent reading choices) stacked in this space, my easel, teacher chair, a lamp, a basket with my teaching tools, posted United States map, and the always useful Scholastic cardboard book display- also donated and much ‘loved’ – for book studies, support materials, and read aloud selections.
We will be starting our year learning routines with a Patricia Polacco book study. In this way we will practice the rug routines, chart building, and community expectations for learners. I like to do a study like this with repeated characters (in this case, I chose books about Patricia’s personal memories, especially centered on her family and struggles with learning disabilities) so we can build our knowledge over time and have opportunity to add to story element charts, rather than starting over each read aloud (I am also hoping to reduce work of remembering new basic ideas such as character names and descriptions for each book and allow deeper thoughts–like inferring character traits and motivation– and eventually touch on universal themes). By using Patricia Polacco’s personal memories, we can also use these texts as models for our personal narrative writing at the beginning of the year. (I like anything that is used for more than one purpose!) As we progress through our author study, we will introduce some parts of C.I.A. expectations (limited partner stems to practice conversation) and review general literary vocabulary to be ready to begin Poppy. We will also be doing some whole group conversation practice to work on sticking with a topic.
I have posted my beautiful C.I.A. quadrant posters (so glad I didn’t have to make them myself again!) above the library, and once we have introduced the genre poster (again, thank you Read Side by Side for making those), it will also go above the library. Along that wall is my pocket chart for Turn and Talk Stems, a mini-pocket chart to post vocabulary words (so we can sort and categorize as ideas are repeated), and some space for charts we will create together. I am going to use the Turn and Talk sentence strips in a pocket chart (I’m using a border organizer box to keep track of them. I recycled a bunch of borders; face it– I’m not going to do holiday bulletin boards). Also in this area are my recipe boxes for conference and assessment notes on each student. I have always wanted to try this idea, since many other organizational strategies over the years have not been quite what I was looking for. I also have a recipe box for math. I may carry a clipboard with label sheets and jot my notes on the label sheet, then transfer that to the recipe card. The logistics are a work in progress.
I am so excited for this year to begin!