Students love to have a place of their own. In an intermediate classroom, I have often struggled to provide a comfortable space for students to use when they need time to themselves, a quiet place to read or just a spot where they can relax (after they finish their work). A reading corner can be this place. It presents a comfortable space for students that can improve motivation and engagement in your classroom.
Choose an area of the classroom where there is enough space to fit an area rug and that does not block any important areas of the class.
Encourage students to bring in books, comics, magazines or other texts, from home that can help to create a reading corner library. This will connect the students (and their interests) to the space and cultivate a meaningful environment to them. Putting posters up around the area can also help to ‘intermediatize’ the area.
Bring in a couple of bean bag chairs or other comfy seating. In comparison to the student chair this, in itself, will peak student interest in using the reading corner.
Reach out to students who you feel would particularly benefit from using this new space. Make an extra effort to have them be some of the first to enjoy the reading corner – it will show them how beneficial it can be and motivate them in the future to finish their work or use it as a quiet place to read.
Tip from a mentor- Collaborate with students to set clear guidelines about how the reading corner will be used. Some guiding principles might include;
• you must be done your work to use it.
• you must be quiet enough to read or allow others to read when on the carpet.
• no food or drink
• student ideas about how to improve the reading corner are encouraged!
While a carpeted reading corner might seem like a primary idea at first, it can be a powerful way to personalize your classroom with a sought-after new environment. Intermediate students will be motivated by the novelty and comfort of reading (or just relaxing) in their own “hang out” space. By stepping outside the traditional box of classroom spatial planning, you too, can cultivate a meaningful area for student use.
What other features of an intermediate reading corner would be effective in making it personal and meaningful to students? How might this reading corner be used to ‘differentiate’ the learning environment for students with special needs?
During Neilʼs 10 years of teaching experience, he has taught in London, England; Ontario; public and private schools; elementary and secondary; junior; intermediate; core french; developmental skills; and junior gifted (grades 4,5,6). He is a Reading Specialist that has been incorporating technology in his practice consistently throughout his career. Neil has recently published his first book entitled “Ignite. Incite. Inspire.” – Examining 21st Century Issues in Education, which is a collection of teaching articles and posts written from January to December 2011.