When reading Mike’s blog entry “I Lost my Pencil” I was struck with how I have struggled with the same dilemma this year. Coming from a Kindergarten class I was comfortable being a “Materials Manager” for the classroom. All the materials were shared and they were intentionally presented in an inviting way to encourage use, conversation, and expression. There was time in our day to return all the materials, and to do so as a whole class.
In my current grade 5/6 classroom, I started the year with a materials centre. This was set up with a few shelves to hold pencils, erasers, rulers, scissors, glue sticks, and markers, etc. I was surprised to discover that within a few weeks the items were no longer accessible for the whole class. I would find rulers twisted and bent on the floor. Pencils left on shelves and also dropped to the floor. The scissors had scattered as well.
I think my plan for the new school year is to be more explicit with the care of our class materials. In order for students to be interested in maintaining a materials centre, more time will have to be provided. Although I may model care for materials, I need to be more explicit in my modelling and give the time during our day to make it a priority. I also plan on acknowledging the students who maintain the materials. Mike has suggested in his blog that each group of students has a materials manager that looks after a kit. I may look for volunteers or rotate students in a group to work together to maintain the class materials centre. The care for classroom materials is connected to character trait education. It can also extend to care of the school and the community.