So after staring at the walls for a while and then spending another while looking at the new charts waiting for space, I realized I needed a way to decide what gets the prime spots on the wall space near our gathering area, what would stay up but get moved, and what would need to be put away for now. I came up with 3 categories to use for sorting, and some questions to help me think through what would be done with each pile.
High Priority Charts
What do we use every day? How are these things used--do the kids just need to be able to see it? refer to it? reach it (to write on, etc.)? This stuff needs a spot that can stay the same all year, and if the kids need to interact with it, it needs to be hung low. Examples include our calendar and number chart, as well as our word wall and ABC chart.
Which charts are from current studies? These also get prime consideration. They need to be front and center, and are often left on the chart tablets we use on our easel throughout the course of the study. That way we can easily add to it or make changes without having to take it up and down off the wall; however, I need to make sure there is space available to hang them as they are finished--in a spot easy to see and refer to during teaching times.
Not Current, But Still Referred to
Which charts were created during our most recent studies? Are they still needed? These probably stay up--maybe off to the side a bit, but still in a spot that is easy for the kids to see and for me to refer to when revisiting lessons, concepts, etc. One exception is if they are for short term, specific studies that we are not likely to use again for a while. One example was the chart we created when learning how writers choose and polish a piece to share during writing celebrations. This chart will be used again, but until it's close to time for our next celebration, it can be hung in an out of the way spot or stored.
Are there any charts that, while not recent, are ones that we continue to use a lot? What about concepts or skills that I know we need to keep working at--that I'm still revisiting and reteaching on a regular basis? This is where I have to be careful--it seems that almost everything fits into this category! But if I work at it, I can narrow it quite a bit. These charts stay near our gathering area, but are moved to the edges--close enough to be used as reminders, but not front and center. And some of them still need to go, as there just isn't room for everything. Sometimes I store them on the back side of our easel in the gathering area; I can pull them out as needed but don't have to give up wall space.
Not Really Needed (for now, at least)
Are there charts that represent teaching/learning that are still needed, but maybe not for a while? This would include things like the chart from a short unit of study we did on informational text writing. I know that we are going to revisit this genre and will expand on our learning; however, it won't be for a while. I can take this chart down until we are ready to focus on that type of writing again. Until then, it can be moved to another part of the room or stored.
What about the charts that we truly don't need anymore? Are there some that are still up even though the kids have taken on the skills/concepts on the charts? Sometimes I forget to look for the stuff we can take down because we don't need it on the walls anymore--because it's in our heads...it has become stuff we do automatically. These charts can definitely be stored. I have to remember that being put away does not mean gone forever--I can pull out the charts whenever we need them.
I'd love to hear from others on this--how do you decide?