Class is in Session
Many people think about using a Nugget in a playroom or a living room… but what about a classroom? For Ashley Ramirez, a 5th grade teacher with years of experience, it’s a no-brainer to include a Nugget in her classroom set up. Ashley is one of many teachers – including those selected through our The More You Nugget program – who incorporate open-ended play and flexible seating in their learning environments. Read on to get to know the teacher behind @texaslonestarteacher, as well as her tips for adding a Classroom Nugget in 2022!
What drew you to teaching?
I want to be a part of something greater than myself. I want to impact the world in the greatest way possible and I think that’s through children. Every child deserves an equitable education.
What advice would you have for a new teacher getting into teaching?
What I love most about new teachers is they have such an open mind for what it can be, for what education can look like. They should continue to keep that mindset! Stay open minded, continue to push for change and remember your “why”. As a first year teacher, you’re going to encounter challenges and it’s really important to continue to come back to the why and find your people.
How did you first hear about Nugget?
I first heard about it through social media, pictured in someone’s home with their young children, and immediately my teacher brain got to work. Really, my teacher brain never turns off! I see something and I think, “How can I adapt that for my classroom? How would that look for my kids?” I first thought of a reading nook – I teach reading and writing to my students – and that’s how it started out.
So, how do you use the Nugget in your classroom?
There’s such a variety of ways to use it! First and foremost, it is placed in a reading nook area, right by my classroom library, because I want kids to see the library and the Nugget and think “That’s my spot, my reading place.” I’ve also used flexible seating throughout the grades. It’s where students are able to choose where they learn best and where they’d like to sit – sitting at a desk all day isn’t for everyone and people need choice! I love the Nugget because it’s not just serving as a reading nook but also a flexible seating option where they can learn best and soak in more information.
For my students, their favorites are any sort of setups where it allows two to sit on it together. Any time they are reading, working, they love to share ideas. They are such social people, they need a space where others can be around them.
Any advice on using the Nugget in your classroom?
To us, the Nugget is a special space and I want to be able to use it forever, so I set those expectations from day one. We don’t have any food or drink, any sort of pens, pencil, marker, highlighter, near or on the Nugget – we are very aware of those items and the markers are closed when not in use. Because it’s such a popular space for people to work on, we have another rule: we don't run to the Nugget. It’s not going anywhere and everyone will get a moment with the Nugget. It’s all about respecting the Nugget as a whole.
I will say one thing that has not worked for me: our students have snacks every single day, and I make sure that they are not eating there, and especially no open drinks on the Nugget. That’s a big deal for us!
Other than that, it’s a shared space for the students and myself. The Nugget is something they want to continue to use and so they respect it. If you’re thinking wow, my students would never be able to handle something like that – they can! It’s all about setting up expectations from day one.
How do you care for and upkeep the Nugget in your classroom?
My students have leadership roles or class jobs and one of them is the clean up crew; one of the responsibilities is to make sure the Nugget and around it is clear and clean, including checking and monitoring the Nugget. If there happens to be a pen mark, which has happened by accident, they let me know and I spot clean them. Honestly, the covers are really easy to spot clean! I wash and clean the covers as well. Not only are my eyes on it but so are the kids’ – and coming back to the expectations, they really do take care of it.
Any advice for incorporating a Nugget into classrooms during these unprecedented times?
You can create a rotation Nugget schedule where there’s one student only on the Nugget at a time, or you can create a space for one. There are different ways to go about that and how it’s used.
Thank you for your advice and ideas! We love hearing from teachers like you, who can provide real advice for fellow educators.
I haven’t met a student that isn’t a fan of the Nugget. Even at Meet the Teacher Night, it draws the attention of siblings and parents – they all want to try and sit on it, it’s so fun and unique! It ages with you. If I ever changed grade levels again, the Nugget is one of those things that would move with me. It’s a sure thing for all kids and all ages.Thank you for your time and advice, Ashley! You can follow her at @texaslonestarteacher for more classroom ideas.