Is your classroom a stimulating learning environment??

I often use Twitter to find out what’s going on in education across the world, as I’m fascinated in learning about new ideas, techniques and products even though I no longer teach my own classes.

One of the most enthusiastic people I’ve met on Twitter is @NancyTeaches, she is full of energy and great ideas, as well as providing links to really good sources of information. Here’s a site recommended by @NancyTeaches:

Pier 13 – Beth Newingham\’s third grade classroom

It is more than just a website for a class – it has videos, resources, practical ideas and demonstrates fully just how engaging displays can be for learners of all ages. When I was teaching (not that long ago really – as recently as last year!), classroom displays were a constant source of frustration to me. Let me explain – when I had my own classroom, I used to spend hours creating stimulating resources and displays for my students, utilising just about anything I (as well as family & friends) had to hand. Over the last 5-10 years, I’ve been a senior leader in various secondary schools and not had the luxury of my own classroom and here’s where the frustration kicks in…… I have worked alongside staff who really didn’t value the difference that exciting displays can make on a student’s learning. I have often been asked to observe lessons in grey, untidy and dreary rooms, where there was little evidence of student work, subject content or even sometimes any colour!

Well if you look at Pier 13′s classroom, there’s no doubt that most students would choose that learning environment over a tired, untidy and uncared for room – what do you think?

Educational psychologists have found that environment can have a large impact on children’s learning. There are classrooms that alienate children and those that engage them, and much research shows that children who feel engaged in their classroom are more receptive. Teachernet

For further information on the Teachernet article:

Teachernet:? Article on the Importance of Classroom Displays

Here’s some examples of classroom displays I found when browsing the net – I know what you’re thinking; that they mainly appear to be Primary classrooms – and you would be right! Sometimes, in secondary schools, the importance of stimulating classroom displays is over-looked.

Classroom Displays at Sparklebox.co.uk

I think one of my favourite memories of teaching is when I first started out in an inner city secondary school – my classroom was a converted out-building that was due for demolition. I took that as an opportunity to ‘do what I liked’ and with a supportive headteacher and my enthusiastic form group, we went to work…. working for four solid days over the autumn half term. Using various donations of paint and other materials from families & friends, we managed to turn our clapped-out classroom into a mini galaxy, with super nova explosions and stars floating within our “universe”. I wish now that I’d kept photos of the results, which were pretty impressive and fairly dramatic – so much so that the room was filmed for an LEA DVD on classroom displays for science! (which I didn’t ever see but heard from others that the classroom did look fab on film.)

So what’s the point?

The benefits to the hardworking form group: they had a fantastic environment to enjoy every day, which they had created and had ownership of.

The benefits to the rest of my students: they were taught in a stimulating and engaging environment where their work was on display for others to see.

and the benefits for me? Not only did I get to teach every day in the magnificent classroom (much to the jealously of some of my colleagues) but the students were much more engaged in their learning and also keen to keep it tidy!

So my advice is to use the few remaining weeks of the summer holiday you have left to think about your classroom and what kind of environment YOU and YOUR students would like to work in during 2010 – 11….then get to work! Let us know how you get on and it would be lovely to see any pictures you take

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2 responses to “Is your classroom a stimulating learning environment??

  1. Hi, good food for thought here. You might also like the Classroom Displays Flickr group where we have over 3500 images of classrooms and displays from all over the world. I also have a series of post on the Classroom Displays Blog with Alternatives to Sparklebox. UK educators have learned the hard way to be wary of sites like Sparklebox. Read my post & follow the link if you are unsure why.

  2. Welcome Linda – your comments are more than welcome on my blog. Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts.

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