Are you making the best of your classroom walls? Learn how you can enhance learning in the classroom with these simple methods to spruce up your classroom walls!
Assuming that you don’t teach your class underneath trees (although that sounds amazing), your classroom probably has four walls around your students during class hours.
A well-designed classroom, from the way the desks are arranged to what is put up on the walls, makes a huge difference in the amount of learning that takes place. A safe and inviting space will improve both learning and behaviour, while bare cement walls can prove detrimental.
Numerous studies have shown that effectively utilising classroom space can increase productivity by as much as 16%. Many teaching methods use this as the forefront of their pedagogy, such as the Montessori method.
Classroom Walls – The ‘Third Teacher’
Reggio Emilia, an educational philosophy developed in Italy after World War II, describes the classroom as the ‘Third Teacher’ alongside adults and other students.
That’s a lot of importance to give to four walls! But think about it – your children spend at least 6 hours a day within the confines of those walls. Why not make use of it?
Designing Your Classroom Walls
Is there a right or wrong way to design your classroom walls? Here are a few things to consider:
1. Define the Purpose
What information do you want your children to take from the wall? Do you want them to learn new words or concepts? Or do you want to encourage student participation by displaying great work? Thinking about the purpose will help you design and utilise every available space in your classroom.
The purpose will be different in each class and in every grade. For example, development at the kindergarten level needs constant reinforcement of topics. Primary grades can include more student participation such as projects and research.
2. Location, Location, Location!
Once you figure out the purpose of each wall, finding the right locations will become easier. For instance, if you expect students to interact with certain material, then make sure it’s at their eye level. If you’re displaying your students’ work, then you can place it in a way that’s visible to everyone.
It’s a good idea to dedicate different areas of the wall to certain themes. For example, one corner of the classroom can be your ‘reading wall’, where students can put up book reviews and recommendations.
If space permits, arrange a reading corner next to your reading wall.
Make sure you use all available space. Hang classroom materials behind the door. You can also use cupboard doors for posters and students’ artwork.
3. Classroom Walls – Content & Curation
Divide your content into a few categories in order to make it easier to curate. Some examples are-
i. Students’ Work
Make sure to reward good work by displaying it prominently in your classroom. Your kids will be inspired to perform better and will make sure to complete projects if it could get them up on the wall. But don’t display grades which might demoralize struggling students.
ii. Students’ Corner
Spark your students’ creativity by giving them a space to put up whatever they want to. Whatever it is, try not to curate or limit the amount of work they want to display. Encourage them to talk about it before putting it on the board.
iii. Curriculum-Based Displays
Dedicate a wall to reinforce the concepts that are being discussed in class. For instance, in our KG curriculum (LiLBI), each theme comes with a word list that can be put up on the theme wall. The theme wall is redone every six weeks, at the beginning of a new theme. Posters relating to the theme are displayed along with artwork done by the students during class. Make sure to include posters that reinforce the theme rather than distract from it. You can also display anchor charts, graphic organizers and diagrams.
iv. Permanent Displays
There will be some items that you want year-round. Dedicate the top of your classroom to permanent displays. Depending on the grade you teach, think about the key concepts you want your children to master by the end of the year. Display that prominently and do not take it down. For example, in kindergarten classrooms, the alphabet can be displayed throughout the year.
v. Inspirational Posters
Display aspirational posters that reflect diversity and inclusion. While a poster of some random motivational saying might look great, you can display the story of woman scientist or an underdog achiever instead. It will make a world of difference to your kids.
How much is too much for your classroom walls?
It’s common knowledge that students have short attention spans. So won’t the colourful walls prove to be a distraction?
A study was done to find the answer to this question. Researchers performed simple memory and attention tests on two groups of children. One group was made to sit in a room with bare walls and the other was made to sit in a room with walls that overflowed with colourful material. The outcome is predictable – The students in the bare room performed much better on the tests.
While the results of the study might not paint a full picture of effective classroom design, it is worth keeping in mind that too much visual stimuli will be overwhelming for a lot of kids.
The most important thing to remember here is that the walls do not have to look aesthetically pleasing. Education is messy and the walls can reflect that!
Also check out: How To Set Up Your Classroom Library
Involve to Inspire
If you’re very particular about what goes on the walls but fail to call attention to it, then it could be a waste of time and effort. Be sure to involve your students in the setting up of the classroom space so that they feel motivated to take care of it throughout the year.
With very young children, you can play games like ‘I-Spy’ to find items around the classroom. With older children, create activities that they can complete on the walls, like this list of interactive math displays. It will be a good change from the monotonous daily grind and will automatically increase student participation.
Designing your classroom might seem like a lot of work, but the effort is definitely worth the reward. Not only will colourful walls improve learning, but it will also make your kids want to come to class every day.
If you’re finding it hard to come up with creative ideas, Pinterest.com is a veritable goldmine of resources.
So what’s on your classroom walls? We’d love to know! Share your pictures and experiences with us in the comments below.
Looking for more guidance? We’re happy to help!
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