Advice on designing and setting up your classroom
A look at the different aspects of setting up a classroom and the important things to consider.
There are many things to consider when deciding on your classroom design; you need to think about your furniture layout, your role play areas, your bulletin boards and your classroom decoration.
1- Furniture layout
Probably one of the most important thing to work out in the design of your classroom is they layout of your furniture. Starting with the tables and chairs, you will need to have decided on your work groups and made sure your tables accommodate these groups. Having your groups sit together will help your planning and when teaching differentiated concepts.
Once you have decided on your table layout check there is sufficient space between the tables. Children will push their chairs far back and it will cause problems if the chairs do not have enough space.
Tables and chairs aren't the only thing to consider when deciding on furniture, you will have bookcases and possibly even a whole book corner, you will probably have other objects to consider as well. You might have an iPad stand, storage cupboards, carpet area and subject stations. All of these need to be carefully laid out before the children get into the room.
Keep in mind that you will need enough space for the children and yourself to get around the classroom easily.
2- Role play areas
Depending on the age you teach, you may well have a role play area in your classroom, this should ideally be connected to your class topic but doesn't have to be. Select a space for your role play that is visible from the majority of the room, yet not too obstructive. You do not want the focus on the role play area when trying to keep the children's attention on other learning.
3- Bulletin boards
Your Bulletin boards may well be directed by your school, you might need to have particular subject boards. However, if you are given freedom to choose your own boards, you can plan these out to meet your class needs. There are different types of Bulletin boards to consider: Interactive, working walls, celebratory, learning aids and decorative. You can also have boards which are a combination of these.
Boards which require participation are great for learning.you can you mini white boards stuck to the wall for children to answer questions, you can supply post its to be added to the display for children's ideas, comments and answers. Using flaps and secret pockets that hide and reveal answers to questions posed on your interactive board are also good.
Working walls are great for reminding the children about the topics you are working on. A good way to do working walls are if you use anchor charts, you can pin them to the board after lesson. If you do not have a lot of room you could take a picture of the chart and then put the picture onto the display. These remind children the topics they are working on and also gives them support if they get stuck.
You can use celebratory displays to show off the work your children have completed in class. You can display particular learning or achievements your class have made. It is even nice just to have a board with a picture of each of your kids and something to celebrate about them underneath.
Using your boards to remind children of spelling facts, multiplication or particular dates in history are all good ideas for learning aids. You can make the reminders stuck to the board or create pockets that individual prompt cards can be placed into. Encourage the children to use the display during independent work.
Don't think that decorative boards have no educational use. Getting the children excited and continuing their interest in a topic is important to their learning. Boards which are decorative and fun to look at can be important when fostering excitement in your class.
All of the above types of boards can be combined to create interesting and useful boards. For example you might have a board that shows children how to use dictionaries to improve their work, which centres around a great piece of work from your class.
4- Classroom decoration
However you choose to decorate your classroom is up to you. You might want to give your class a theme and have everything based on that theme. If you choose to do this there are many places to get inspiration and resources for your decoration. If you want to just make the class appealing without a theme you can do this too. Selecting boards, signs and decorations that all point towards your ideal classroom will make your classroom a happier place to be, for your students and yourself. Some areas to remember when deciding on classroom decoration:
- Tray labels
- Binder spines
- Display boards / borders
- Classroom signs
- Name tags
- Class area notices
- Welcome signs
- Door decoration
However you decide to arrange and decorate your classroom, remember you will be spending the most amount of time there so make it a place you like to be!
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