What did I leave out?
How can the design of a classroom help or hinder learning?
Read Tom Murray's Six Keys to a Classroom Makeover.
At the bottom of the article, there are several links to resources on
classroom design. Choose two of these and write a summary of each (three
Summary #1 Six Keys to a Classroom Makeover
Tom Murray was involved in a webinar with Erin Klein, AJ Juliani, and Ben Gilpin. Their main discussion was on the research of designing a brain friendly learning environment. Their conversation produced six main points.
1) Student Voice is Paramount in the Design Process: The classroom should not be focused solely on the teacher. Ask students how they would like to see the classroom designed. Student voice matters. It gives them ownership of the space.
2) Make Comfort and Flexibility Priorities: A high school superintendent chose to go through the day of a student for two days. He quickly realized that one main distraction was his comfort. It was uncomfortable to sit in a hard chair at a metal desk for 52 minutes at a time for seven hours a day. Considering the students comfort when designing the classroom is beneficial to their learning. Classrooms also need to be flexible to allow for movement and student collaboration.
3) Declutter the Space: Klein says "it’s important to decipher what’s learning information and what’s decoration.” It is important to display information that is relevant to the current study, but many time teachers feel the need to cover every inch of wall space with something. Having too much on the walls is overstimulating and becomes a distraction to students learning.
4) Redesign Doesn't Have to be Costly: "Think creative, not costly." Redesigning (or in our case, designing) a classroom can be done in a cost effective way. A little bit of paint, and a few good finds at yards sales or from family and friends who are cleaning out can go a long way in the classroom.
5) Consider Color, Gender, and Lighting in the Design Process: Colors should be warm and calming and appropriate for both genders. Natural lighting should be used as often as is possible.
6) It's More Than Your Four Walls: Gilpin says that design should be considered throughout the school building, starting at the front door. A well designed school and classrooms will enhance student learning.
Summary #2 3 Classroom Design Tips that Make a Big Impact
Erin Klein says to minimize patterns and choose colors carefully, bring in nature to create a comfortable space, and provide flexible seating arrangements. At the beginning of the school year, her classroom may not look as though she is ready to welcome a new set of students. She purposely leaves some details to be decided and designed by the students. This gives them a voice in their classroom, and they take pride in their contributions to the design. Colors and decorative designs for the classroom are important. Simple patterns are better than busy patterns that can be distracting to students. " Keeping distractions to a minimum is key — especially when displaying content for bulletin boards." Using plants throughout the room is a great way to bring nature. When conditions do not allow for live plants, artificial plants can be used. Klein says that students begin to wiggle, rock in their seat, and even fall out of their chairs due to them being uncomfortable sitting there for so many hours a day. She created more comfortable seating and maximized space in the classroom for students to collaborate easily.
Summary #3 Are Teachers Distracting Students With Bad Interior Design?
A study "on classroom design from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University
suggests that all that educational flair may not be all that great for
getting kids to learn." Six new lessons were taught to 24 kindergarteners over a two week period. " Half the lessons were taught in a highly decorated classroom
environment, with posters and art all over the walls, and the other half
were taught in a classroom with no decoration." Students tested better in the classroom with no decorations. Students in the highly decorated classroom spent more time off task. Many times the items displayed on walls in the classroom do not match the current lesson which can be distracting to students. Researchers are not suggesting a classroom with absolutely no decorations, but rather for teachers to carefully consider their design to enhance student learning and not distract from it.