Decorating a high school classroom

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by GatorGal, Jun 13, 2007.

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  1. GatorGal

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    As a new teacher envisioning my first classroom next year, I'm a little stuck. I've gone to 2 local teacher stores in my city, and almost everything they sell is for an elementary classroom. There are some things that can be applicable in a secondary setting, but they are few and far between. I really don't need the alphabet posted, you know? :D

    I'm interested in buying inspirational posters, and I'd even like to do a bulletin board if I can figure out how to make one and attach it to a cement wall.

    Sooo, all you high school (and m.s.) teachers, where do you buy your classroom decorations, and what do you buy?
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I have a friend who decorated a wall of her classroom with old Playbill covers... I'm not sure where she got all of them. (Broadway is close by, but expensive!!!)

    I go for the Argus posters in the summer when they're buy 2, get 1 free.

    I also hesitate to use "mathy" posters-- they sometimes contain the info I teach. It's one less thing to be concerned about when I'm giving a test.
     
  4. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Okay, I'm probably going to get flamed for this, but I'm being honest.

    I teach high school English, and I decorate my room with Simpsons posters. Many are from the series that allude to great works of art-- Bart and the Creation, Lisa and The Scream, etc. I also have a big poster of Bart's chalkboard sayings, Homer saying "D'OH" with a little poster I made beside it about the year that "D'OH" made it in to the Oxford English Dictionary, and lots of little posters that I made with quotes from the Simpsons that make allusions (historical, literary, whatever). But I'm a HUGE Simpsons' fan. It suits my personality.

    When I switched schools and districts last year, I was nervous about putting Bart up because some people have a real bias against him, so I planned to decorate my room in college posters and pennants. I gathered lots of materials. Once I realized that my new admin would be okay with Bart, then I donated the college stuff to the librarian.
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I'm in need of good decorating tips, so I'll be following this thread closely!

    Last year (my first year), I decorated my walls with an Italian flag (I teach Latin... it was the closest I could find) and lots of Latin posters.

    I go to Amazon.com for the posters. They have lots of subject-specific posters which I like. I've gotten ones with an illustrated history of the Roman empire, landscape pictures of Italy and Greece, high quality maps, family trees of the gods....

    Don't be afraid to look at elementary supplies. Those posters about What is a Noun? are kind of silly for high schoolers, but many of your
    high schoolers will struggle with these most basic grammar concepts. As a foreign language teacher, I find that most of my time is spent teaching about English rather than about Latin. My students, many of whom are extremely bright and studious, have never heard of an indirect object and don't know how to use apostrophes. Don't even get me started on pronouns!

    I've seen other English teachers at my school do a Word Wall which is up throughout the year. The teachers or students periodically add new vocab words to the wall as appropriate.

    Another thing you could do is collect old calendars and cut off the calendar part, just leaving the picture part. Lots of them have inspirational or funny sayings. The downside to this is that they're usually pretty small.

    I hope this helps!
     
  6. kdw1913

    kdw1913 Companion

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    I'm planning on doing a movie/hollywood theme and I found a lot of decor at a party supply store. The also had things for patriotic, luau, rock-n-roll, disco, casino, country, and others. Look at www.partycity.com
     
  7. GatorGal

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    Hmm...I hadn't thought about using a theme. That might be a cute idea, especially if I end up getting the freshmen.

    Thanks for the tip about Amazon, I'll have to search for some good posters.

    I was told by another teacher at the school that we aren't allowed to put things on more than 20% of the walls, and you can't hang anything from the ceiling (fire code). I'm going to double check on that...I don't want my classroom to be 80% drab!! :p
     
  8. Lyquidphyre

    Lyquidphyre Comrade

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    I took my TExES test in a HS english classroom and one thing I loved was she had students paint the ceiling "tiles" that represented different authors or stories.

    I bet you could get old playbills on ebay or thrift stores instead of buying them new.
     
  9. toff

    toff Rookie

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    This is true in Florida!
     
  10. snickydog

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    I teach 8th grade science, and on one of my bulletin boards I put up posters about upcoming events at our science museum, and ways to apply what we were learning in class (how is chemistry used in our lives). You might need to create some of the materials, but that way you can make sure they're meaningful for your kids!
     
  11. Edelweiss

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    I was thinking about hanging movie posters with their corresponding book jackets. For example, an Apocalypse Now poster with the book jacket from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and an O Brother, Where Art Thou poster with the jacket from Homer's The Odyssey.
     
  12. paperheart

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    some ideas:
    --my 7th graders (math) like when I write posters of example problems on chart paper (which I then laminate for future use). They say they find it helpful. Maybe you could do that for some helpful reminders about genre, author information, writing concepts etc. I usually use crayola markers to make them colorful.
    --get some magazines with awesome photos (national geographic etc. and tear out the cool photos.
    --my students loved artwork by Salvador Dali, picasso etc. anything that was abstract or an illusion was popular.
    --They enjoyed holiday-themed items. They were disappointed when they saw some thanksgiving items I never put up (I used to teach elementary and didn't think they'd go for it)
    --post vocabulary words, defintions, examples of common SAT words.
    --allow students to bring in photographs to display of friends, family etc. a lot of my students did this on their binders prehaps having a bulletin board would be fun.
    --get free posters from government agencies (anti-drug etc.)
    --my students liked my realistic looking fake yellow daisies which I kept in a cute jar
    --posters re: encouragement and motivation
    --word walls
    --use construction or police area tape to delineate an area of the room that will later be used to display their work.
    --the students liked a little framed picture of a happy face with the word smile that a colleague had (she made it). They appreciated it and it did make them smile.
    --quotes kids might like
    --travel posters (perhaps from a travel agent) (perhaps related to some books you'll read during the year)

    good luck!!
     
  13. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Paperheart, you are right that the kids still very much enjoy holiday decorations in the classroom. Of course, in our conservative area, we can't do the whole Halloween thing (even though Christmas is accepted -- that's a whole other thread...), but I put up "fall" decorations.

    Believe it or not, my kids also still love coloring books. I bought some earlier this year to fill some time on one of those activity days where we only had kids in class for 25 minutes or whatever. They fell all over them and BEGGED me to display them! LOL! For the rest of the year, every now and then, I would have a kid come grab a coloring book when he/she finished an assignment early. I displayed the work whenever I could.
     
  14. hescollin

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    Plants. Some easy to grow plants are Peace Lily, Philodendrom, Spider Plants, Wandering Jew, Phthoes Ivy. Plants will help make your room healthy.
     
  15. AHB

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    I'll be watching this thread closely too. It has been a few years since I've been in 6th grade and I want to inspire my kids to greatness! I know decorating is a powerful place to start.
     
  16. Brendan

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    Make sure to include a few posters with your rules, policies, etc. I usallly have all my expectations, grading policies, proper heading, etc. on my walls.

    You could also put up a few posters with how to take notes, the writing process, reading comprhension, the difference between mood and theme, etc.
     
  17. GatorGal

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    I LOVE all of these responses! I knew you all would have fantastic ideas. :love:

    You know, I honestly didn't think you could use word walls for high schoolers; but the more I am learning, the more I find out that it is a very popular addition to a secondary classroom.

    Hescollin-are those plants pretty hearty? I have a knack for killing every plant I own.

    Edelweiss-that's a great idea to pair up the movie posters to the book jackets. I'll definitely have to order some off Amazon. Do you think I could buy the book jackets there as well?

    Brendan-as far as posting rules and policies, do you usually just print them off your computer, or handwrite them on a large poster board? Also, do schools usually have laminators big enough to use on large posterboards?

    Thank you all again, I'm loving the ideas!
     
  18. hescollin

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    These are the only plants that I can grow inside. They are the heartest plants that I know of. I love a Poinsetta at Christmas time. I take it home over the holidays and it dies, but I love the extra bright color for a few weeks. It is that special gift that I give myself for a few weeks of enjoyment.

    We can put a large posterboard through our laminator. Run it very slow.
     
  19. deserttrumpet

    deserttrumpet Comrade

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    I "inherited" a bunch of posters when I was assigned my room. However, ways that I've increased desirable posters included asking other teachers (you would be surprised what they have hiding in a closet), getting free posters from events and nonprofit organizations (this is easy for nature themed posters). My favorite way of decorating, though, is let the kids do the work. Poster boards worth extra credit and other art projects look wonderful. It is also amazing how often kids will stop to point out their work to another classmate.
     
  20. ancientcivteach

    ancientcivteach Habitué

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    Save a big space for displaying student work - they love to see "their" stuff on the walls. You could have them do something the first day for display - draw themselves as english students, create a "read poster" or a book cover for their favorite book - "bumper stickers" for reading or writing, Acrostics with their names, I am poems . . . the list goes on and on.

    It's not that I don't think there should be some teacher touches, but I'm a huge fan of letting the kids decorate the room with their work. I have a bullitein board behind my desk that is "all about me" and a place to staple my memos/reminders, but the rest of the room is about the kids and what we do together.

    That being said, I'd like to second BandnerdTX's suggestion of coloring books. Go to Dover publications - you'll be suprised how many "academic" coloring books there are! A really nice one is "scenes from Shakespeare". There are many science/history ones as well.
     
  21. Edelweiss

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    Thanks so much for telling us about Dover...they're fantastic! I especially love the Beowulf coloring book!

    ETA:
    Gatorgal, I'm not sure where to purchase book jackets. You might have to buy the whole book or "borrow" the jackets from your personal library. ;)
     
  22. Mamacita

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    Movie posters and book jackets all over the walls, and a themed bulletin board that changed every two weeks. Immensely large "Billy Madison" poster, complete with quips, directly behind my desk.

    Also, a rubber chicken hanging over my desk (with a long-stemmed silk rose in its a s s), a disco ball on my desk, a huge stereo system covering a fourth of one wall, a static ball on the short bookcase, and about a million mounted-and-laminated quotations wherever there was a blank space.

    I miss my old classroom sometimes. . . .
     
  23. GatorGal

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    Good to note.




    Mamacita, I'm a little curious about the rubber chicken... :D
     
  24. FutureFLTeacher

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    Many great ideas in this thread thus far! I too will be following it closely as I'd like my classroom to be someplace interesting in terms of ambiance...nothing is quite as boring as plain old concrete walls..:)
     
  25. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    If it isn't a privacy issue, which in our school it wouldn't be, why not just run a big black paper down the wall and have the students write something on it at the beginning of the year. Then as the year heats up, use it to display info and demos for what you are currently teaching. You could also write jokes, ponder questions, etc on seasonal cut outs and post them in a "Loving Life" area.
     
  26. Kmdraeger

    Kmdraeger New Member

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    cutNglue I love your black paper idea! I think I will create a graffiti bulletin board (with explicit guidelines) that the students can decorate with graffiti. I can change it out periodically to give them a fresh surface. I may even add themes to guide them in their efforts.
     
  27. bandnerdtx

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    CutNGlue, your post reminded me of something I saw at yearbook camp many moons ago...

    The teacher had several sheets of butcher paper on the wall with big survey questions at the top: Favorite Summer Movie/Best Vacation Spot/Favorite Class/Song That Will Always Remind You of Summer 07/etc... As the kids came in, they circled around the room and wrote their responses, then they had a little class discussion/get to know you time.

    If you were a math teacher, you could do some charts/graphs with the information. An English teacher could have the kids write about the typical X high school student. A history teacher could do some compare/contrast with their lifestyles vs. the lifestyle of people from different eras. Science teachers... I've got nothing! LOL.

    Just a thought.
     
  28. tsrmom

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    What subject do you teach? I once read about a teacher who decorated his entire wall with Time Magazine covers--so cool.

    I teach English. I make my own "inspirational posters" by going to some of my favorite quote websites and type them in various fonts and sizes. I then mount and laminate them on poster-sized colored construction paper. I change the posters each month or each unit.

    I cover my bulletin boards in fabric. Lasts longer and looks nice all year long.

    What they enjoy most, however, is my computer desktop background. I find the craziest picture I can find online (appropriate, of course) and apply it as background. The first thing they do every Monday is look at my computer. Oftentimes, it becomes a creative writing prompt.
     
  29. GatorGal

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    How cute!

    I'm beginning to think I need to get a move on finding nice quotations. We may have to start a new thread on everyone's favorites...:D
     
  30. DustyPete

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    Comfort Items

    One thing not to overlook are things that would give your classroom a warmer, more inviting feeling. In my classroom I like to use plants in nice pots and lamps that give a nice soft light whenever I use the projector.

    Also I'd recommend fine art with the flavor of your subject. For instance, Math = abstract, Science = nature and landscape, English = classical, etc. Students appreciate a classroom that reminds them of the comfort of a living room.
     
  31. Fresita

    Fresita New Member

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    i was reading this thread and i liked what i read. i wanted to get some input on decorating as well. im a high school math teacher. i have been teaching for 2 years. and my class room still looks as if it was my first day. i really dont have much decorations, the room looks plain and its dull. what kind of decorations can i use to solve my problem?

    thanks
     
  32. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I remember one of my math classrooms having a bunch of large portraits of famous mathematicians. You could start there.
     
  33. LadyBard

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    Thanks for this thread !!

    I hope to be working in a High School this year,
    and these are some great ideas.
     
  34. IowaLA

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    I will be teaching MS reading this year (my first year!). My classroom has a large bulletin board along one wall. I plan to divide it into how many sections I will have (I believe 5 or 6 right now) and then label the board "My Space" and let the kids of each section decorate how they like (school appropriate of course). They can also post pictures, poems, jokes, etc. I ran this idea past my soon to be freshman in high school who promptly said "Cool! I wish we would have had that!"

    Now if I could only figure out the rest of my room!
     
  35. kdw1913

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    I think that's an awesome idea!!!
     
  36. Weazy

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    Decorating classroom

    Last year was my first year teaching, and I was looking for ways to decorate my classroom. I found that the "teacher" stores basically provided items for elementary and middle schools. Even though I did find a few grammar posters, I was disappointed that I couldn't find anything else for my high school English classroom. I searched the internet and found Teacher's Discovery. They have turned out to be a wonderful resource. You can shop online, or they will send you a catalogue. They have a variety of posters--grammar, literary, inspirational, and most of them are already laminated! Take a quick look and see what you think. I too, am getting ready to update my decorations for this year. I think it's great to have a decorated room. I know the kids like it because they often mentioned how drab the other classrooms were. Let me know what you think! Good Luck!
     
  37. IowaLA

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    Just got back from garage sales where I found a few things to decorate my room with.

    Right now is prime garage sale season around here so I thought I would pass along this tip!
     
  38. Weazy

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    Decorating classroom

    I have read many good ideas from this discussion. I don't agree with the idea of not decorating at all. I think if the students see that I'm taking an interest in what they're learning, it sends a positive message. I know the posters I display of the novels and short stories we will be reading create anticipation. However, I don't do all the decorating. My classroom is large enough that I leave ample room for their name tags--a first day activity which they create name tags without their names. They must use symbols, colors, obljects, pictures, etc., that represent themselves. (I start them out by providing a variety of materials) I encourage them to think beyond football player, cheerleader, and focus on who they are when they are away from their friends; quiet, reflective, bookworm. Once they have created their nametags, each student explains his/hers to the class. This lets me hear their verbal skills and see their personalities. I can tell who will probably be the quiet students and who will be the performers. I also like to display their literary posters and their writings just to name a few other things. I have to use some purchased items because I don't have enough hours in the day to "create" my room. My main focus is on teaching; yet I want my room to be pleasant for my students.
     
  39. Alaskanteach

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    I don't "decorate" a whole lot, but I do change out my bulletin board (mostly writing, grammar, or holiday/seasonal stuff) and then I put up posters about the different books we will be covering. I did an excellent bulletin board for renaissance/Romeo/Juliet last year that the kids loved. I find lots of high school level stuff at Teacher's Discovery. They have an excellent color catalog, too.
     
  40. Weazy

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    Decorating classroom

    I agree, Teacher's Discovery is an excellent resource for high school supplies. They have a great variety of items to choose from--literary, inspirational, grammar; there is something to fit just about every need for your classroom. I use many of the inspirational posters as journal entries for my students.
     
  41. GatorGal

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    Good to know, I'm going to look that up right now.:)
     
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