Middle School Classroom Decorating

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by NUMB3RSFAN, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. NUMB3RSFAN

    NUMB3RSFAN Rookie

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    Jun 22, 2008

    I am a new 6th grade math teacher in a middle school setting. I am looking for advice on decorating my classroom this fall. I was wondering how you decorate your classrooms in a middle/junior high school setting. Do you still do themes like they do in elementary school or do you start limiting the decorations since they are getting older?

    Thanks!
     
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  3. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    You can still do a theme, it just has to reflect the age you're working with. My theme is "Keepin' it Real". I pull from everyday life create analogies to what we're studying. For example, I have a large map of the city on the wall, with a carteasian plane superimposed over it and fitted exactly with the cross streets that make the "axes" of the "grid" of the street system. When I teach the coordinate plane, we talk about how the street addresses work and then how it's really just like how plotting points work, really that it's the exact same thing, only the street system is plotting houses and businesses, instead of an abstract "point". There are other examples of real life math illustrated all over my classroom. In keeping with the theme, they also have to keep a real life math journal which we talk about once a week. Be creative and stick with their level and you can make a theme really successful.
     
  4. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    My students like helpful posters on the subject matter I teach (math)...They asked me to put up more.

    I have a lot of calendar photos and magazine photos that are interesting (science closeups national geographic)

    quotes

    their own artwork

    They love the "scream" poster for whatever reason and escher's illusionistic art and dali's surrealist art.

    that sort of thing.
     
  5. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Oh, you could have a lot of fun with "Math Art" Escher and Dali are just the start. You could also do the "Math of the World" thing, with examples of math concepts used by current and past civilizations as seen through art and objects created by them.
     
  6. wig

    wig Devotee

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    I steer away from "cutsi". i teach 4 different SS classes and Lit and language arts and religion to 6th grade. So, I tend to go toward a SS theme. I have US History Timelines and Geography posters, etc. But no real theme.
     
  7. slinkytoy

    slinkytoy Rookie

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    Some of the teachers in our school do a theme each year. I just put up things that relate to the subject, and posters and quotes that I know the students will find interesting. As the year progresses, I put student work up. My office has items and pictures from all around the world. My students love to look at my office and ask me questions about different items and pictures.
     
  8. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I'm not a "theme" kind of person. I just try to put up something I can live with all year!

    Here's my room from last year.

    My 2007-2008 Classroom
     
  9. NUMB3RSFAN

    NUMB3RSFAN Rookie

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    Jun 23, 2008

    Thank you for all of the ideas! I start teaching summer school on 7/21 so I was going to start putting everything together in the afternoons when the kids leave. I can't wait!
     
  10. muinteoir

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    I didn't do themes. I put up a fabric background on my bulletin boards, put a coordinating border around them, and covered them with
    1. student work
    2. content specific posters
    3. motivational posters
     
  11. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    I'm teaching middle and high school this year. Last year, I taught middle school and didn't have a theme. This year, my homeroom is in the kitchen (not an industrial one, just a regular ol' kitchen that looks like one in your house) so I may have a minor underlying cooking theme like titling the bulletin board "What is Cooking?"
     
  12. chemteach55

    chemteach55 Connoisseur

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    I do not do a "theme" but I love frogs and cats and tend to buy posters and other materials with them on it. Since I am moving schools this year, it will be the 1st time in 5 years that I am in my own classroom. (Last year I taught in 3 classrooms and had I stayed at my old school, I would have been in 4 classrooms to teach 5 classes.)
     
  13. Tenured

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    I'll probably take flack for this, but I don't do themes, unless you call school sports a theme.

    I coach 3 sports and I put awards, team pictures, trophies, team shirts, etc up all over the room. I suppose it could be a "theme" and I could tie it into geography as "human interaction" but simple fact is, I'm recruiting middleschoolers for when they get into highschool
     
  14. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I was told by someone far more studied than I that putting up anything that is not directly related to student learning is a waste. They will be distracted by the stuff on your walls, they might as well be learning from it.

    As a result I may tweak what I've done the last few years. That said, up to this point I've had 3 boards. My AVID board had class pictures from my AVID class. My Social Studies board had whatever I felt like putting up that quarter and my Mystery College board had ever increasing clues about a college.

    Though I liked that there's no question that the picture board was at times distracting. Honestly, I'm not sure I care because it is a recruiting tool but next year I may use the pictures as a border to the boards instead.
     
  15. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    We're told to make things instructional in nature, and to actually document the use of the material on the posters in the lesson plans. That way we can leave the posters up during testing. I don't think I have anything posted for "cuteness" factor, except the bulletin board I let the kids use to post anything they want to show off. Oh . . . I do have my "Save Time. See it my way." poster. LOL
     
  16. ancientcivteach

    ancientcivteach Habitué

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    rofl! hmmnnn, bet that would fit on a car magnet . . .
     
  17. Ms. Geography

    Ms. Geography Comrade

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  18. Dynamite Boys

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    Jul 2, 2008

    I also teach 6th grade math in a middle school setting - last year was my first year so I pretty much went with what I had or what family got me to start the year. I had two ideas that seemed to flow throughout the room. One was M and M's - it was quite cute. My mom lived near an M and M store so I had all sorts of cute decorations on my desk. It was easy to know what was mine!!! Loved it. The other thing I had in my room was a corner full of Boston Red Sox posters. I actually couldn't believe what a connection with math and the students these posters had - the kids started following baseball and keeping track of stats! It was a great discussion to start a class once a week! (Even those kids who loved the Yankees could always find a "stat" to bring in showing how much better the Yankees were!) I thought that was a great way to relate math to the real world. Even those students who weren't big fans of sports would find some fun in our 10 minutes of Red Sox stats on Fridays!

    6th graders still like having decorations - but it is important to not have it so overwhelming or distracting that they are reading posters and not paying attention to what you are saying!

    Good luck - you'll have an amazing year! It's tons of fun!
     
  19. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    Jul 3, 2008

    Remember to keep it tasteful. When I visited the middle school I passed a room that looked like a poster factory exploded in it. Every space was taken up with a poster. It was too much.
    I have a Hawaiian theme. I got some cheap tablecloths for my tables, put raffia table skirts around the tables and my desk. I have a couple of leis around the class. The bulletin board is covered with blue cloth with a wave boarder. I have hibiscus flowers and palm tree cutouts on the corners of doors, bulletin boards, and cabinets where they would be out of the way. I don't think it's too much. I decorated after school at the end of the year and my kids liked it once I was done.
     
  20. touchinglives

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    cheeryteacher,

    Good point on the tasteful part. One of the classes in my building last year was just like that - wall to wall - NO empty space - filled with posters. It was nuts. However, I felt like my room was "too much" as well. Now, I'll have a new room and I want it to be nice/cheerful but I don't know what to cut!! Maybe I'll switch out throughout the year? Most of my posters are related to the subject I teach, so I want to use all of them!

    One thing that does look nice is to group posters by subject and then put border around the whole grouping.

    Middle school students enjoy decorations-they're just big kids! I do a little of the cute/fun type decorating as well as educational. I've often heard the kids comment on how "boring" some of their other classroom decor is so they do notice, and I think they appreciate it.
     
  21. ~~Pam~~

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    Jul 4, 2008

    I have been teaching 7th grade math most recently and did not use themes in decorating. I put up information posters and a lot of student work. At the end of each of my units students had performance tasks (multi-step real world based) and I would post them all around the room with my commentary. We also posted student made posters on topics (i.e. integers, geometry, and algebra)and they were used frequently by students. Students LOVE seeing their work posted and tends to really make them work harder to have something they are proud of up on the wall for all to see!
     
  22. MrL

    MrL Companion

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    I'm a middle school science teacher, and my theme was Extinct Animals. I teach a whole elective class called Jurassic Park, after all. I made a lot of the posters myself using awesome National Geographic spreads (Dawn of Mammals, Sea Monsters, and Bizarre Dinosaurs issues especially), a scissors, tape, and the library laminator. I'm only allowed to use up 25% of the walls due to county fire codes, but I have 8 large cabinets in my room at about 4 ft up all over with posters. I also had a huge spread one over the cabinets in the front. I got board one day during testing and counted about 300 different species represented on my walls.

    I also had some generic motivational posters, my NASA/APOD pictures, and a single Transformers movie poster, for two reasons:

    1) I run the robotics club. It's why I also had a cardboard cutout of the x-10.
    2) Having Optimus Prime staring at me back all day keeps me honest and fair with the kids.
     
  23. Lareigna

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    I've noticed that a lot of MS teachers do not decorate their room. I'm on a team of 4 and I was the only one to decorate. I did not have a theme, I just wanted to add color to the gray room. I put a cheap table cloth from kmart on my desk to match the season. I put up a boarder on my white boards and bulletin boards related to the time of year. The posters I have up are all subject related and motivational. The only other things I have up are student work and art work. They love to see their stuff up on the wall.
     
  24. MrL

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    Lareigna, you mean a totally bare classroom? I'd go barking spare nutters!
     
  25. Lareigna

    Lareigna Companion

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    MrL, I totally agree with you. I needed some color in my room and something of interest on the walls, and I always have student work posted.
     
  26. chemteach55

    chemteach55 Connoisseur

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    I am in high school and decorate my room. I have 5 bulletin boards in my room for next year. That is not really my choice but I will put stuff up on all of them. I made one into a large calendar. I will use 3 of the to post work (each class will have a board) and the last will be an Important Information/Study Skills Board. I hate blank boring white walls.
     
  27. JLW

    JLW Rookie

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    I'd strip it bare.

    Clutter drives me insane, and the more visual activity going on the more opportunities students have for distraction. I can't count the number of classrooms I walk into that look like somebody's attic or multi-family rec room. That kind of personalization is, in my opinion, not professional. Ultimately, while the room is unavoidably an extension of the teachers' personality, too many folks flat out forget that these are public buildings. They do not 'belong' to the teachers.

    I work as a sub in middle schools, and the very first thing I do on walking in is 'harden the room': pick up anything extraneous and put it away or lock it up; I count the students and stack chairs that aren't being used; I take all the markers/chalk/paper/anything grab-able and lock that up too.

    But! I use the boards and easels extensively, and create a temporary environment with the boards; at the end of the day I erase or yank all of it. Therefore, there is a lot of visual activity going on, it's just short-term. I leave nothing up overnight.

    Also, and very few people think of this: the more stuff in the room the harder it is to clean. The maintenance staff are your best friends;and making their lives easier will get you major, big time brownie points.

    Just some thoughts.
     
  28. MrL

    MrL Companion

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    While I agree with JLW about three-dimensional attractive nuisances, I have to have some 2-dimensional customization. In a science class, I cannot understate the utility of having a question about the digestive system or dinosaur-to-bird evolution and saying, "Well, first, let's discuss what that poster says." And I cannot imagine what the kids will feel staring at blank walls all year.
     
  29. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I would NOT be happy is you were my sub and decided to "harden the room". I'm not sure what you'd do with my extra desks. You wouldn't need to move them far because the class numbers can vary from 15 to 32 from class to class.

    My room is decorated, but it's not cluttered. I get compliments on my neat & organized--and FUNCTIONAL--room all the time.
     
  30. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    We're supposed to document the use of our posters in our lesson plans. We use posters all the time during instruction. Plus, I hate staring at completely blank walls. Posters also cut down on the echo in large rooms.

    Last year during testing one of my boys told me that he answered one of the questions by looking at one of my posters. I thought that was interesting because he didn't test with me. "I close my eyes and read the poster in my mind," he told me.
     
  31. NUMB3RSFAN

    NUMB3RSFAN Rookie

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    Thanks for all of the ideas! I'm teaching summer school in my room and have started putting things up in the afternoons.

    I have three bulletin boards in my room. I've set aside one for student work, one for important news and information, and another for math items related to whatever topic we are working on. On the back wall, I've created a fake bulletin board with fabric and border to be used as a Student Center. I'll put the calendar with homework assignments, absentee work folders, and other homework related information on that. On the wall with windows I'm putting two more fake bulletin boards (one on either side of the windows). The first will have our our CHAMPS classroom management system posters and the second will be for a vocab word wall.

    I don't really have a theme or anything, I picked out some generic school related borders and then one math border. Thanks again for all of the ideas and I'll try to post some photos when I'm done!
     
  32. JLW

    JLW Rookie

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    I teach low-income urban; and my opinion reflects this.

    Before this I worked with the utility company, and I've seen how a lot of these kids live: in squalor, filth, and chaos. Not all live like that, but most do. ANY kind of stimulation sets them off; ANY kind of sensory stimulation is like pulling the pin on a grenade. For a lot of the students, simply having a temporary teacher change throws them into emotional conniptions.

    Creating an orderly, clean, controlled room is, in a lot of cases, the only time they get to experience that type of situation; and I've had students tell me they appreciate walking into a structured environment, with desks lined up and no extraneous clutter.

    I don't put up students' work because if you put up one kid's stuff, the others instantly demand to know why theirs isn't displayed too.

    I remove 'creative materials' like chalk and markers, because all they do with them is draw gang signs and write racial epithets. I hold the writing materials, and students use them only with permission.

    As far as moving things around, I put it all back when my assignment is over. But as long as I'm charged with controlling the room, it's my domain, and I do what works for me.
     
  33. paperheart

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    I also teach in a low-income area. Some students live in nasty, nasty situations. That is one reason why I use a lot of decorations. I have math material as well as "happy" pictures, mostly from magazines and an old set of art curriculum posters. I also have a set of yellow daisies I display in a vase.

    I make a big deal about hanging their work. Most of their parents give little regard to their assignments so I honor their efforts by displaying their work. If I can't hang everyone's I explain why I chose the ones I did. (i.e. "While a lot of students did fantastic on the assignment, these students got the hardest problem correct....")

    My students comment that other classes are boring. I hope they are distracted by some of the things on the wall. If they stare at a poster with math information on it they just might learn it. I tend to put the non-subject matter items towards the back of the room so they only see it when they are coming in.
     
  34. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I'm with you paperheart. I hope my kids are distracted by what's on my walls. If they're reading the displays it means they're at least getting a taste of what math is usefull for in the "real" world. Maybe it'll even give them an incentive to actually study it :D
     
  35. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I'm in a low-income school as well, and I don't see our kids being overstimulated by a nice room. They don't tend to steal anything other than Sharpie markers, and I'm allergic to them anyway.
     
  36. JLW

    JLW Rookie

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    You know, I wandered around after my class was over today and looked in various rooms, seeing what things were like, and seeing who was in what room.

    Everyone tries to create a safe, calm oasis for their students; I certainly do. But it's interesting that my concept of safety is sparse but orderly, whereas someone else's idea of safety is posters with bright, upbeat graphics and images on them.

    Fascinating.

    As for math and sciences, I really don't consider, say, a large Table of Elements or a set of useful math information on the wall to be 'decoration', exactly. I guess to me, decoration involves personal likes, which is truly subjective.

    I did stop in a classroom of a friend, a Science 9 guy, and distinctly remembered filling in for him this past year; there was so much stuff on the walls it was difficult to visually pick out the rather large Table, and I had to point it out to several students.

    I also remember learning to go under the lab sinks and cut off the water to the sprayers in the back of the room...:eek:hmy:
     
  37. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Now there's a good idea. :up:

    One of our TEACHERS put a rubber band around the sprayer in the teacher workroom. That was interesting.

    In addition to hiding the Sharpies, we also hide push pins, rubber bands, scissors, and crayons. Twelve year olds and good sense don't always go hand in hand.
     
  38. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I just got back from work (my college job) and I'd have to say 40 year olds and good sense don't always go hand in hand either. There are good things and bad things about non-traditional students......
     
  39. kimberd

    kimberd Rookie

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    I'm with Paperheart on this one. These kids need the visual stimulation that comes with "tasteful" decorating, bright colors, etc. They don't get that at home. They also need to kudos that come with displaying their work. You could do it on a rotational basis, or set a rubrik on the quality required (or grade required) for something to be posted. Doesn't mean the room has to be cluttered, every inch covered with something. But bare white walls don't seem to be very inviting, friendly, and stimulating, which is seems like kids from lower income areas might need at school.

    Now, don't get me wrong. I have seen rooms that are absolutely teeming with personal furniture, posters, nic-nacs, etc., and they are definitely distracting to me, so they probably are to the kids, too.
     
  40. PowerTeacher

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    Aug 3, 2008

    I hand student work a lot as well.

    I have one large bulletin board. The sign on it says "How Do I Do That?" and the bulletin board is mostly occupied by examples of foldables, thinking maps, graphic organizers, labeled illustrations, science journal entries, lab sheets, tables, graphs, and other assignments we will use frequently. All are authored by a student named Joe Cool.

    If a student needs help making something on an assignment their first stop is the BB and the How To samples.
     
  41. msmath

    msmath Rookie

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    Aug 7, 2008

    I teach in a low-income urban school as well, and I disagree with most of what you wrote. My classroom is FILLED with student work, posters, information, etc, and they LOVE it. It's neat and organized - no clutter - but it's not bare. I would hate to work like that and I think my students wouldn't like a classroom to look like that either. They spend the majority of their day there, it should be inviting, engaging, and a happy and pleasant environment. I'm going to bold my comments that I really disagreed with. I have been teaching in NYC for 3 years now. I think the classroom environment
    is very important.


     

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