Middle School Classroom Decorating

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

  1. msmath

    msmath Rookie

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    Aug 7, 2008

    ITA with everything you said. Also, like you said, if they start daydreaming or looking around the room, I'd rather them focus on reading a math poster or dazing at the place value system. I know the number line in the room really helps with learning operations with integers.
     
  2. msmath

    msmath Rookie

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    Aug 7, 2008

    I think balance is key here. I wouldn't want a cluttered room or a bare room. I like to decorate with student work, charts of important concepts we are learning, math posters, and a few motivational/study skills/etc posters. Too much or nothing is an extreme, and I don't think either would benefit the students.
     
  3. 3aliyah

    3aliyah Rookie

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    Aug 8, 2008

    I like the idea of motivational posters. I'm a science teacher and so I think I'll do motivational posters and some cool science posters. :)
     
  4. DallasTeacher

    DallasTeacher Companion

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    Aug 9, 2008

    I'm really shocked by several of the comments. What about word walls -- doesn't anyone use them? Scientific brain research shows that learning occurs best in blue and green settings, certainly not dull, white institutional walls. I can't imagine a sub coming into my classroom and moving items around. I might possible see that for a long term assignment but certainly not for a day or two. My students have routines down pat and know where things are and what they can and can't do. There are consequences for doing otherwise. They also know that I will be told by someone if they do anything wrong while a sub is in the room. I work with very disadvantaged students -- 99.9% low income, virtually all minority. Last year we read "The Jungle Book" and my classroom was one large jungle scene -- complete with safari jeep, etc. We had Webkinz jungle animals, the walls were painted green with paper vines climbing up the walls and through the ceiling tiles. We hung leaves from the vines as students discovered new prefixes, roots and suffixes. At the end of the year my students will choose the book and theme for the next year. This year -- Around the World in 80 Days -- and a travel theme.

    I view the classroom as an extension of my personality as I am in it all day. Students also hang-out in my room before school and after school for various programs. They dust, clean, etc. to keep the room looking nice. They very much have ownership of the classroom and bring items to display. I would say that approximately 5% of our population live in the shelter and those students appreciate the atmosphere even more as their living conditions are not the best.

    Student work is displayed -- all and they know it. If students know their work will be available for gallery walks or viewing via video conferencing, they will raise their level of work. Grades are not posted on the front of displayed work, but show sloppy work of a student once and they learn. I work with students involved in gangs, etc. and completely opposite my upbringing and experiences. It all starts with the relationship one has with their students. I feel strongly that learning will not occur until strong, positive relationships are built. Students are given my cell phone number on the first day and told to use it. They can't say homework wasn't understood. They also know that I don't live attached to my phone and that I don't return calls after 9:00 unless it is an actually emergency. In my seven years of teaching, I've only received a couple of calls after 9:00 and both were defintely emergencies.

    I've normally been a lurker, but the comments of some so disturbed me that I had to post. The days of teachers standing and lecturing for the entire period are gone. I'm over 40 and wasn't taught that way and don't teach in that manner. Students are experts are reading us and they know who genuinely cares and who's just going through the motions.
     
  5. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    Aug 10, 2008

    I'm lost-- which comments?

    I have very interactive word walls, but didn't mention them. The original question was about themes and decor.
     
  6. msmath

    msmath Rookie

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    Aug 10, 2008

    I mentioned word walls. The only comments I disagreed completely with were the sub JLW or something..
     
  7. Exclaimation Po

    Exclaimation Po Habitué

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    Aug 10, 2008

    The district I'm in requires us to post student work along with the standard it goes with.

    I make my classroom a positive environment. I figure that if my students are going to be off task and/or not paying attention to me, then they should be looking at positive statements. I really feel that most of my students are not told that they are good people or are intelligent by their parents. I do also put up content on my walls, but not much. I really don't like having to take it down during testing.
     
  8. Historyteaching

    Historyteaching Cohort

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    Aug 10, 2008

    I have word wall only because my practicuum professor told me too..I can't stand it. I teach 9th/10th graders.
    Two of my bb's are interactive, not including the WW. One has the path of the president..how one can get to being a president and those under him, also how many votes we have in KY. One has a static decor of american heroes. The one behind my desk has things for me, some schedule information, a picture a kid drew last year. I have personal artifacts in 'my area' of my desk. I can't STAND a bare room it makes me nervous. My room is bright, cheery, and smells good. If I have things out and my class is maintained I be durned if a substitute is going to waltz in and remove it all. I was a sub for over 4 years..you learn to control a classroom and most students even those that have 'can't handle change issues' know about the room and are used to it regardless. I lock up my desk and filing cabinet when I'm not going to be there. I trust no one on that end. Not that I have things to hide..but I do have things I want to keep. I have plaques on my windows that relate to USA and teacher quotes. My personality is bright and up-beat, my room reflects. Our P said to decorate them, don't make them drab, please put up content items, but we are also allowed to have some other things, that's a given. We spend alot of time in those rooms and should be comfortable in them.
    I could say more, but its 5am and I just got up so myself and my dog could visit the restroom (she went outside....I didn't)
     
  9. DallasTeacher

    DallasTeacher Companion

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    Aug 10, 2008

    Hadn't wanted to specfically single folks out but will mention the sub who upon walking into a room moved chairs and other items considered extra. Also several mentioned white walls. I did read every single posting and that's why I just made the broad sweeping "comments" wording.

    I'm curious why you don't like having a word wall. Last year with a jungle theme mine was on bananas and had monkeys on it. They can be fun and my students certainly need them for reference. When it comes to testing, we just put the roll on the floor, raise it to the ceiling, staple it and then cut it off. Takes a matter of about 30 minutes to completely paper the walls and about 30 minutes to paper the ceiling because they always seem to be decorated. The kids love doing it. When the first series of tests are over, we take it down, roll it up, and then use it over for the next round of testing.
     
  10. FSUalum

    FSUalum Rookie

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    Aug 10, 2008

    I am a strong believer in the importance of classroom environment. I want my students to be comfortable in my room and ready to learn--you know, less amygdala, more hippocampus and cortex.

    I also teach in a mostly minority and low socio-economic middle school (we were only about 59% free and reduced last year, but that will increase greatly next year due to the economy down here), and my room is far from bare. I moved classrooms this year and just finished painting my new room blue (a light blue). It makes such a difference.

    Another teacher on my team did the same (and the other two will be doing it over breaks during the year). My principal loves the color so much that he wants as many rooms as possible blue. (His plan was to move me every year, so I'd keep painting...hah...hah.)

    I do keep a bulletin board filled with pictures of past students. I take a lot of pictures every year because I do the 8th Grade Promotion Slide Show (25 minutes of pictures before the ceremony begins--the kids always love this, and most end up all teary-eyed at the end of it). I don't think this detracts at all from what I do. In fact, I think it helps, especially considering my population. Those pictures of so-and-so from the neighborhood all smiling and happy in my class earn me some buy-in from the new kids each year. I always get "you taught ____?" "You know _____? That's my cousin/nephew/niece/neighbor/brother/sister!" Then, they'll come back in a day or so with messages from so-and-so, etc. Sadly, I will sometimes hear things that aren't so good (drugs, gangs, arrests).

    I'm switching to gifted social studies this year (same school and population, new program), but the last 4 years, I taught regular and advanced 8th grade U.S. History. I had a fair amount of posters up around the room: laminated Constitution/Bill of Rights/Gettysburg Address, President Posters, Time-line, Territorial Expansion, etc. Every year, when I take a group to DC (a mix of my advanced and regular; many parents/grandparents really scrape and save for this trip), the kids help me pick out new additions for the room.

    By my desk, I have a bookshelf that holds gifts from students (framed pictures, stuff animals, mugs), miniature monuments (White House, Wash. Monument, etc.), and FSU "stuff." I get plenty of crap from my little Gators, Canes and Buckeyes about FSU, and I dish it out as well. It does build community, though.

    I also put up the "artwork" I'm given by my students throughout the year along the top of my whiteboard. Even 8th graders still draw pictures for the teacher. The girls draw the colorful, cutesy stuff, and the boys draw stick-figure cartoons and manga, generally. Sometimes, they'll run in with tests from other classes, and I'll put those up, especially if they brought up their grades in those classes. (As I get more, I put some of the older pieces in a file folder to make room for the new.) I want my room to be as much theirs as it is mine.

    Many of my students go home to some less-than-ideal situations. Multi-family homes (as in more than one family living there), poverty, etc. Right now, many families are losing jobs, homes, vehicles, etc. It's tough.

    When they are at school, I'd like them exposed to something more positive and aesthetically pleasing. There is far too much "ugly and stark" in this world already.

    (Note: when I taught high school, I also had a blue room and pictures, etc. Before, after, even in-between classes, there were always about 10-15 extras in there. I used to joke that they weren't visiting me, but the Blue Room. Funny, they never contradicted me on that assertion...)
     
  11. msmath

    msmath Rookie

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    Aug 10, 2008

    "I also put up the "artwork" I'm given by my students throughout the year along the top of my whiteboard. Even 8th graders still draw pictures for the teacher. The girls draw the colorful, cutesy stuff, and the boys draw stick-figure cartoons and manga, generally. Sometimes, they'll run in with tests from other classes, and I'll put those up, especially if they brought up their grades in those classes. (As I get more, I put some of the older pieces in a file folder to make room for the new.) I want my room to be as much theirs as it is mine. "

    I also always put up the pictures they give me. I teach 7th, and yes they love to draw and see their art hung up. I have kids write their names or my name in cool graffiti type writing, cutesy stuff, doodles, and some really creative drawings. I have little notes or cards that I'll hang too. I agree 100% with your post!! It was nice to read. :)

    Oh, my walls are also light blue too.
     
  12. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    Aug 11, 2008

    I also put up the artwork they give me. They really love to see it up!
     
  13. Exclaimation Po

    Exclaimation Po Habitué

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    Aug 11, 2008

    I also put up artwork students give me. I occasionally let them color pages I download from the internet. I try to find coloring pages that have to do with what we're studying or any holiday that's approaching. You'd be amazed how excited 8th graders get at the possibility of coloring!!
     
  14. kstar03

    kstar03 Companion

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    Aug 11, 2008

    Can someone explain what word walls are?
     
  15. msmath

    msmath Rookie

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    Aug 11, 2008

    LOL Yes, middle school kids love doing projects with markers/crayons/etc.

    Word walls are a spot where you put up voc words. Some people just put up the word. Some people put up the word and then you flip it and you have the definition. Some people put up Frayer models that the students make for each voc word. It's a way for students to always see the voc words, and they can look at the definition if needed. Some people at my school make a design out of it. I know one person has a tree (the words are on the leaves), one person uses a bubblegum machine.
     
  16. kstar03

    kstar03 Companion

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    Aug 11, 2008

    Thanks so much!!!
     
  17. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Aug 11, 2008

    ummm...it doesn't end there. I have a friend who's 28 and has no kids and when she comes over to my house she almost always digs out the kids' coloring books and crayons and colors something. I even have her artwork on the fridge. I love to color with my kids as well.
     
  18. FSUalum

    FSUalum Rookie

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    Aug 11, 2008

    Aren't the blue walls great??

    I'm on a different floor this year (closer to the "action"), and, I swear, the blue room is a people magnet--only today I had teachers and admin coming in to visit...and then coming to admire the room, then returning again later. They're all planning to paint their rooms/offices now. :)

    re: coloring

    They LOVE it. It's really insane. Our math teacher on my team has coloring sheets photocopied for the kids to color after they finish with a test. They then make her display their work on a wall (these are our high achievers, low achievers, ESE, Gifted, all of them...they ALL love it).
     
  19. msmath

    msmath Rookie

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    Aug 11, 2008

    I think all the rooms in our school are blue. Actually, some were just painted a light pink I believe, which was also nice. Not pink, pink, but it was a nice color.
     
  20. Exclaimation Po

    Exclaimation Po Habitué

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    Aug 11, 2008

    I looooove to color with my students! I generally pick coloring pages that I like for the students to color, just in case I have time to color! :D

    AND... all you people talking about blue rooms are making me want to decorate with blue butcher paper! Every room I've taught in has been wallpapered, so no painting. But I can cover it up with paper!
     
  21. villageteacher

    villageteacher Rookie

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    Aug 14, 2008

    I still use a lot of color! My students have told me my classroom is their favorite. I think about myself as an adult. I hate boring white rooms. I don't like being in rooms that don't reflect the spirit of the class. So, yeah, I have pillows on my floor, books, a coffee table. I want my students to be comfortable in learning. I teach language arts, so I have posters up regarding parts of speech, writing process, etc. I have motivational posters up. I leave blank walls to fill up with student work.
     
  22. forchange

    forchange Rookie

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    Aug 14, 2008

    I agree with everything that most people are saying. I think 7th and 8th graders don't want a "baby" room, but they do want a room that reflects what their learning and their hard work.

    My rule for posting work is that you have to get an A or B. I almost hate days after quizzes, because I know that unpacking time will take longer because they will be crowded around the bulletin boards. It's very exciting for our community when the A ad B quizzes are so many that they bleed off of the bulletin board and onto the walls!

    One other thing that I do, in addition to lots of what has been mentioned, is to view my room as one big advertisement for books. I read in one book or another that we need to think about "selling" reading to kids and it struck a cord with me. After all, they are consummate consumers that are bombarded with advertisements all the time, so I have color photocopies of book covers on brightly colored paper laminated in some of the high space that I couldn't reach without a ladder. I also have book stands to display books in my class library.

    I've said it on another thread and I'll say it again here -- I think we need to be really, really careful about the stereotypes we perpetuate about urban/low income/ minority students, their families, and their home lives. I appreciate what so many people on this thread have said, that urban students need the same kind of stimulating and comfortable classroom as any other student and I agree wholeheartedly.
     
  23. Miss_E

    Miss_E New Member

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    Jul 8, 2011

    I worked with innercity kids from Chicago for the last two years. It was my experience that the kids loved my decorated room ( I change things out by holiday/season), having pictures of themselves posted, and in general a cheery room. While occasional I would have a problem like them stealing the sticky hearts off my windows, I used these as teaching moments to share respect for property. They knew that I cared and responded positively.
     

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