July 08th, 2014
Teachers are prepared by their own experiences as young students and through their college careers to decorate their classrooms. This seems especially important for kindergarten teachers. They often represent their students’ formal introduction to school, and they want their rooms to be colorful and welcoming. Teachers spend a lot of money and time purchasing posters and borders, laminating them, and hanging it all up. In the end, however, a classroom focused on children’s original work and specific learning displays with less-cluttered walls is likely to help them learn better than a traditionally-decorated traditionally decorated classroom.
Teachers generally enjoy decorating their rooms and putting up posters that they believe will encourage their student's learning. However, Kaye Burnet of the Pittsburgh National Public Radio station WESA reported in June 2014 about a recent study by Carnegie Mellon University that demonstrates that young students learn more in uncluttered classrooms. The study measured the retention of six science lessons presented to 24 kindergarten students by testing them about what they learned before and after the lessons. Students in the bare classroom got 55 percent of the questions correct compared to 45 percent in the more-decorated classroom. Students in the more-decorated room also spent 38.6 percent of their time off-task, but just 28.4 percent were off-task in the sparser classroom. Associate professor of psychology at CMU Anna Fisher, the study’s lead author, does not recommend taking everything off your walls. Instead, consider that your decorations can stimulate as well as distract kindergarten students.
Create a large designated space for students’ original work to hang. This creates a sense of pride in completion and accomplishment. You might also hang up dictated stories or stories students write out, complete with incorrect and inventive spelling. Hang up a piece of laminated construction paper with paperclips at the top for each student you have so you can quickly change out writing and art projects without using staples. Mrs. Kilburn's Kiddos', a second grade second-grade teacher's blog, offers the idea of creating "clipboards" by cutting "black poster board in 1/2 to make it look like a clip board. She "super glued tacks to clothespins and then covered them with washi tape" to create a writing display wall for her classroom. This idea is adaptable to a kindergarten room.
Montessori teachers have many fewer posters and decorations on the walls. What little art is up is student-created. You are not likely to find bright colors or cartoon characters. The colors are soft and neutral, and teachers also decorate with natural lighting. Plants may be present in the room to encourage students to care for another living thing. The goal of decoration is to promote concentration and peace. If you opt for this type of room decoration, put up pictures of art and children from around the world, a world map, museum posters or landscapes.
Reference Posters and Themes
Select the most essential learning posters or decorations for your classroom, and tie them in with a theme. Some teachers choose a particular animal or landscape as their classroom theme. Most decorations follow the same color scheme and include the same elements. For example, in a classroom with a giraffe theme, the wall calendar, number line and alphabet may be printed with a few giraffes on them. Avoid too many inspirational posters or quotations, and reduce the visual stimulation your children receive to help them concentrate on their lessons. Key reference posters should be easy to find when students need help with their work, and they shouldn't have to vie for attention from another poster or bulletin board with less relevant material. Create anchor charts in no more than two colors with your students instead of purchasing them from a store, and change them out as students master the lessons on each poster.
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