September 03, 2014

Classroom Organization: Critically Reassessing Classroom Walls

Your classroom walls act as an incredibly important support tool for Grade 4-8 learners.  Use of walls are a permanent (yet flexible) strategy to keep important learning at forefront of children's minds.  If classroom walls are considered a learning support tool then it's important to look critically at every item posted. 

What classroom walls should be used for:
  • anchor charts created with children
  • success criteria created with children
  • word wall with authentic words taken from children's writing
  • vocabulary
  • modelled or shared writing or reading response examples created during lessons/with the class
  • sample matching so children can compare the quality of their work to other work samples
  • children's work/portfolios as examples of what the above charts 'look like'
  • personal reading and writing goals
  • class' learning goal
  • classroom behaviour expectations

Classroom walls should generally not be used for commercially produced products (excluding items like: borders, lettering, name tags) as they take up valuable wall space.  If all of the suggestions listed above were posted on the walls, there would be no room left for commercially produced products.  Commercially produced products which should be taken down and replaced with co-created (teacher and children created) products include:

  • alphabets demonstrating cursive writing
  • posters displaying grammar, punctuation and spelling rules/definitions
  • examples of writing genres/forms (e.g. parts of a letter)
  • inspirational posters
  • large clip art (e.g. large cartoon children/trees/theme pictures) only if there is space
  • word wall words
  • vocabulary words
If you are used the look of commercially produced products, don't worry, you are not alone.  Any withdrawal symptoms you may experience from replacing these with co-created learning supports will be alleviated as soon as you witness the benefits for learners.  Besides, look at all the money you will save!!!

Ask one of your colleagues to 'walk the walls' of your room and point out ANY commercially produced products.  Critically assess each product (with or without your colleague) and re-assess the value as a learning support.

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