Friday, June 17, 2016

Decorating Your High School Classroom

As a high school English teacher, here are some of my tips for decorating a secondary classroom. I know some teachers don't like to spend time doing this, but I need to make my space my own. Also, most of my posters and bulletin boards stay up all year (which saves lots of time!). The only one I switch at semester is the big one below. Plus, I LOVE crafty/artsy stuff, so I really enjoy making posters and bulletin boards. 

Emphasize Books!
I encourage reading any chance I get! This year I made an author spotlight board on John Green since students seem to love him. I included a picture of the book cover and a famous quote. The other half is popular dystopian novels such as Uglies and The Maze Runner, but also some classics like 1984, with a brief summary. 

Half way through the year, I decided to track the choice novels my students were reading by class period -- sort of as a competition! Students love seeing the front cover of a book they finished, and it's often a conversation starter among them. 

Pops of color (or other things that match your personality). 
I like bright colors and books and art work, so I have a plethora of these things in my classroom. Hopefully, not only do I feel more comfortable in the space, but my students are stimulated too. I use a variety of coffee mugs to hold scissors, pens, rulers, etc. My pens are connected to those brightly colored flowers, and the wall behind my desk is adorned with a variety of artwork that I (or a my niece) created. 

Student Work or Semester's Essential Question
My first semester curriculum is centered around the question "Who am I?" After each unit, I added student work to the yellow bulletin board above that helped answer that question. (For example: "I am from" poems, tree drawings after reading Speak...)

Make your room comfortable and "home-y."
I provided my own bookcases to shelve my YA lit collection and use crates to hold magazines (I sign up for a bunch of free subscriptions online for random reads: Parenting, Family Circle, Tennis, Motorcycle World, Surf, US Weekly, Self -- Students can read them and they're useful for projects!). I have 5 lamps throughout my room to create some ambient lighting. The rug is a carpet remnant from a few years ago that I edged with chevron duct tape. The tree an balloon/coffee art are past poetry projects my students let me keep and there are Harry Potter quotes in Dollar Store frames. Not pictured: a variety of big pillows my students can sit with on the floor during silent reading time.

Make posters for commonly referenced tasks, terms, procedures, etc.
I use construction paper and die-cuts provided by my school to make my own posters instead of purchasing some (hello 100% customization!). Pictured above are words I discourage my students from over-using in their writing with possible synonym suggestions below. I'm a fan of bright colors so I used a variety of colors. I also made posters with the curriculum essential objectives, all the parts of speech, my class website, and remind 101 text information. I also have some posters for specific units: a Romeo & Juliet character web, Odyssey vocabulary words, etc.

How do you decorate your space?