To Decorate or Not Decorate...That is the Question

Secondary Classrooms: To Decorate or Not To Decorate?  Read more:

I love looking at all the cute elementary teachers' classroom pictures. There's something so magical and inviting with all the colors, rugs, story time areas, and cute tiny tables and chairs.

Then, as students get older and the desks get taller, classrooms start to turn...well, a little bland.

What happened to the bright colors?
The rugs on the floor?
The polka dot curtains?
The decorated doors?

Are those things reserved just for the tiny tots in the primary grades? To be honest, I don't think I could picture students in chemistry class sitting around little decorated chairs doing a lab experiment, could you? And if you let high school students sit on a carpet square in the room for story time, wouldn't they just fall asleep? And wouldn't group desk formations encourage cheating?

These are all excuses we high school teachers come up with because, quite frankly, who has time for this?

There are syllabi to copy!
Lessons to plan!
Rosters to load!
Apps to be ran!

Yet, elementary teachers do many of these things and even though they may only have 30 students to our 150, they do have prep work that does not involve decorating. So perhaps high school teachers just decide that classroom aesthetics aren't that important.

But...are they?

Do you decorate your high school room? If so, how does it impact the learning environment, if at all?

I've actually given this a lot of thought because I like a colorful room. I love hanging memes, quote signs, and posters relating to the novels we read. And an English classroom wouldn't be complete without books! These things count as decoration, right?

I think having a happy-looking room will brighten the students' moods. At least I hope it does. I've never done any formal research on the topic, but would love to see a study about this for secondary classrooms.

So I'm going to share some of my classroom pictures that may not be as colorful or organized as my elementary teacher friends', but I love my classroom. :)

I have almost an entire wall in my classroom lined with bookshelves. As my classroom library grew, the wonderful custodians in my building added the short oak bookcases--one-by-one each summer. Three years ago, our new counselor redecorated one of the rooms in her office and no longer needed the tall bookshelves, so our custodians--knowing how much I could use them--surprised me by adding them to my room. (Did I say already that I have THE best custodians!?)

I also think plants make any room feel more warm and homey.

Use books & plants to brighten up your secondary classroom Read more:

On the window by my classroom door I added the previous years' "book selfies" (this is a FREEBIE in my store). Students love to look at the books their classmates recommend each year, so I continue to add to them each year as I get new book selfies from students. I will probably have to extend the display onto the door as it grows. I love that the first thing they see walking in and walking out are books.

Book selfie display in a secondary classroom  Read more:

Another simple tip is to add fresh flowers from your yard (or the neighbor's, if they don't mind!). Flowers make everyone feel special and students DO notice these little things. It's simple and it really does help with creating a more cheerful mood and adding a fresh scent. Just be aware of allergies--some flowers have pollen that may spark hayfever or other allergic reactions. 

Use fresh flowers to add a special touch to your secondary classroom  Read more:

Don't neglect the ceiling; it's a way to display student work and add a 3-dimensional feature to your room without cluttering the walls or using valuable board space. Here, I displayed student collage mobiles and trading cards. Both are great back-to-school activities.

Use the ceiling to display student work. Read more:

I usually use my whiteboards for displaying student work. One thing I learned from elementary teachers is to use bulletin-board borders on my whiteboard to separate sections. I have one section I use for making announcements and displays students who were featured in the newspaper for various achievements.

Display student work in your secondary classroom

Use colorful borders to create sections on your whiteboard   Read more:

Interactive bulletin boards are also very popular with secondary students. It gives students something to read and interact with before, after, and during class if time permits. This one is a banned books display in a social studies classroom.

Banned books display in a secondary classroom

Memes can be fun reminders of your classroom rules, policies, or just to supplement your instruction. And we all know how much middle and high school students love memes, so don't be afraid to add them to your decor.

Memes can spark student interest  Read more:

Please share how you "decorate" your secondary room and feel free to link up a post to your blog or website. I'd love to see more examples of secondary rooms! And thanks to all the elementary teachers out there who bring color and joy into the lives of millions of school children each year.

This post is featured on the TeachersPayTeachers (TpT) Blog. You'll find many helpful articles for secondary teachers there!

Secondary teachers: Do you decorate your classrooms?

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Hunger Games DVD Giveaway!

In case you hadn't heard, I'm having a giveaway for "The Hunger Games" DVD on my other blog Hunger Games Lessons. It ends this week, so make sure you enter to win it and my Hunger Games Novel vs. Movie lesson pack.

In addition, I posted links to various Hunger Games freebies from my teaching friends.  There's a wide variety, so check them out.

Thanks for stopping by & have a great week!

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I Know What You Read This Summer

I Know What You Read This Summer - Have students post books they read for other students to see.

I've decided to switch my old "Good Reads" board space up this year. I use that space to encourage students to suggest books to their classmates. It allows them to see what their friends are reading, rather than just having me suggest books. It's also more meaningful coming from their peers. In addition, they get a chance to contribute to the classroom "decor" (if you can call my room having "decor"). Students LOVE writing on white boards. I have no idea why, but even my seniors enjoyed the opportunity to write on the board.

So I made this sign for that space: "I Know What You Read This Summer." I am sure that someone before me probably came up with this parody of the novel/movie, since I Know What You Did Last Summer has been around for years (1973 to be exact). But you are welcome to download this poster for your own classroom. You can take the image file from here, or download it in my TpT store for a larger, better quality PDF file.

I've posted some classroom pictures on my Facebook Page and will add more on here when I have the board up. :)

What do you do to encourage students to read? Please share with us!

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It's a Clip Art Giveaway!


Like the banner says, you do NOT want to miss this giveaway!
Check out all the TeachersPayTeachers clip artists and enter the giveaway for a great bundle of art.
Just click on the banner to get started. It ends Sunday, so enter now.

I'll be giving away my popular "It's a Hoot" Owl package. But guess what? If you already have that bundle, I'll let you pick out any other package from my store.

Special thanks to Lita from Learning in Spain for hosting this giveaway.

Good luck, friends!
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Are You a Teacher? Do You Love Pinterest? Join the Edu-Pinner Link-Up

In case you haven't noticed, I love Pinterest. I'm a self-proclaimed pinhead and proud of it. I recently joined Rainbows Within Reach's "Great Edu-Pinner Link-Up." Thanks to Debbie from Rainbows for putting together this awesome collection of educational Pinterest users. She is number one and has 25K+ followers! Isn't that amazing? I am number 85. I think the last I checked I had a little over 2K, so I have a ways to go. I try to follow back, but if you link up your Pinterest url below, it'll be much easier for me.

I pin a lot of teaching tips, resources, freebies, and humor onto my boards. And, of course, anything related to The Hunger Games trilogy. But my Hunger Games boards are only a small fraction of what I pin. In fact, guess which pin is my most popular? It's from my humor board and I pinned it on Jan. 1, 2012. Yep, it's a comic.
According to PinReach, this is my most popular pin.
My more popular boards are:
Teaching The Hunger Games Trilogy
Teaching Resources
Back to School
Books Worth Reading
1:1 Technology
Education (lots of infographics and misc. posts related to education)

I'd love to see more secondary teachers on the list. I do love the elementary teachers, so no offense to any of you at all. Looking into your classrooms and seeing all the fun things you get to do with your students makes me a little envious. But then I remember that you also have to help your students blow their noses and I'm back to being OK with teaching high school. So come on, middle and high school teachers...let's see your pin boards!
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What Are Your Classroom Rules?

From Close to Home by John McPherson
One of the more difficult parts of classroom management is coming up with a list of classroom rules. You could be like Mrs. Mutner (above) and cover everything from "wearing weird clothes" or "making smart-alecky remarks." Or you could keep it more simple (which is what I would recommend).

I like to show the Close to Home comic and actually keep this posted in my classroom near the doorway. I've been a John McPherson fan for many years and stock my classroom with several of his Close to Home books for my students to enjoy. I love using humor and showing your students Mrs. Mutner's rules is a great icebreaker into your own class rules. Here are some additional "humorous" images from my classroom that I posted last year, before I had any followers. :)

After my students loosen up, I give them my classroom rules. It's important to keep your rules simple and broad. Here are some guidelines I learned long ago from one of my education professors:
Here's an example of my classroom rules (or expectations):
You can download a copy of this poster free (without the website link) from my teacher store: 

Though they are short, they lead into various discussions, like being punctual, bringing all the necessary supplies to class (book, pen/pencil, paper, laptop, etc.), how we treat one another, and appropriate language used in the classroom.

Even though you want to keep your rules simple, class procedures are another story. You will want to go over little things like how they should turn in homework (Do you want it printed on paper? written in pencil? emailed to you? dropped in your digital dropbox? and so on...).

Elementary teachers will have to be more detailed, even modeling some of the procedures for the students. You can see Wise Guys' resources for class procedures if you teach elementary. They have a freebie you can download {HERE}.

Secondary teachers may not have to model as much, but it is still a good idea to go over procedures the first day of school or sometime during the first week of school. Topics will most likely vary from elementary; I always go over our school handbook rules on cell phone use, turning in late work, and chewing gum. My packet "Can I Chew Gum in Class?" is a great way to cover these procedures and rules in a way that is less boring than just reading them from a syllabus. It also places more responsibility on the students for figuring out what the rules are.

I also love Miriam  Hamilton Keare's "Golden Rules For Living" as seen below in the image. I inherited this from another teacher when I first started out and have kept it posted in my classroom for years.

Whether this is your first year or 30th year teaching, I hope you find these classroom rules and procedures tips helpful. Though I have been working in education since 1994, I still question my beginning of the year routine. Each year a few days before school starts (or, the night before) I always go over my syllabus and make adjustments. I learn from other teachers all the time. Even from Mrs. Mutner...on what not to do, of course.

Have a GREAT school year!

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