Maximizing Wall Space In The Classroom
Having a classroom that uses its wall space to the maximum doesn’t have to start with the walls. In fact, making better use of all surfaces in the classroom can lead to a student friendly classroom. That’s why having writable surfaces in your classroom shouldn’t be confined to the front whiteboard.
This past year I experienced a shift in thinking when it comes to students writing on the surfaces in the classroom. For years I would ask students not to write on desks and in textbooks. It was always a losing battle. One way I have been able to limit students writing in the wrong place–making more writeable surfaces available to students. At first I gave them an entire whiteboard to write on. I let classes know that anyone could write on this whiteboard to complete a lesson. Students brainstormed using Expo markers or drafted their own questions. When the next class came in the first thing they wanted to see was what did the other class write on the whiteboard. I used to rush to erase what other classes had done but found that the daily discovery of what other classes were up to much more fun. Next, I was able to bring whiteboard tables into the classroom which students use to take notes, complete parts of the lesson, and interact with each other. Even though whiteboard tables are not part of the wall space of the classroom I am able to use much more of the whiteboards since students are doing more of the work they did at the front of the classroom at their own seats.
Other ideas for increasing wall space in the classroom
A strategy that I enjoy using in the classroom is to post work on the walls that has value to students. Often classrooms display posters and student work at the start of the school year and perhaps those posters and student work get an occasional update. However, for the most part displays stay the same throughout the year or for long periods of time. For a display to have value or to be part of walls that can teach teachers should update them with current work or work that students can use as an exemplar for current projects.
Another way to increase your wall space in the classroom is to display work in the hallway or other common areas. Students love to see their work on display. Other teachers will see what’s happening in the classroom. You might even put students in charge to making a display in order to free up your time. Empowering students to display their own work offers a creative challenge to students. I like to share my vision with students of what I think a display should look like and then offer them the chance to create something of their own as well. Often I get a mashup of my own ideas and the students.