If These Walls Could Talk

August 29, 2016

 I remember setting up my first kindergarten classroom.  I was so excited for the bulletin border, posters, decorations, desk tags, etc.  When it was finished, my classroom was full of bright colors and patterns all following my chosen theme.   I had a cozy reading corner where I was certain students would love to relax.  Hanging up the alphabet chart over the chalkboard was the moment I knew I was a real teacher.  But what was I really communicating through my classroom design?   

 

Students pick up on our attitudes and beliefs not only through our verbal communications but also through the nonverbal communications expressed through the materials we use and the physical design of the classroom.  Thinking back to my first kindergarten classroom, I was communicating the value of language, letters, sounds and reading.  I made sure to create an inviting area where students could choose a book to read from my extensive library.  There was a quiet area for listening and reflecting.  I provided ample materials for self-expression and writing.  The room was full of environmental print and pictures.  But something was missing.  My walls had nothing to say about the importance of math.  Walking into my room, there was overwhelming evidence of literacy but almost no evidence of numeracy. 

 

As you begin this new school year, ask yourself what is being communicated by your classroom design.  Are you providing inviting and engaging spaces for students to explore with math?  Are you celebrating and displaying student mathematical learning?  If these walls could talk, what would they say? 

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Training Spotlight

1st-3rd grade educators worked together to learn engaging ways to develop number sense. Students will develop fact fluency while playing games that use their number sense strategies. By learning their facts in this way, students are not merely memorizing, but rather learning to work with numbers flexibly.  “Low achievers are often low achievers not because they know less but because they don’t use numbers flexibly – they have been set on the wrong path, often from an early age, of trying to memorize methods instead of interacting with numbers flexibly.” Jo Boaler,  Stanford University, 2009

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