August is a rejuvenating time when we get back and start over. A quick surf through pinterest will easily reveal 1000’s of great ideas to decorate your classroom. But when it comes to secondary classrooms, the search gets smaller. Go deeper to look for Science classrooms and you come up with bits and pieces, but not really the whole picture. While it may sound silly because they are only decorations, the reality is that a well designed science classroom impacts how students feel about learning and most importantly about SCIENCE. So don’t underestimate the power of your learning environment.
As many first year teachers likely feel, it’s hard to know what to do when it comes to decorating the class. I know I didn’t know what to do when I first started teaching! I saw this as an elementary activity and being in a K-8 I kind of admired their bulletin board designs and classrooms. They certainly didn’t teach me this in secondary education. So like many teachers my first years were a modge podge of things given to me, impulsive orders and things I picked up along the way from conferences. But I quickly realized that I didn’t know what to do, until I found myself looking for a resource my students needed. So many years later, I began to make better decisions. While I am always working to improve, here are the basics of what I think support making your science classroom the place you and your students will want to be and learn.
First, start with a blank slate. If you are looking for how to set up your classroom, refer to my post on 5 Tips to Set Up Your Classroom earlier. But if your ready to think about your classroom decor, here are the many things that I learned along the way and products I developed to support a great Science classroom!
First know that everything you do, should serve a specific purpose. If you are just trying to make it pretty or look nice that will not be enough. But if you can serve your students and do this, then you are on the right track. Everything that you see here you can find at my TPT store ready to go to help you get started!
#1 SCIENCE RESOURCES:
Of course you want students to feel like they are in a science classroom, but that doesn’t mean hanging a bunch of science posters, choose wisely! Decide what students need to see and will use the entire year. This can include:
- How to Use Lab Equipment/Measure
- How to Apply a Science Skill (Write a Hypothesis, Make a Data Table, etc)
- Lab Safety Rules
- AND, if you want to highlight different units as you teach them–create a place that changes from unit to unit.
And, making it look nice, means choosing colors that are timeless or work together. See some of my tips in my post 5 Tips to Set Up Your Classroom to see the best way to make any color scheme work year after year.
That’s right!! Science requires a lot of pair and teamwork. But this can easily be a struggle if you don’t prepare students for this. So use your decor as a teaching tool that you reinforce from the first day to the last day. This means incorporating team positions, having team roles, having team discussion/accountable talk, and team structures you develop over time. Below are a few examples from my classroom!
For more information on how to teach this look for my upcoming post: How to Turn Working in Groups into TEAMS!
#3 SCIENCE INSPIRATION
Here is where you get to have a little more fun to show your inner science nerd. What memes, quotes, science themed do you want to have in your classroom. Show who you are. Here is a couple from mine from my Science Classroom Decor Bundles.
#4 RELATIONSHIP BUILDING
Building relationships with students is important, especially if you have a process in place that shows how proud you are of their successes. This gives the other students motivation to excel in many different ways. I kept this simple by having a place to display student work, pictures of activities and labs, positive rewards and highlight student success. I used the outside of my door that had my Science Banner. In the middle of the door I placed the Instagram Logo and then as the year progressed I updated it with student pictures of our best moments. Additionally I posted exemplary student work to reinforce what that looks like–with the goal of a different student as often as possible. I had my positive rewards for students, each class and team and made sure that could always earn these–but did not ever take them away. Once you learn about your students, I let them take some pictures when they decided we needed to capture “Moments of Science.” If you let them be a part of the process you are rocking the relationships!
#5 RULES and/or EXPECTATIONS & PROCEDURES:
I start the year by telling students the rules and expectations for the classroom. This sets a precedence for the whole year. I make sure these were visible and after I “taught” them, I still refer to them the entire year, yes the entire year. Sometimes it just takes pointing and when your class buys in, the students will take over and say, “It’s right there!” Teach, Reinforce, Post. Now I know you might be thinking you have 20 plus procedures: When to go the bathroom, what to do if you don’t have a pencil, etc. Post only the absolutes!! Then have a reference for the silly little things. I usually have them glue our procedures into their science notebook and when a silly question is asked, I say “What does it say in your notebook.” I also started a bubble map of things we should not ask after the first month, unless you are new to our school. Students got a kick when I put up a new bubble.
Alright, that is how I choose what goes up in decorating my science classroom. So the million dollar question, how do you make it look pretty and nice. Pick a color scheme with your borders, backgrounds and colored paper. You can also purchase some already created at my Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT). Some examples are provided below. And if you’re looking for a design or want one custom created for your science classroom, use the contact me form or just email me (firstname.lastname@example.org!