Organising the classroom for learning
The environment in a school classroom should be aesthetically pleasing; should stimulate children's interest; should set high standards in the display and presentation of children's work; and should be created in such a way that it is practical to maintain - see Cooper et al. Indeed, classroom display can convey important messages to children.
- Andrew-Power, K and Gormley, C. (2009) Display for Learning. London: Continuum (Reading 8.3).
Even more generally, the physical design of the classroom, including lighting, acoustics and ventilation may be important to children’s learning.
- Higgins, S., Hall, E., Wall, K., Woolner, P. and McCaughey, C. (2005) The Impact of School Environments: A Literature Review. London: Design Council. (Available online).
The management of classroom resources and space can determine the opportunity which teachers have to employ different classroom strategies. When planning a classroom layout it is important to consider how to promote and manage dialogue between the teacher and pupils.
- Mercer, N. and Littlejohn, K. (2007) Dialogue and the Development of Children’s Thinking. London: Routledge. (Reading 11.6)
The introduction of interactive whiteboards, personal laptop computers and other mobile technologies into classrooms also creates different demands on classroom space, particularly if they are to facilitate dialogic teaching and group work:
- Hennessy, S., Warwick, P., Brown, L., Rawlins, D. and Neale, C. (2014) Developing Interactive Teaching and Learning using the IWB: a resource for teachers. Maidenhead: Open University Press
A great deal of effort goes into the creation of ‘teaching time’. The classic paper about use of time in the classroom is from Berliner. And over three decades ago, Campbell & Neill showed that almost 10% can be lost as ‘evaporated time’ in the classroom management activities which are necessary to create teaching and learning opportunities. Quantitatively, findings from the Oracle studies - Galton et al. - showed considerable variations between different classrooms in the proportions of pupil-time with high levels of engagement.
- Berliner, D. (1991) ‘What’s all the fuss about instructional time?’, in M. Ben-Peretz and R. Bromme (eds.), The Nature of Time in Schools: Theoretical Concepts, Practitioner Perceptions. New York: Teachers’ College Press (Reading 8.4).
- Campbell, J. and Neill, S.R. StJ. (1992) Teacher Time and Curriculum Manageability at Key Stage 1. London: AMMA.
- Galton, M., Hargreaves, L., Comber, C., Wall, D. and Pell, A. (1999) Inside the Primary Classroom: 20 years on. London: Routledge.
More recently, the OECD has produced an analysis of effective teaching and learning environments that includes a consideration of the creation of teaching time:
- OECD (2009) Creating Effective Teaching and Learning Environments: First Results from TALIS - Executive Summary. Available online at : http://www.oecd.org/edu/school/43044074.pdf
In this context, contributions to the volume edited by Clipson-Boyles make strong connections between classroom organisation and learning:
- Clipson-Boyles, S. (ed) (2000) Putting Research into Practice in Primary Teaching and Learning. London: David Fulton.