Decorations With A Purpose

Frequency Adverbs Poster–FREE!
Steps To Comprehension Poster–FREE!
Shape Poster–FREE!
CER Posters–FREE!
Story Elements Poster

I have not had themed décor in my classroom for nearly two decades now. It’s not that I’m against it, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it and I marvel at photos of classrooms I see on the internet. I started out theming my bulletin boards and classroom to some degree, but it didn’t work for me. After a couple of years I started to observe my students and take note of what they looked at and utilized in the classroom (something I highly suggest every teacher do, preferably earlier in your career than I did), and I noticed that it was not my beautifully designed/themed décor. What my students actually paid attention to were the things that helped them complete their work. This was a beginning of a shift in how I spent my time, money, and available wall space in the realm of classroom décor.

This change was reinforced by a conversation I had with a student several years after my approach to classroom décor altered (please forgive the grammar, my students are all English language learners):

Student: Miss, you have a poster that tell how do the math!

Me: I know, I put it there, you can go look at it if you want.

Student: Why you do that? It tell answer!

Me: You’re right, it tells you how to find the answer. I did it because I want you to know how to find the answer. Knowledge isn’t a secret, I want you to learn as much as you can. {students gets a confused, I think my teacher is crazy, look on her face} Why don’t you go look at the poster and then work on your math some more?

This conversation made me a little sad because the student had obviously come to the conclusion that teachers are supposed to try and hide information from them in some way, as if knowledge is something that is to be kept secret. This, of course, is not the case, and I don’t know any teachers who would try to do this. While knowledge is something to be worked for, it is not a secret. I want my students to work and seek out knowledge, but I don’t want them to feel as if they have to somehow beat the system or cheat in order to learn and succeed. This clip from the television show, Boy Meets World (season 2, episode 20) sums my point up nicely:

Every teacher I know does everything he/she can to help students grow, learn, and succeed. That is why we create resources and enjoy talking with other teachers about new ideas and methods. My move away from themed/coordinated decorations was another way that I could do this (Kudos to you if you can manage to produce anchor charts, word walls, and other decorations that are also coordinated to a central theme, I cannot!). The focus on anchor charts and other decorations that help students remember procedures and detailed information also goes along with my desire to give more authentic assessments. In order to keep the walls from getting too cluttered, I have a few things that stay up year-round (such as my word wall, genre/author’s purpose wall, and famous quotes board), but other resources get rotated based on what we’re learning. I try to have up the resources related to the unit we just finished and the one on which we’re currently working.

I’ve included links to several of my various posters/anchor charts in other blog posts (click the pictures to go to the poster, click the blue captions to go to the blog posts), but I’ve seen so many social media posts lately about classroom themes/decorations that I wanted to explain how and why my thinking on the matter has changed. I also thought it’d be a great opportunity to share with you some of the various posters and anchor charts that I’ve been successfully using for years (many of them are free). Again, I have only admiration for the beautifully themed classrooms out there, and I stand in awe of teachers who can theme their anchor charts and word walls too. This is simply what works for me and my students, and hopefully it will be an encouragement to others who, like me, find the prospect of theming and coordinating an entire classroom’s décor a little daunting. Happy teaching, everyone!

Need some posters/anchor charts for math? I’ve got you covered:

2 thoughts on “Decorations With A Purpose

  1. That’s exactly what I’m trying to do, and my students find these posters quite helpful. They know where they are in the classroom and always look at them before answering. That’s quit funny because I can follow their eyes across the room walls…


Comments are closed.