Creating Clever Classrooms
Recent research from the University of Salford, Clever Classrooms, has shown that classroom design can have a real impact on learners. The findings show that moving an average child from the least effective to the most effective space can have an impact of around 1.3 sub levels (learners are expected to progress by 2 sub levels each academic year). Here we take a look at a few of the small changes, often costing very little or nothing, which teachers can make.
Colour was found to have a big impact on attainment - it accounts for 12% of the variation. The research found that light walls with a bright feature wall work best. Think about which wall you want to draw learners' attention to - for example the whiteboard - see if you can use colour to brighten it up.
Natural light was found to be best for learning. Keeping windows free of displays and moving furniture so it doesn't block light coming in are simple ways of letting light in. Blinds can be used if glare on whiteboards is a problem.
The research also found that cooler classrooms work best - if it's hot, attention spans decrease, leading to achievement and task performance deteriorating. Try to ensure radiators are set to lower settings and open windows during or between lessons - this will also ensure the air quality remains high.
Reducing outside noise from the playground or traffic may also help learners progress. Tips include fitting rubber feet on chairs and using soft furnishings such as carpets or rugs to absorb noise.
Some evidence shows that links to nature may be important for the creative process of writing and for pupils in urban environments. This can be as easy as adding plants to the classrooms, making sure the view from windows isn't blocked by displays or furniture, having wooden furniture in the classroom and making the most of easy access to the outdoors.
Clever classrooms are easy to navigate. For younger learners it's important to have well defined classroom zones. So think about complementing your reading and carpet areas with a PC corner and writing table. Older learners prefer simple classroom configurations.
It's important to create a sense of ownership - give learner's work pride of place and let them create their own displays. It was found that learning is most effective when displays cover up to 80% of the walls - between 20% and 50% of the walls should be kept clear. If learners have lockers or trays let them personalise these with name tags or pictures.
If you're inspired to create a 'Clever Classroom' why not share the results on Twitter using #SmarterSpaces?