A well-designed classroom boosts student learning by as much as 16% (Barrett, Zhang, Davies, & Barrett 2015), but overdecorating is a distraction. Busy teachers can use good classroom decoration and design principles to boost learning. Another study found that classroom design could be attributed to a 25% impact positive or negative over the course of a school year. Here's a quick list of the most valuable classroom decoration and design resources.
Classroom Design Resources
[callout]Tip: One of the best ways to get ideas is to look at classrooms. Check out the Pinterest boards below or start off with Supply Addicts 80+ Beautiful Classrooms and get excited about what you can do.[/callout]
- Tips for Creating Wow-Worthy Learning Spaces by Todd Finley [Edutopia]
- Using Bulletin Boards to Differentiate the Classroom Environment by Jessica Mazone [Gifted Education Communicator]
- When Students Design Their Own Schools by Erin Klein
- Lessons in School Design by Crow Island Elementary by Suzie Boss [Edutopia]
- Visualizing 21st-Century Classroom Design by Mary Wade on Edutopia New! 6/8/2016 (Great 5 step system)
- Classroom Design and how it Influences Behavior from Early Childhood News New! 6/8/2016
- How poorly designed classroom space puts student learning at risk by Lennie Scott-Webber on the Hechinger Report New! 6/8/2016
- 3 Tips for Brain-Friendly Classroom Design by Erin Klein New! 6/8/2016
- 10+ tips for Using Brain-Based Methods to Redesign Your Classroom by Edsurge New! 6/8/2016
- Evolution of MakerSpace by Colleen Graves on School Library Journal New! 6/8/2016
Interviews with Experts
- Erin Klein on Classroom Design [Every Classroom Matters episode]
- 3 Learning Experiences You Should Give to Every Student with David Jakes [Every Classroom Matters episode]
- Chemistry Teacher Oskar Cymerman's quest to Starbucks My Classroom [Every Classroom Matters episode] New! 6/8/2016
- TinkerLab has tons of great interviews with educators, homeschoolers, and librarians sharing what they're doing. New! 6/8/2016
- Meri Cherry created a Reggio Inspired Early Childhood Education Center. New! 6/8/2016
- I love this idea from a family who made a foldaway STEAM table. This could be done in classrooms too!
- New! 6/8/2016
Tools to Help You Design Your Classroom
- Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit – this free how-to toolkit from IDEO introduces educators to design. New! 6/8/2016
- MyKaplan Floor Planner – This free floor planner gives you sample floor plans but lets you work to make your dream classroom work.
- Gliffy – My room was such an odd shape, that I used gliffy to design the floor plan in my classroom.
- Classroom Architect – a Free Classroom floor planner. This doesn't have as many modern elements as MyKaplan, but is simple and requires no login.
- Learning Space Toolkit by North Carolina State University has a system for needs assessment and space planning.
- Class Setup Tool from Scholastic New! 6/8/2016
- Classroom Floorplanner tool New! 6/8/2016
- 7 Principles for Classroom Design: The Learning Space Rating System by Educause
- Incredible classroom design infographic (embedded at bottom) from Rossier Online on the Science of Classroom Design. This is perfect for printing and sharing with teachers. New! 6/8/2016
- 6 Secrets of Active Learning Classroom Design by Campus Technology is a great overview of classroom design in higher education. New! 6/8/2016
- Color-Coded Clean Up: Organizing Your Makerspace by Making with Ms. Jess New! 6/8/2016
- Designing a School Makerspace by Jennifer Cooper on Edutopia New! 6/8/2016
- Decorating and Organizing the Art Classroom. There's a great idea in this piece of taking a picture of what the room looks like when organized so students know how to put it back together! New! 6/8/2016
- How to Organize Your LittleBits Collection by Renovated Learning New! 6/8/2016
- 15 Incredible MakerSpaces – lots of ideas here. New! 6/8/2016
- How the Maker Movement is Moving into Classrooms – an article I wrote for Edutopia to help understand what the maker movement is. New! 6/8/2016
- The DIY World of Maker Tools and Their Uses – another article I wrote on Edutopia to break down the variety of tools being used. New! 6/8/2016
- Organizing a Robotics Classroom by ROBOTC New! 6/8/2016
- Starting a School Makerspace from Scratch on Edutopia New! 6/8/2016
- Shop Class of the Future… on Wheels by Make Magazine
- 6 Strategies of Funding a Makerspace by Paloma Garcia-Lopez at Edutopia
- Grants for MakerSpace Schools
- How to Bring Design Thinking to Your School for Free (Without Hiring a Fancy Consultant) by Edsurge
- 6 Ways to Rethink Your Library Space and Make it Amazing from the Renovated Learning Blog New! 6/8/2016
- Shannon Hyman shares how she turned her library into a tinkering space. New! 6/8/2016
- Makerspaces, Participatory Learning, and Libraries from the Unquiet Librarian
- A MakerSpace Takes over a Local Library – Fayetteville's Free Library
- Library Makers: Hands on learning for all ages
- Vermont Libraries and Makers
- Full STEAM Ahead: Injecting Art and Creativity into STEM by School Library Journal
- Architect's RosanBosch's Portfolio of Teaching & Institution Designs
- Terry Heick's Learnist Board with 50 Bulletin Board Ideas
- 24 Places to Find Bulletin Board Displays by Julie Greller
- School Girl Style's Classroom Ideas
- The Journal's Extreme Makeover School Edition June 2016 article
- The Children's Design Studio has many resources to add to your maker collection. New! 6/8/2016
- K-12 Design Education Lesson Planning by Design-Ed for Learning
- Redesigning Learning Spaces by Robert Dillon, Ben Gilpin, AJ Juliani and Erin Klein – I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS QUICK READ!
- Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration by Scott Doorley and Scott Witthoft
- The Third Teacher by O'Donnel, Wicklund, Pigozze and Peterson
- Invent to Learn by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager
- Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration – Stanford University
Classroom Design Research and White Papers
Take time to read the research on classroom design and outdoor playground spaces.
- Barrett, P. S., Zhang, Y., Davies, F., & Barrett, L. C. (2015). Clever Classrooms: Summary report of the HEAD project. University of Salford, Manchester.
- http://wallenberg.stanford.edu/research/findings/HPLS/HPLS_Final_Report.pdf [PDF] High Performance Learning Spaces – a paper shared by Stanford University in 2004 about their research into creating spaces where high-performance learning happens.
- An Informational Guide to Young Children's Outdoor Play Spaces [PDF] by the Consortium for Health, Intervention, Learning and Development (CHILD) – This guide is based on the 7 C's identified by a five-year study of outdoor play spaces at child care centers in Vancouver. The 7 C's include: character, context, connectivity, change, chance, clarity, and challenge. This paper gives lots of examples and ideas for what makes an excellent, nurturing outdoor play space.
- Really Good Bulletin Boards [PDF] by Brandi Jordan has fantastic month by month ideas and bulletin board concepts for teachers. This is an excellent PDF to share with your staff.
- Folkins, J. W., Friberg, J. C., & Cesarini, P. A. (2015). University Classroom Design Principles to Facilitate Learning: The Instructor as Advocate. Planning for Higher Education, 43(2), 45.
- Simmons, K., Carpenter, L., Crenshaw, S., & Hinton, V. M. (2015). Exploration of Classroom Seating Arrangement and Student Behavior in a Second Grade Classroom. Georgia Educational Researcher, 12(1), 51.
- How Classroom Design Impacts Student Engagement. White Paper.
- Study Shows How Classroom Design Affects Student Learning As much as 25% impact positive or negative according to this study. New! 6/8/2016
- Classroom Design-Literature Review prepared for The Special Committee on Classroom Design at Princeton University (2013) Added 6/8/2016
- Susan J. Kovalik and Karen D. Olsen's “Integrated Thematic Model” which focuses on 9 body brain-compatible elements of curriculum development and instructions.
Build Your Classroom Design PLN
Build your Personal Learning Network (PLN) by adding these experts and resources to your social media accounts.
Classroom Design Communities
- Classroom Cribs – This cool space focuses on brain-friendly classroom design and runs a challenge at the beginning of each school year.
- Cooper Hewitt's Process Lab and Design Museum
- K12 Schools Using Design Education via Design-Ed for Knowledge – many of these schools extend their design education to space design and you can see it when you look at them. New! 6/8/2016
- Higher Education Design Schools New! 6/8/2016
- Designing with Children Database of ideas and what children are doing. You can search by age group, project stage, group size and the children's role. Very cool! So many great ideas here! New! 6/8/2016
- Project H Toolbox openly shares their lesson plans, activities and project briefs. You can learn so much from them! New! 6/8/2016
Classroom Design Hashtags
- #ntchat – the new teacher chat sometimes has classroom design ideas
[callout]You may also want to take a look at the Maker education hashtags as this often impacts Classroom Design: #MakerEd, #MakerSpace.[/callout]
Classroom Design Pinterest Boards
[callout]Tip: Remember that you can always just search for the kind of design you want. But also remember that often people tag things decorations and don't use the word design. For example, here are some awesome science classroom ideas on Pinterest. I typed in science classroom decorations to get this list.[/callout]
- Classroom Environment Board by What Have I Learned
- Classroom Design Board by Erin Klein (she's one of my favorites)
- Classroom Management Board curated by 81 Teachers on Pinterest has lots of ideas.
- Classroom Organization and Decoration – My board where I add things to decorate and organize my classroom.
People Who Share About Classroom Design
- Erin Klein @kleinerin
- David Jakes @djakes
- Ewan McIntosh @ewanmcintosh
- I have to include Caine's Arcade and the birth of the Cardboard challenge – this 9-year-old invented a simple idea that changed so many things about what we want to DO in the classroom. Study this as an example of how design can be impacted with a simple idea. He belongs here just because of the impact he's had on what people are doing with making.
Organizations who Talk about Classroom Design
- Design Ed for Learning
- MIT's Fab Lab
- Make Magazine
- Maker Faire
- Makerspace – to discover cool projects and connect with other makers
- Future Makers – organization of kid makers
- Maker Kids
- Institute of Play
- Renovated Learning
- The Tinkering Studio
Videos and Slide Decks
- “Setting Up a Brain Friendly, Beautiful Classroom” Erin Klein did a webinar on setting up a Brainfriendly classroom that I recommend watching.
- Making Mindsets, a panel I led at ISTE 2016 has some fantastic slides from David Jakes, Erin Klein, Sylvia Martinez, Karen LIrenman, and Dr. Jackie Gerstein on Classroom Design and Making 6/8/2016
- David Jakes has a fantastic Learning Design Playbook he created for the Lovett School and shares on his website. 6/8/2016
- Design Thinking Action Lab Interviews – video playlist 6/8/2016
- 5 Minute Film Festival: Design Thinking in Schools from Edutopia
- Taking Design Thinking to School [PDF] a slidedeck from Stanford University
- An Educator's guide to Design Thinking [PDF] another Stanford University slide deck
How to Make an Ugly Classroom Beautiful
This time lapse video has over 200,000 views for a reason. Awesome. Once again, we see that classroom decoration is an art. The only question I have about this classroom is if it is too noisy, but I love how the teacher uses inexpensive supplies like construction paper to make a huge difference. I also like the share chair at the front. I am also curious how well the paper held up during the year but he did put clear tape over it on the desks.
Classroom Caboodle's elementary Classroom Layout
Organizing Student Work featuring Ms. Hepburn's First Grade Classroom
Sprinkle Teaching Magic
Shelia Jane shares what she's done in her classroom crib.
Teacher to the Core Gives you a Tour of Her Classroom
Shelly Gray talks about Organizing Classroom Learning Centers
Hope King from Ron Clark Academy gives her Tour
Her classroom is epic! (So is Ron Clark's School.)
[reminder preface=”Question:”]What is missing? Please share in the comments and I'll check it out and add it to this list. [/reminder]
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This is such an amazing and thorough roundup, thanks! As a piano teacher with a fairly small home studio, design is always on my mind (how to make it cozy but not cluttered, professional but inviting, etc). This will be useful!
Good luck Allysia. If you come across other resources, let me know and I’ll share them!
I’m working in adult education in Leuven, Belgium.
Our school is the language school of the university. We teach 18 languages to students, personnel and people outside the university.
Could you recommend books/articles/ … about class design in adult education / college / university ?
So you want recommendations on laying out a classroom in college? I am guessing some of these things apply but I would look at the research in blended and elearning because you’ve also got an online classroom. I hope some others stop by and can point us into a direction. I would search the Inside HigherEd blog and see what they ahve to say!
Talk about an authority list post! Wow.