WOW! Teachers in the Union Public Schools in Tulsa, OK are incredible. I recently had the opportunity to visit some of their classrooms. They so graciously allowed me to take pictures to share with you the intentionality of their classroom design.
The environment in which children spend their day at school needs to support developmentally appropriate practices that allow children to freely move, to explore with hands-on opportunities, to engage in dramatic play experiences, to build social/emotional skills, and to develop their symbolic thinking and cognitive flexibility among others.
Learning theories from constructivism to social learning
to experiential learning underscore the importance of
active and inquiry-based learning, knowledge construction
through interaction with the environment, social contexts
and meaningful experiences.
-“Most Influential Theories of Learning,” Unesco Education
Intentional Design for hands-on exploration while encouraging symbolic thinking, problem solving, and cognitive flexibility.
Intentionally Designed Art Centers that encourage the process of art instead of the product, and free exploration of creative ideas instead of template art.
Intentional Design of the Classroom Aesthetics so that the students can live and breathe in a beautiful space. Use of natural colors as we use in our homes for a calming effect.
Intentional Design of Student Contributions, the classroom belongs to the students. It should be a reflection of the students instead of the teachers passions or “cutesy/pinteresty” type themes.
Intentional Design to Include Dramatic Play. Students require dramatic play experiences to build executive functioning skills.
- Let the students take control over clean up…
- “Shift Manager” This student provides a 5, 3 and 1-minute warning prior to clean up. (can also signal other transitions throughout the day)
- Following the 5-minute warning, students are not allowed to retrieve any new items or move centers. They need to remain in the center in which they are currently for the last 5 minutes of play.
- “Quality Control Inspector” This student inspects all areas and cleans up any remaining items.
- “Floor Sanitation Monitor” This student picks up scraps from the floor and/or reminds students to throw away their scraps throughout the day, especially after play centers.
- “Celebration Coach” This student provides an award to another student (a gold slip, a high five, a fist bump) for being the most efficient, yet respectful, during clean up. (respectful clean up = cleaning up quickly while still treating materials and friends with respect, using gentle hands and kind words) This student can also be responsible for finding and celebrating respectful behavior throughout the day.
CLICK HERE: Classroom Jobs that Support Free Choice Play Center Clean Up
- Do you have one or two students that clean up time is overstimulating?
- Allow the student to be a “Clean Up Supervisor.” As soon as he/she cleans up 5-10 items (depending on student’s needs) in the center in which he/she was playing, they get a clipboard with all the students’ names and travels from center to center to find 5 children who are experts at cleaning up for the day. The “Supervisor” can reward those five with a High Five or Fist Bump at the end of clean up time or announce the names for the whole class to give a silent cheer.
- Allow the student to complete another job that consists of heavy pressure or heavy lifting such as taking a stack of books to a neighbor teacher or wiping all tables with a spray bottle of water and a rag (or just a wet rag).