Archive for September, 2011

September 19, 2011

Increasing Classroom Personalization – 8 Easy Projects to Try

In order to give students opportunities to express themselves within school environment, without scribbling on their desks, or carving their names into trees in school yard, I’m sharing some ideas that Maxwell and Chmiewski (2008) offered to teachers who participated in their study of effects of classroom personalization on children self-esteem (more here).

photo by cayoup

Even though these ideas were intended for kindergarteners and first graders, some of them are transferable to older students as well. They are inexpensive, easy and fun for young children. Here they are… (inspiring photos included!)

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September 19, 2011

Classroom Personalization and Young Children’s Self-esteem

Recently I wrote about how much it matters for pupils to see, from environmental cues, that they are important in school and how it can affect their academic performance. And, no doubt about it, many teachers do their best to make learning environment cozy, interesting and stimulating for their students.

photo by Kathy Cassidy

However, sometimes when we’re doing something for the children we often tend to do things instead of them. For instance, if you let your toddler choose their outfit, or let your teenager decide on decorating their room, it can be hard not to interfere, and not to push choices that seem better to you. Yes, it’s good to let children know what you think are good choices for them, but there needs to be some space in their lives where they can practice freedom of choice, and consequences and responsibilities that come with it. To do their own mistakes, and learn from them. To leave the trace of who they are at the moment. That’s why teachers might do well by sharing responsibility for environmental adjustments in classroom with their students.

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September 3, 2011

How and Why is Academic Performance Related to School Building Condition?

When you take a look at your local elementary school, does it appear as if something truly amazing is happening inside it? Does it look like a place where young minds get inspired, where their future matters, and where knowledge is celebrated? Take  a look at Faculty of Business and Economics in Melbourne for example – seems like something really important and classy happens there. Compared to it, every elementary school I know looks like just another institution, predictively bland and uninspiring. Like somebody didn’t have fun making it. And others don’t have fun going to it. Like somebody wasn’t proud and excited to get a job of building it. And others aren’t proud to have the opportunity to learn in it. Or excited to have the privilege to teach in it.

Faculty of Business and Economics, The University of Melbourne; photo by Wojtek Gurak

Aside from not being  bold, futuristic and daring architectural statements that give you goosebumps while thinking “Ahh..the temple of knowledge..”, many schools are in really bad condition, too. Leeking roofs, damaged walls and broken windows all tell the story of neglectance and insensitivity. Students in those schools seem to receive the message of being a low priority loud and clear and tend to act upon it – through lower academic achievement.

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