Defining surroundings, defining learning

Attending the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy last week left my mind spinning with educational ideas and refreshed with fond memories of my best teachers.  This multi-day professional learning opportunity for science and math teachers was such a treat to sit in on and of the many impressions I was left with was a distinct feeling of being completely surrounded by learning - literally.

As I made origami boxes and filled them with lima beans to make predictions and incorporate lessons about means, modes and spatial relationships, not only was I enamored with the feeling of being a student again but I was taken by the room itself. My group was in a conference room with little to no natural decorating but the teachers from Math Solutions and the National Science Teachers Association that were leading the sessions had taken their classroom skills and filled the walls and even windows with learning. Teaching tips, graphs - some filled and some to be filled, metal washers on strings, speech bubbles and more surrounded us. Which got me thinking about how much our surroundings influence us.

If the teams of teachers had simply walked into an empty, undecorated room, would they had been so immediately engaged? The second we walked in the tone was set. We were going to be up and about filling in graphs, we had hints about the topics we would learn through what was on the walls, and everything around us was usable. When I returned my daily office life, I found similar tactics that we all use here at Scholastic.  We are surrounded by primary colors, our desks are filled with books and friendly Scholastic characters - from Harry to Clifford, Katniss to Ms. Frizzle, and the wall art is Scholastic Art & Writing Award-winning art from students. It must be ingrained in our systems from our classroom days and you know what, it is a successful tactic! It is a constant reminder of our mission and how we serve teachers and students. 

Teachers, as you are preparing your classrooms - I'm sure as I write this in fact - how are you planning to immerse your students in learning?  Share some examples with us!