Teaching Students with LD and ADHD

Physical Classroom Environment

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Joined: Apr 18, 2007
Posts: 2
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Posted Apr 18, 2007 at 12:50:19 PM
Subject: Physical Classroom Environment

As a substitute for the past several years I have seen many differenc classroom environments. Now I am going to have my own class and I would like some input on wall decorations, posters and hanging things from the ceilings. My instinct is that LD students and even typical students focus better if there is some quiet or blank space on the walls and nothing dangling from the ceilings. I also believe that limiting some of the personal furniture that teachers bring into the class would help. Any thoughts? Has anyone tried to tone down their walls and seen a positive result? Thank you for any help you can offer.

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Joined Feb 06, 2005
Posts: 265

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Posted:Apr 19, 2007 5:38:33 AM

Hi Brea Mob,
I'm happy for your future students, that you have this concern. Where it is much better to keep the walls free of visual distractions.
Though I've been doing a study into 'blank space' and 'thinking'? Which had its origin with the common situation of a teacher asking a student a question.
Where the student looks up at the ceiling, as they contemplate the answer?
Where typically, the teacher will state:' What are you looking at, the answer is not on the ceiling!'
Yet in fact, that is often where the answer can be found?
For contemplation, thinking, this is best done by shifting our visual focus to a visually quiet space.
You might notice how you probably 'look away', as you consider a response to a question?
Though if wherever you 'look away' to, their is a wall decoration or poster, or something hanging from the ceiling. Then this will be a distraction.
Basically, blank walls, provide some mental space.

Though in regard to furniture, a major issue is with the classroom acoustics? Where typically, sounds are reflected, rather than absorbed. Given that all surfaces in the classroom, are usually hard surfaces. So the slightest sound is bounced around the classroom.
Another issue is the use of flourescent lighting, which has a strong reflection off white paper, making text difficult to read. So any available 'natural light' needs to be fully used.
So the physical classroom environment, has a significant effect on students!

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Joined May 09, 2007
Posts: 5

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Posted:May 09, 2007 3:14:16 PM

You are quite right about visual distractions. Follow your instinct on this. Sunlight glaring onto the blackboard can also be a forgotten interference.

Let me share my child's experience in what I consider the worst possible scenario. This was a split Grade Two/Three class of 72 students in a language immersion setting. A double classroom was divided with a floor-to-ceiling folding door. I'm sure you can imagine it.

Distractions were multi-sensory, but here are a few of them:

- Odors and noise from the adjoining school kitchen (recycling of beverage containers done during class time; juice boxes, etc. drained in kitchen, without thoroughly flushing/bleaching drains -- mold growing?)
- people shortcutting to the school kitchen through the classroom; even the principal did this, b/c the kitchen door was locked, but the classroom was not
- classroom door usually left open
- divider between classrooms usually left open
- classroom situated directly across the hall from entrance to the gym and music room (remember, the door was usually open)
- high volume of hallway traffic in school of nearly 550 students
- adjoining classroom had a piano, which was used when my son's class was learning science, etc.
- overcrowding; this double classroom held 44 students in previous year; my son's side had 38 students; children bumping into each other, chairs, desks
- not enough coathooks; coats, backpacks, snowpants, etc. thrown on floor
- Students split into A, B and C groups for various subject instruction throughout the day; subjects like Social Studies taught to split grades, despite widely varying curriculum
- little help for the students in core subjects due to a student-teacher ratio of 38/1 ratio in certain subjects

One of the greatest stresses came from the sheer noise of having so many children in such a small space, moving chairs on the floor, etc.

And of course, children in primary school should have a single teacher for optimum performance. Attachment to the teacher aids learning at this age. Instead, there was a complex schedule involving splitting the children up and moving around from classroom to classroom and teacher to teacher several times daily.

My advice is to avoid all of these distractions. I felt very sorry for the children and teachers in this situation, which was the disaster you might imagine.

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