Highland Learning and Teaching Toolkit

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Learning and Teaching should be Inclusive and Enjoyable:

The Learning Environment
 

 

For education in school to be effective, the environment needs to be conducive to learning, allowing the pupils space and time to interact within the learning and teaching process.   Creating and maintaining stimulating learning environments can be achieved through effective classroom organisation, interactive and whole school displays and a climate of innovation.

Points Arising from Research

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The best learning environment is one of high challenge and low stress

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Ritualised and patterned positive teacher behaviour influences performance

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Constant and varied exposure to new material encourages quicker and deeper learning

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Differentiated structures are necessary for effective individualised learning

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Constant and varied exposure to new material encourages quicker and deeper learning    

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Music can be used to improve recall as well as create the chosen learning  environment

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Incorporate a range of teaching strategies within planning

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Ensure resources are appropriate, accessible, identifiable and relevant to children’s learning needs

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Environment should support pupils to become independent and active learners

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Adopt a collaborative approach when planning for children’s needs

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Good visual display can improve recall and attention by up to 80%

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Equal opportunities form an integral part of the formal and informal curriculum
 

Key Elements of the Learning Environment

The visual environment:
 
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Whole school display linked to theme, which supports a planned set of values of the whole school community

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Good learning and teaching displays in classrooms and corridors reflecting a broad and balanced curriculum which is well matched to the needs of the pupils

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Displays include a variety of languages and scripts, positive images of minority groups and positive role models for all pupils and staff

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Teaching resources and displays reflecting the multi-cultural and social diverse nature of local and wider communities

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Provide opportunities for pupils to interact with a culturally and socially diverse range of people e.g. through visits, visitors, pen friends, exchanges

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Litter, graffiti or vandalism

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Good development of school grounds

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Tidy staff room and offices

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A planned programme of improvements to the school environment

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Purposefully organised classrooms

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Up to date ICT is accessible

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Staff take on responsibilities for areas of the school

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Develop citizenship         

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Use intervention strategies e.g. ’circle time’, ’schools’ councils’, ’pupils’ courts’ and ’mediation’

The external environment:

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 Use visual display around the room to highlight key topics, key words, and key concepts   

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Use visual display to tell the story of the topic which is being studied        

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Ensure visual display provides a good balance of images, symbols, pictures, colour and text 

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Paint games on playground surfaces          

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Purchase games equipment, which encourages physical activity and co-operative play 

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Train playground supervisors in new playground games and the imaginative and safe use of playground equipment  

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Plant bulbs, trees and sensory gardens  

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Increase the provision of litter and recycling bins     

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Install benches and tables

The internal environment:

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Display more pupils’ work in public areas and classrooms       

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Pupils know where material, equipment and other learning resources are kept

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Renovate toilets and shower blocks (e.g. fixing locks on doors, improving lighting and ventilation)          

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Better checking systems for toilets (e.g. ensuring soap and paper are available)

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Locate water-drinking stations   

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Paint murals        

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Redecorate areas in bright colours 

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Carpet classrooms and corridors           

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Relocate coat racks and ensure ‘easy stowing’ systems for shoes

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Fit blinds in ’sun trap’ rooms      

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Create health notice boards
 

Reflection  and Discussion

Which areas of the above do you recognise in your current school/classroom practice?

Are there any areas that you would consider adopting to enhance the learning environment in your school/classroom?

Some Development Activities Towards Enhancing the Learning Environment

Key Element

Objective

Action

 

Some examples and suggestions

Visual

Displays include a variety of languages and scripts, positive images of minority groups and positive role models for all pupils and staff.

School mounts exhibitions to emphasise positive role models e.g. achievements of females from a variety of ethnic groups in management and science, achievement of males in the arts and caring professions.

Aural

Use music to create a working mood appropriate to the activity. Aid relaxation, energise, learning and concentration with selected music

Use 'passive' concerts to establish a positive learning attitude e.g. Vivaldi - Five Concertos for Flute and Chamber Orchester; Bach - Fantasia in C minor; Ben E King - Stand by Me; Louis Armstrong - What a Wonderful Life;Tina Turner - Simply the Best.

Behavioural

Use intervention strategies e.g. 'circle time', 'school councils', 'pupil courts' and 'mediation'.

Pupils with staff support, organise their own groups e.g. school councils, where equality issues can be raised and discussed.

External

Use visual display to tell the story of the topic which is being studied.

Geography class - bright visual displays of work placed alongside large posters of beautiful scenery. Use a subject bulletin board for snippets of information, affirmation walls with individual bricks comprising  students' statements of what they like about the subject. Photographs of field trips.

Internal

Pupils know where material, equipment and other learning resources are kept.

Train pupils both individually and collectively to care for resources and keep them in order.

Selected References

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Further Reading

The following are suggested as starting points. They contain references to other work, which could be useful.

Brighouse, T. & Woods. D, (1999) How to improve your school  Routledge & Farmer

Moseley. J. (1995) Turn Your School Around  Cambridge: LDA

SCCC (1996) Teaching for Effective Learning Dundee: SCC 

Smith, A. (1996) Accelerated Learning in the Classroom  Network Educational Press Ltd. 

 


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Last updated 20/08/2010
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