I don’t know about you guys, but I am completely addicted to Pinterest and so jealous of our elementary counterparts with AMAZING room ideas! If you are not already following Secondary Solutions on Pinterest, check us out soon. This year, I decided to step it up on the decoration front in a way that is not only pinterest pretty, but also completely functional for teaching secondary English and the Common Core. I teach primarily American Literature so my ideas for this post surround the idea of teaching literature along a chronological, historical path in US History, but you could do something similar with any literature class. I’d love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, and classroom decorating tips in the comment section below!
On one wall, I created a massive timeline of important quotes and events in US History. The quotes are on the far left in chronological order and include important moments like “Give me liberty or give me death” (Patrick Henry), “Suffrage is the pivital right” (Susan B Anthony), “Mr. Gorbachev tear down that wall” (Ronald Reagan), “Students must have initiative; they should not be imitators” (Cesar Chavez), and more. I tried to line them up with the units of study and the values of my students.
With this wall prominently in place, I can refer to it when teaching literature. For example, when we are reading The Grapes of Wrath we can easily look at how history informs the novel. The 19th amendment gives women the right to vote in 1920; the stock market crashes in 1929, the new deal begins in 1933. How do these historical events impact the characters and conflicts?
I created a “You are Here” arrow that has velcro on the back so we can move it along the timeline as the literature progresses for easy reference. I lucked out that my wall has carpet type material so velcro works, but you could also use painter’s tape or putty to keep it up.
Under the American timeline, I included a section about the (very limited) history of the rest of the world. This helps students to understand the interconnectedness of the world’s history. For example, when we are reading political commentaries by Dr. Seuss, we can look at what is going on in the rest of the world that is inspiring his critique.
For many of the events on the timeline, I included iconic pictures for visual inspiration and also because I teach the rhetoric of images as part of my AP English language class.
On the side opposite of the quotes, I have a white board with my three tips of the week. These are general messages that I like to get out to students but don’t have time for a whole lesson on. I usually include something practical or school schedule related, some type of idiom or maxim, and a grammar point. I spend about 5 minutes somewhere in the week talking about them.
Finally, I got this awesome little organizer from 31 recently. I use it to keep my calendar, display bulletins, hold emergency lesson plans, and organize papers/scantrons. I love that it is beautiful and functional at the same time!
Have any suggestions, comments, or ideas for us? We’re all ears!