Color My World (and My Students’, Please?)

Another Impact on the Environment of the Classroom Article

Before I painted my classroom, it had off-white walls.  The computer desks were a mottled black with white.  The carpeting was gray.  My


students complained about the lack of interest amongst their classrooms in that building, and I felt a little down myself upon arrival.

Although I  have a degree in mathematics, I took so many art classes that I could probably have double-majored.  I also studied color on my own as regards psychological impact.  Therefore, it was only a matter of time before I felt desperate enough to make a major change.   Prior to the new school year, I bought paint, floor cushions, plants, and artwork.  I rearranged the room to accommodate tables that could be placed where needed (for small projects or for larger collaborative efforts).  When my students returned, they were so happy,DSC_0121 and I know felt better about being there, too.  They were comfortable in this new environment.

Take a look at my persuasive video on revamping a learning environment:


Now, what type of academic impact did this have on them?  Because they were so at ease in my room, did that mean that they were too relaxed to be productive?  How could I convince my administration that this change was positive?

This sounds like so many of the hot topics in education today;  I have listed a few of them here:  Bring Your Own Device (BYOD),  the Maker Movement, Flipped Classrooms, and Bricolage.  Pick any topic and there is embedded controversy as to whether these are

  • short-lived and  not worth the investment
  • do not contribute to learning
  • are too time -consuming to implement
  • are too much of a change for people to think about

My own thinking is that if I can get my environment down, then I can think about these other ideas.   As I looked to resources to justify my actions, I realized that most of the studies I found were relatively old  (from the 1950’s to the 1990’s).   I was pleased to discover that the University of Salford’s School of the Built Environment  did a study I was pleased to discover that the University of Salford’s School of the Built Environment  did a study (2015) on the following: lightbox[1]

In a pilot study by the University of Salford and architects, Nightingale Associates, it was found that the classroom environment can affect a child’s academic progress over a year by as much as 25%.

In addition,

The study took two lines of enquiry. The first was to collect data from 751 pupils, such as their age, gender and performance level in maths, reading and writing at the start and end of an academic year.

The second evaluated the holistic classroom environment, taking into account different design parameters such as classroom orientation, natural light and noise, temperature and air quality. Other issues such as flexibility of space, storage facilities and organisation, as well as use of colour were evaluated.

Notably, 73% of the variation in pupil performance driven at the class level can be explained by the building environment factors measured in this study (2012).

This is great news for those of us trying to convince our administrators that this pursuit is definitely worthwhile.  To help motivate educators and administrators of the excitement that a new environment can foster, take a look at this TEDtalk by Cesar Harada (August 2015), on his warehouse classroom:

Check out the link for DesignShare , which has many examples of schools who have reformed their learning environments

Design Share snip pic

Here is a classroom undergoing a transformation (Part 1 of 2)″>

Edutopia videos showing the classroom design company, The Third Teacher+, making over a learning environment at Roosevelt Middle School in San Francisco in 2012:

In order to have an effective environment, is it necessary to hire a professional to make it perfect?  I would say, absolutely not!  Paint the walls, toss down some floor pillows (dog beds work well for this), repurpose used furniture, and mostly, call onn your students and their parents for assistance.   This article is about finding inspiration, enlisting your students as investors in a project in which I believe may have long-term benefits, and creating a room to which (most) people will be happy to make a return visit.

Some resources for classroom design:

  1. Classroom Architecture
  2. Art project plans – for your students…let them decorate for you!
  3. Personalize your classroom
  4. A Place for Learning: The Physical Environment of Classrooms — also has other resources at the end of the article – From Edutopia

Academic Resources:

Study proves classroom design really does matter. (2013). Retrieved December 8, 2015, from

Slide Resources:

  1. Yellow Flower by Milza
  2. Yellow – smiley faces. Prawney
  3. Yellow stars prawny
  4. Yellow lanterns chrystaline24  
  5. Green grass blade pippalou
  6. Green trees hotblack
  7. Green grapes jasongillman
  8. Blue water drops prawney
  9. Orange kconnors
  10. Orange peppers joncutrer
  11. Orange day lillies huggie
  12. Orange Carrots scarletina
  13. HS Science Forest Park High School in Woodbridge VA by Mike Dyer
  14. Couch
  15. Classroom furniture Deb Day
  16. Hand shadow eduardoruiz
  17. Chains 5demayo
  18. Hook DodgertonSkillhause
  19. Houseplants
  20. Collaboration cloud image
  21. PTSA
  22. String of Christmas Lights BSGStudio
  23. Sherwin Williams paint
  24. Discovery Education logo screenshot
  25. iMovie screenshot
  26. Instructables screenshot
  27. screenshot
  28. Project template
  29. fabric
  30. pillows
  31. PTA


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s