The layout and physical resourcing of the classroom environment can
significantly affect how students and teachers work within it. The
following features are important to consider when setting up a classroom
environment that promotes mathematical thinking and supports student
Children need to be able to easily move to and from work areas. The teacher needs to be able to move around the classroom to conference with individual students and offer assistance as needed. These practices are easier if an open layout of furniture is used. Desks or tables arranged in clusters allow children to easily work together in pairs or small groups with someone sitting across from them and also next to them.
A comfortable meeting area is essential for the mini-lesson and whole class discussions that take place during the share component of the lesson. This may be a mat or rug located either in a corner or the center of the room with resources used by the teacher for demonstration purposes, such as an easel whiteboard or chart paper and markers and enlarged manipulatives that can be seen by all students. Some teachers also like to designate a chair as the “mathematician’s chair” for students to use when presenting their work.
Storing Tools for Learning
Useful Manipulatives for K-2 Classrooms |
Class 100 Chart
Two Color Counters
Clocks (Teacher and student)
Counters (e.g. bear counters)
Useful Manipulatives for Gd. 3-5 Classrooms |
Base 10 blocks
2 Color Counters
Commercial Math Games (e.g. 24, Equate)
Metersticks and Yardsticks
The visual impact of the classroom environment is important. When we walk into any room, the first pieces of information we get about the environment are visual. Similarly, what is displayed on bulletin boards and on the walls of classrooms tell a great deal about the learning that is occurring in the classroom environment.
The walls and bulletin boards of a classroom are like a museum. They offer a history of the students’ work and thinking and a source of information for students, teachers, administrators, and parents. These displays need to convey to students that their work is valued while enabling them to broaden their own ideas as they view the work of their peers.
Displays of students’ work should feature strongly in the classroom environment and be changed regularly throughout the year. Teachers may display work samples showing different ways that children recorded their mathematical thinking for a particular problem, or select a variety of pieces to show the different tasks completed during a particular unit.
In order to ensure that all students have their work displayed during the year teachers can keep a record of whose work has been displayed, or set up a bulletin board with a distinct space for each child in the class. Making students responsible for choosing a piece of word to be displayed in their individual space on the bulletin board encourages students to reflect on their work.
*See the following link for ideas on how to set up an interactive math word wall.