Tagged “School Environments”

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Designing a Classroom for Inclusive Learning

Nicole Eredics - The Inclusive Classroom

Post submitted by Nicole Eredics, an elementary educator who has spent more than 15 years working in inclusive classrooms. She is an advocate and has led community support groups. She currently hosts The Inclusive Class radio show on the Talking Special Needs Network on Blog Talk Radio (Friday mornings at 9 a.m. ET). Eredics has developed and discovered many valuable resources for parents, teachers, and schools that focus on the inclusion of special needs children in the classroom. More information can be found on her blog The Inclusive Class.

In recent years, there has been considerable thought and research given to how schools can create inclusive learning environments. Dozens of reference books have been written that recommend inclusive practice, strategies, and solutions. As a result, teachers are becoming more skilled at including children with special needs in the general education classroom.

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Klea Scharberg

School Environments Roundup

What kind of school environments optimize the way students learn, teachers teach, and communities interact? In June and July, we took a look at schools that are conscious of the intersection between physical space and the cognitive, social, and emotional development of students, rather than focusing on one element in isolation. These learning environments facilitate the process of developing students who are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Bob Pearlman, 21st century schools consultant; Kristin Cuilla, director of new school development for New Tech Network; and Luis Torres, principal of P.S. 55 in the Bronx, N.Y.

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Shaping Spaces to Facilitate Learning and Development

Winston Churchill was on to something when he said, "We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us." How are our schools shaping our students' learning experiences; social, emotional, and cognitive development; behavior; and readiness for college, careers, and citizenship? What do our schools say about our values and views of learning, teaching, children, educators, and the role of the community in schools?

Beyond our school building, the ways we set up classrooms and cafeterias, use school buildings after the bell, create learning opportunities outside the classroom, and display student work in halls and on walls speak volumes about our learning cultures. Educators with limited or no financial resources who are committed to transforming the learning culture can use student input, research, creativity, and ingenuity to guide the re-creation of learning spaces. Although some communities have the luxury of building new schools, many others have had to retain design elements from the first half of the last century. And most of us remember design fads that have come and gone because they weren't effective.

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Molly McCloskey

Best Questions: School Environments

Despite the rumors, school improvement is hard. It's not about a single passionate leader. It's not about "fixing" teachers and teaching or parents and parenting. It's not about poverty. It's not about money. And it's not about standards. It's about all of them. And more.

In this column, I'll take on the real deal of school improvement—for all schools, not just certain kinds. And for all kids. Because it's not about quick fixes or checking off the instant strategy of the moment. It's about saying, "Yes, and...", not "Yes, but..." no matter what our circumstances are. It's about asking ourselves the best questions.

That Maslow guy was pretty smart and I wonder if he was thinking about schools when he developed his hierarchy of needs. Have you ever taken a good look at them? (Those of you who have "healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged" in your minds as a daily mantra may notice some parallels!) He could probably write us a pretty good post for this month's theme on school environments.

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Walter McKenzie

Open Campus, Open Network, Open Possibilities

It's a bright, sunny Tuesday morning, and students are entering Roosevelt Elementary school with excitement and energy. No backpacks. No luggage on wheels. Just lunch bags and handheld devices.

As they enter the renovated 75-year old building, students find places to settle in. No homerooms. No morning announcements. Everyone busily logs in to the network system using their personal devices, indicating they are present for the day, reading school announcements, and reviewing their individual schedules for the day.

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Andrew Miller

Matching Physical Structures to Learning and School Culture

Physical structures should match school cultures and learning modalities, not the other way around. Despite what some might say, physical structures communicate a lot about the learning environment and what to expect. Just like we set up seats for the first day of school to set a tone, the building communicates a tone as well. Throughout my visits, I’ve come across many innovative buildings that really set a tone for safe school culture and innovative learning. It's not about technology and bells and whistles; it's about the layout and ways that the walls talk.

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

There Are Heroes Among Us: ASCD Is Awarding $10,000 to Young Educators


We're floored by their passion. We're impressed by their unflagging enthusiasm. We're grateful that they are making a positive difference in the lives of children every day.

At first glance, they may look like average teachers and administrators, but they are different. They are outstanding. They are excellent. They are also ... young.

ASCD needs your help in saluting the next generation of excellence in education. Think of these heroes, these teachers and administrators who have done so much so early in their career. Did you know that each year, ASCD awards $10,000 to up to two educators under the age of 40 in recognition of their significant accomplishments?

But how do you recognize excellence? Each ASCD Outstanding Young Educator Award (OYEA) winner educates the whole child, demonstrates leadership, improves student engagement, achievement and learning, and makes contributions to the education profession. 2011 OYEA teacher winner Brad Kuntz empowered an entire school in Gladstone, Ore., to become more green and sustainable. 2011 OYEA administrator winner Luis Torres tirelessly worked to make PS 55 in the Bronx, N.Y., a safer and healthier place for his students. Watch Brad's and Luis's videos below to see this year's outstanding heroes in action.

Do the ASCD Outstanding Young Educators remind you of someone you know? Do they remind you of yourself? ASCD is accepting nominations and self-nominations for the 2012 Outstanding Young Educator Award until August 1, 2011. Learn more and apply or nominate at www.ascd.org/oyea.

Pinnacle by GlobalScholar is a sponsor of the OYEA program.

ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Teachers' Wish Lists for the Physical Classroom Environment

As we were planning our focus on school environments for June and July, I came across an article in one of my favorite leisure magazines that got me thinking about the effect of the physical school environment on teachers. The article was an interview with a hiking and climbing guide in Utah and the question was simply "Best rescue?" The response has left a significant mark on my thinking.

The hiking guide described the rescue of a man and woman after 36 hours lost in the desert. They were dying. As the guide slowly nursed them back to life, the woman, a teacher, talked about how much it had meant to her to have a window in her classroom and how she'd thought a lot about that while she was dying.


Teachers, if you were granted one wish to change your physical teaching environment for the upcoming school year, what would it be? How might that change affect your teaching and quality of life?

Healthy School Communities

Health and Learning News and Updates


Ontario Greens Its Schools: Ontario is renovating and revitalizing more than 70 schools to ensure that students have better places to learn. Schools will be getting new roofs, windows, and boilers to make schools cleaner, greener, and more suited to the needs of the community. (www.edu.gov.on.ca)

Soda on the Decline with U.S. Teens: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published a study that found fewer U.S. high school students are drinking soda on a daily basis. Water, milk, and fruit juices were reported to be the beverages most often consumed. (www.edweek.org, 6/16)

New USDA Pilot Program Offers Free Meals to All: Districts across Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee are considering taking part in the USDA's new Universal Meal Service pilot program. Schools that already provide free and reduced-price meals to at least 40 percent of their students would be eligible to extend the free meals service to all of their students under the Community Eligibility Option. (www.chicagotribune.com, 6/20)

Nebraska Students See Results from School Wellness Programs: An evaluation of Kearney Public Schools revealed that student obesity decreased by 13 percent after schools implemented various strategies to improve the health of students. Elementary students showed the greatest decline in overweight and obese students. (www.dailyjournal.net, 6/19)


Introduce SEL Practices to Your School: Whole child partner the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) now offers a resource that illustrates steps for applying social and emotional learning (SEL) approaches in schools to promote safe and healthy learning environments. (www.casel.org)

The Bully Project: The Bully Project, a soon-to-be-released documentary film by Lee Hirsch, intends to educate parents, school administrators, and young people about the impact of bullying on vulnerable youth. Watch the trailer for the film, and visit the Bully Project website for information on scheduled screenings, DVD release opportunities, and links to educational material to promote conversations about strategies for bullying prevention. (www.thebullyproject.com)

Take Action

Funding for PTA Activities That Promote Good Health: The National PTA (a whole child partner) will award up to 10 Healthy Lifestyles grants of up to $1,000 each to a PTA in good standing to promote good nutrition and regular physical activity to help address the nation's childhood obesity epidemic. Visit National PTA's Healthy Lifestyles Program for more information on eligibility and how to apply. Deadline: September 2, 2011. (www.pta.org)

Nominate an Outstanding School Counselor: Whole child partner the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) is currently accepting school counselor nominations for its 2012 School Counselor of the Year award. Nominations are due June 30, 2011. (www.schoolcounselor.org)

Healthy School Communities is a worldwide ASCD effort to promote the integration of health and learning and the benefits of school-community collaboration. It is part of a large, multiyear plan to shift public dialogue about education from a narrow, curriculum-centric and accountability system focus to a whole child approach that encompasses all factors required for successful student outcomes. Visit the Healthy School Communities group on ASCD EDge and share everything from ideas and solutions to common concerns.

Podcast Whole Child Podcast

School Environments: Transforming Learning Spaces

Download Podcast Now [Right-Click to Save]

Schools that take a whole child approach to education are conscious of the intersection between physical space and the academic, social, and emotional development of students. The learning environments we create—the physical along with school climate—can either help or hinder learning, development, teaching, and collaboration.

In this episode of the Whole Child Podcast, we look at what kind of school environments optimize the way students learn, teachers teach, and communities interact and hear from guests who are creating learning environments that facilitate the process of ensuring students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. You'll hear from

  • Bob Pearlman who shares his extensive experience and expertise working at nearly every level of the school transformation process. Extend your learning with resources on new learning environments to support 21st century learners. Download a free chapter on designing new learning environments, written by Pearlman, from the book Rethinking How Students Learn.
  • Kristin Cuilla, director of new school development for New Tech Network, who describes how schools and communities are rethinking teaching and learning to create and transform learning environments where students are highly engaged.
  • Luis Torres, principal of P.S. 55 in the Bronx, N.Y., and a 2011 ASCD Outstanding Young Educator, who will share how he has used nearly every part of the learning environment, from the halls and walls to the neighborhood and community partnerships, to revitalize the school, students, family, and community. Learn more about Torres' work in this interview:



What is your school doing to transform the learning environment in ways that make a difference for students' learning and development?

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