Classroom setup is an important factor in how your class will run. It determines how students will move, collaborate, and engage in classroom activities. Here are things to consider when setting up your science classroom.
Setting Up Your Science Classroom to Promote Safety
Student safety should be your primary consideration when setting up your classroom. Not only should materials be stored safely, but students should be taught how to use them properly. Posters are a great way to promote safety and it’s a good idea to place them throughout your classroom.
Think about the most common safety concerns that you have in your classroom and design a solution ahead of time.
For example, broken glass is often an issue in my classroom. Despite explicitly teaching students how to deal with glassware, it does break from time to time.
Make sure you designate a sharps container labeled for these incidents. Even an old cardboard box can work as long as it is well labeled. Include signage that tells students what they should do when something breaks.
Consider How to Promote Independence
Wouldn’t it be lovely if your students could choose the appropriate lab equipment for themselves, set up their labs, AND clean everything up? It is possible, to varying degrees depending on the grade level.
Set up your science classroom to promote student independence. Label cabinets and other storage. This way they can select their own materials when Planning and Carrying Out Investigations.
If you are nervous about setting them totally free, have them write out their materials list and procedure ahead of time and require that they have it checked by you before they begin their experiment or inquiry assignment.
One of the ways that I set up my classroom is by using plastic storage containers. I stock up when they are on sale. They are see-through so students can see what is inside.
I keep material in these containers, but I also like to have some that students can use to hold their own materials. If there is a container that I intend to reuse for multiple purposes, I like to use dry-erase tape on the outside, as you see here.
Make Sure Your Classroom is Accessible
It is important to make sure that your classroom is accessible to all students.
One of the common issues I have had is with wheelchair accessibility. It is important that a student in a wheelchair can move freely throughout your classroom. Also, consider the height of your lab tables. Many of them are too high for students to use the equipment. Often, you can solve this problem by setting up an alternate group station at a lower table.
Many accessibility requirements are addressed with your seating chart. Make sure to review student’s accommodations. Work with your resource team to make sure you have what you need to have an accessible classroom.
Setting Up the Main Seating Area
Ideally, your seating arrangement should promote collaboration, comfort and movement. Consider how they will sit when they are collaborating and when they are working independently. Your space should flexible so that students can work in both scenarios.
If you have lab tables in your classroom, these will limit your options. Do the best you can with the arrangement that you have.
Want to learn more?
- 7 Ways to Increase Student Independence in Your Science Class This Year
- Why the Scientific Method Doesn’t Align with NGSS
- Starting the School Year with NGSS
- 12 Ways to Upgrade Your Classroom Design