Creating a “learning environment”-Lessons from a 2nd grade classroom

The photos and observations below are from Public School 126-Marjorie H. Dunbar Elementary School in the South Bronx in New York City.

Cooperative Learning 5

Creating an environment where learning can occur is done by:

1. Group instruction in a comfortable environment
2. Learning environment is orderly
3. Active participation by students
4. Students are close-proximity of learning
5. Visual signs support learning

Learning in small groups

Learning is enhanced by working in small groups.

Geology Lesson
Geology Lesson

Visual signs support learning-A geology lesson is supported by large, easy to read and understand signs.

Butterfly Friends-a world without numbers

Story-boards support learning

Butterfly friends is a lesson from a story
World without numbers helps students understand the place, relevance and importance of numbers and math.

Smart Words

Learning takes complex ideas and provides simple examples:

1. Smarts words: Identify-Character-Genre-Perspective-Narrative-Predict-Plot-Similie
2. Learning connects the part together-provides a road map of understanding


1. What do authors do?
2. The same is done for books-how are books organized?
Cover-Title Page-Table of contents-chapters-index

First-then-next-5S example-a place for everything-photo

Each student has a folder by subject for their work
Each subject is color coded and labeled
Anyone can find a students work easily
Students put away the work folders
Supplies are well marked and taken out and put away by students

Do you work projects, supplies and inventory strategies meet these simple baseline requirements? If not, consider visiting one of your local elementary schools!

The Summary

• The goals are visible
• The projects are labeled, visible and available to see
• Learning is supported by visual signs
• Learning environment is comfortable-clean and organized
• Taking care of collective resources is taught, encouraged and enforced
• Creativity and learning is done in close, interactive settings, in small groups and by individual instruction
• Learning breaks down big ideas into smaller, understandable units and puts them in a simple, understandable order.


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