Change Their Environment #30GoalsEdu

Goal 28: Change Their Environment of The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators! Click the link to find out more about the 30 Goals Challenge for Educators!

“I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”– Albert Einstein

In 2013, learners worldwide of all ages will walk into traditional classrooms where they will sit in a desk that is in a roll facing their teachers. The teacher will talk for the majority of the period while the student digests the information. What is wrong with this learning? Students get fed so much information and rarely get to do anything with what they are learning. They have no room to explore, test, or play with the knowledge. What happens when we eat too much? We get full and our bodies feel sick. It is an unpleasant process to be stuffed. Instead, wouldn’t we rather our students begin to enjoy their learning. Why don’t we have schools and classrooms where students are at the center of their learning and get to discover knowledge, have the time to experiment with the knowledge and apply the knowledge to their own experiences? We can be the guides.

One problem why students are not more autonomous with their learning is they do not get to own the learning. We can change the dynamic of our classrooms often by changing our environments. You will begin a new semester with students. Look at your classroom. You have the ability to change it up. You can move the desks, throw drawing paper or word walls on the walls. You can add bean bag chairs or have pillows for students. You can add reading, board game, and technology areas. You can change the classroom in small ways that will improve the way you teach your students and the way in which they learn. Imagine if schools worldwide no longer had desks in rolls but in groups with sections partitioned off for self learning. What if classrooms had learning stations? As a teacher, you would think differently of the way you teach because you cannot teach the same in these environments. Just a small change in a physical environment can be very powerful.


Short-term– Change your classroom environment in a small way before the school year starts again.

Long-term– In what ways can you continue to change your classroom environment to show students learning takes place everywhere?


The following ideas and resources will help you change your classroom environment. Try any of these ideas!
  • Create learning stations in your classroom. This presentation will show you how, The How To of Learning Stations.
  • Make Reading Fun for Young Learners– this presentation has tips on how to get students reading by making small changes to their environment.
  • Encourage learners to take part in creating their own learning environments by creating a wall of butcher paper and allowing them to write their favorite quotes, mottos, song lyrics, poetry, etc. or even post pictures or have them create bulletin boards.
  • Goal 16 of 2011 Change Your Environment video and suggestions
  • Take lessons outdoors. Here are a few ideas here.
  • Tour of My Classroom: the First 11 Days by Russ Goerend shows you changes he made to his classroom environment to make it more student-centered.
  • Have students get out of their desks and physically move to play a game in the classroom. Move the desks and feel free to have students walk or run around. Movement is great for the body. Find ideas in these previous goals- Let’s Move and Play and Have Fun!
  • Character education through a deck of cards- Give each student a card face down and tell them to place it on their forehead without looking at it. Instruct the other students who can see the card to treat the student according to the value listed on the card. A person with a Queen is treated very well and a person with the number two is treated with disrespect. The students walk around the room while playing this game. Then the teacher asks the students to guess what their card value was by the way others treated them.
  • Make videos—One of my high school student’s favorite lessons was recreating television commercials. First, each student group chose a commercial and analyzed the stereotypes or misconceptions in the commercial. Then the students tried to recreate the same commercial without the stereotypes or misconceptions.
  • Move the lesson outside! Try outside Round robin discussions — Students sit in small groups on the ground or on picnic benches and discuss a topic; one student keeps a record of the discussion. The class will then come together, with each group reporting its findings.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt — Students can look for objects of a certain color, texture, and so forth. If you want to add a digital aspect, have them record certain sounds, and then have other students hunt for these sounds. Have the students take close-up pictures of objects and have others hunt for the object.
  • Do a field study — I’ve had elementary students hunt for fossils with a paleontologist, collect and analyze weather data with a meteorologist, and explore the microbes in a nearby river with a water engineer. A majority of these activities required only a phone call, and we even walked to some of the events. In Germany, school groups walk to several places or take public transportation, which lowers the cost to make more field trips possible.
  • Journal — Students can sit on pillows on the floor or outdoors and write for 10 minutes in a journal, or each one can pick a place to sit and compose a poem, create a comic, or draw. Here are many bookmarks related to integrating journal writing with students.
Some innovative examples of schools that have changed their school design to promote more student-centered learning:

Important News


Change your classroom environment in a small way to support more student-centered learning.

Did you reflect on this goal? Please leave a comment that you accomplished this goal by either posting your own video reflection on Youtube, using the hashtag #30GoalsEdu, posting on the 30 Goals Facebook group, adding a post to the GooglePlus page, or adding a comment below!

Be inspired with these Inspirational songs, videos, quotes, and more on my Pinterest board, Inspiration for World Changers!

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to subscribe for FREE to receive regular updates!

Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell),, and on her blog,, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at


  1. Hi Shelly, great post!

    We recently trialled ‘innovation projects’ at our school, where teachers were given time and support to trial a new idea / initiative in their teaching. One of our teachers focused on ‘learning spaces’ and did a great job of revolutionising the physical environment of his classroom, using many f the suggestions that are mentioned in your post.
    He did lots of reading and research re. learning spaces and has been really motivated by the professional growth he has experienced as a result of his project, but he was also diligent about measuring the relative success of the changes from a student perspective – the surveys and discussions he conducted with students to gain feedback about their thoughts about the ‘new’ classroom, were almost unanimously positive about the benefits to their learning and the more engaging nature of THEIR classroom environment…
    Thanks ☺

    • We are attempting to “flip” our classrooms. Our school is making a huge investment in buying iPads for all students. Are there any programs that you recommend we start with?

    • Hi Warwick,

      I’d love to learn more. Sounds like an incredible project. Feel free to provide any links.

      Thanks for the great example of innovative teaching.


  2. Perhaps the problem is that of the calculators are the students want to do, and not to teach them to think analyze …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *