advice for students

Classroom Displays – theory and practice 1

Classroom displays advice to students

I am occasionally contacted by students, teachers or TAs, who want to read about some of the theories that underpin our use of classroom displays in schools. These are books that explore the reasons behind our use of displays rather than give us ideas for making them. There isn’t a massive amount of current research available but I have some standard advice I hand out to students and I thought the start of the new academic year might be a good moment to share it.

Classroom Displays Books

First, great, but you could struggle to find it as it’s out of print:
Display in the Classroom: Principles, Practice and Learning Theory (Paperback)
by Hilary Cooper (Author), Phil Hegarty (Author), Penny Hegarty (Author), Neil Simco (Author)
Publisher: David Fulton Publishers Ltd (23 May 1996)ISBN-10: 185346404 ISBN-13: 978-1853464041
This one actually looks at the theories but be aware it’s 10 years out of date!


Primary Practicals for CPD: Rules of Display – The Essential Guide to Nursery and Primary Classroom Displays (The Completely Practical Development Series)
By Lynn Taylor

These mention displays in passing:

Chambers, A (1995). The reading environment: How adults help children enjoy books.. York: Stenhouse.

Johnstone (1994). Teaching Modern Languages at Primary School Approaches and Implications . Scotland: SCRE.
Pgs 34-6
Smith, A & Call, N (2002) The ALPS Approach, Bodmin, MPG Books LTD.
Pgs 194 -199

Anything by Reggio Emilia
but you’ll have to really root around to find some direct relevance.

Lella Gandini, just about anything she’s written – she is cited in Tarr’s paper but she’s really talking about the Reggio approach.

Tarr,P (2004). Consider the Walls. Journal of the National Association for the Education of Young Children
Theory Into Practice
2007, Vol. 46, No. 1, Pages 40-47

Children and Place: Reggio Emilia’s Environment As Third Teacher
Teresa Strong-Wilson
Department of Integrated Studies in Education, McGill University
Julia Ellis, Faculty of Education, University of Alberta.

If these walls could speak: reading displays of primary children’s work

Pat Thomson, Christine Hall, Lisa Russell
Ethnography and Education
Vol. 2, Iss. 3, 2007

This one is pure gold & actually research based. You’ll need library access.


The first thing a visitor notices when entering Hollytree primary school is the art-work displayed on every wall. This paper, based on a three-year ethnographic study of the school, mobilizes field notes and interview and photographic data to probe the meanings of this visual ‘display’. We argue that the walls (re)produce and promote normative meanings of ‘good work’, the ‘good student’, the ‘good teacher’ and the ‘good school’, which serve both internal and external purposes. They are also a means of promoting an inclusive culture which, while true of arts activities, may not always be the case in mainstream classes. In addition, the school walls support aspects of the school timetable of collective work, and also constitute resources for children to construct narratives about their collective and individual histories in the school.

Also try:

Students’ views of environments for learning from the primary to the secondary school
Pam Pointon, ,
Homerton College, Cambridge, CB2 2PH, England, UK
International Journal of Educational Research
Volume 33, Issue 4, 2000, Pages 375–382
Research on transfer has alerted us to the anxieties that students experience as they move from a smaller school to a bigger school, and how the sudden differences in space, size, and their own position within a large organization can affect their identities as learners. Drawing on interviews with students in their first year in secondary school, this chapter examines the differences that students see as important in moving from the primary school to the secondary school. Three topics are discussed: freedom of movement, seating, and classroom display.

(There is a pdf of this one available online – google it!)

Look out for art theory and visual learning stuff too.My best advice is to join the Classroom Displays flickr group, look at other people’s displays, decide what you like and try to analyse what’s good and bad about it, post your own efforts and ask for feedback. Get involved!!!
I write a regular classroom displays column in Learning Support Magazine that will help with the basics. You might like to subscribe, aimed at TAs, it’s a really useful magazine for anyone in schools.There’s also my usefulwiki site classroom displays workshopAnd of course the Classroom Displays bookshop

Your favourite classroom displays theory books

If you know of any other good theory books please add them in the comments. Let’s see if we can put together a really comprehensive list of classroom displays books.