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Ideas for Decorating the Secondary English Classroom!

wall post collage

I don’t know about you guys, but I am completely addicted to Pinterest and so jealous of our elementary counterparts with AMAZING room ideas!  If you are not already following Secondary Solutions on Pinterest, check us out soon.   This year, I decided to step it up on the decoration front in a way that is not only pinterest pretty, but also completely functional for teaching secondary English and the Common Core. I teach primarily American Literature so my ideas for this post surround the idea of teaching literature along a chronological, historical path in US History, but you could do something similar with any literature class.   I’d love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, and classroom decorating tips in the comment section below! 


On one wall, I created a massive timeline of important quotes and events in US History.  The quotes are on the far left in chronological order and include important moments like “Give me liberty or give me death” (Patrick Henry), “Suffrage is the pivital right” (Susan B Anthony), “Mr. Gorbachev tear down that wall” (Ronald Reagan), “Students must have initiative; they should not be imitators” (Cesar Chavez), and more. I tried to line them up with the units of study and the values of my students. 


With this wall prominently in place, I can refer to it when teaching literature.  For example, when we are reading The Grapes of Wrath we can easily look at how history informs the novel.  The 19th amendment gives women the right to vote in 1920; the stock market crashes in 1929, the new deal begins in 1933. How do these historical events impact the characters and conflicts?  


I created a “You are Here” arrow that has velcro on the back so we can move it along the timeline as the literature progresses for easy reference. I lucked out that my wall has carpet type material so velcro works, but you could also use painter’s tape or putty to keep it up.  IMGP2465

At the top, I made larger poster board markers for each of our units so that students could also see the big picture at a glance. IMGP2469

Under the American timeline, I included a section about the (very limited) history of the rest of the world.  This helps students to understand the interconnectedness of the world’s history.  For example, when we are reading political commentaries by Dr. Seuss, we can look at what is going on in the rest of the world that is inspiring his critique.   


For many of the events on the timeline, I included iconic pictures for visual inspiration and also because I teach the rhetoric of images as part of my AP English language class.  IMGP2439

On the side opposite of the quotes, I have a white board with my three tips of the week.  These are general messages that I like to get out to students but don’t have time for a whole lesson on.  I usually include something practical or school schedule related, some type of idiom or maxim, and a grammar point.  I spend about 5 minutes somewhere in the week talking about them.  IMGP2459

Finally, I got this awesome little organizer from 31 recently.  I use it to keep my calendar, display bulletins, hold emergency lesson plans, and organize papers/scantrons.  I love that it is beautiful and functional at the same time! 

Have any suggestions, comments, or ideas for us?  We’re all ears! 

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29 Responses to Ideas for Decorating the Secondary English Classroom!

  1. Juli says:

    Fabulous ideas! My room looks better than ever this year, and I owe it to Pinterest and Secondary Solutions! I use a pocket wall chart similar to yours where I clips sheets letting students know what the evenings at-home study will be, and I put the day’s handouts in folders behind the clipped homework announcement. Seems to be working really well.

    I’m going to try your timeline idea for my Brit Lit and American Lit classes. Looking forward to seeing more ideas!

  2. Joan Price says:

    Thanks for the share! Really love all these ideas :) Since I recently got some new school furniture in my classroom I really wanted to some how incorporate it into my decorating scheme. Any cute ideas?

  3. Amanda says:

    This timeline looks so cool!
    Any chance you have a word document with the events you put on your timeline that I could use?

    • Amanda,
      I just looked through my files at home and I don’t see it. I will check on Monday on my school computer and when/if I find it I will be happy to email it to you at the email address you left here ;) Have a great day!

      • Devon says:

        Hi there,
        As I was reading/looking/already getting excited to decorate my classroom next year I came across your idea and was WOWed. I had the very same question about the list of events that you used. What an awesome way to link English and History together for the kids. Thanks for this idea to make my new room wonderful next year!

  4. Faith says:

    Hi from Australia! Love these fabulous ideas for decorating a Secondary classroom. When I started teaching 2 years ago (I started late in life as I am now 41!) I was surprised how boring some of the rooms I was contracted to teach in were. Being given my own room for all my English and Humanities classes this year (our school years starts in January), I have scoured Pinterest and found some brilliant ideas. Thanks for sharing; as I progress I will post my creations.

  5. Chelsea says:

    I’m a dual licensed English/Social Studies teacher! I absolutely love this! Next school year I will be teaching American Literature and would love to use a version of this! If possible could you also email me the Word file?

    Thanks so much,

  6. Anita Ross says:

    I absolutely love your timeline and am in the process of creating something similar in my room. Would it be possible for you to email me your events as well? It would sure save me a lot of time if I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel from scratch!

  7. Chelsea and Anita,
    Thanks! I’ll email it to you tonight ;)

  8. Kristen says:

    I love your timeline! It is such a teachable tool and a wonderful reference for the students and teacher alike! This is my first year teaching 8th grade ELA/History, and I would LOVE to incorporate something like this in my classroom! Is there any chance you have these headings and events listed somewhere. If so, it would be a huge help if you are willing to share! Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Tiffany says:

    Hi! Any chance you could email a copy of the word file used to create the timeline?? It is awesome, wow, so creative! I would love to have something like that in my classroom. Thanks!

  10. Jana says:

    WOW! best timeline idea ever! I’m going to borrow some of this for my 4th grade social studies an science classroom this year. I think it is so important for students to see this as a wise teacher once told me that the world is not divided into subjects. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Kristen says:

    I abesolutly love your interactive timeline! It us such a great teaching tool. I am starting my first year teaching US History and would love to create something like this in my classroom. I was wondering if you have the events you used for your timeline saved anywhere. If so would you be willing to share them? It would be a huge help. Thank you for the inspiration!!

  12. Kristen and Tiffany,
    Thanks! I will email it to you today. ;)

  13. Dee says:

    So cool! I love your timeline and creativity! I’m so inspired. If at all possible, would you be able to share your document with me, please?

    Thank you!

  14. Kelsey Pichel says:

    I was browsing Pinterest for some classroom ideas as I am a first year teacher this upcoming year! Of all the ideas I came across, I definitely love your interactive timeline best! What a great way to incorporate both history and English and get the students to make connections! I’d love to also incorporate this in my classroom, any chance you could send me the word document also? Best of luck this year! :)

  15. Pippa says:

    Love this. Please could you email me the documents? How do I follow you on pintrest?

  16. Lora says:

    Hi Emily! This will be my first year teaching American Literature, and I see several others have requested your file for your timeline. Would you be willing to share it one more time, please???! You are truly inspirational!

  17. Jessica says:

    Great job on creating a point of interest, both visually and using relevancy. I not only teach American Lit, but also British Lit. I have a new room this year and would love to have a wall for each of these timelines; it is a fabulous idea.
    May I also get a copy of your timeline? It is just perfect for what we all need in our classrooms. Thanks!

  18. Heather McGregor says:

    Whoa! I love your timeline. I had started putting one together a few years back but never finished. I would really love to have your list of events if you don’t mind sharing it again. I am always jealous of the elementary teachers’ cool rooms, too. I teach AP Language and plan to go fully decorated in my room this year- school colors in polka dots!

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