When children walk into a classroom on the first day of school, their eyes move everywhere, taking in all the elements of their new environment. That excitement wanes as the weeks wear on and the same familiar four walls become booooooring. Changing up your bulletin boards is one of the quickest ways to restimulate those minds. But even the most colorful, artistic of boards will lose their luster if they are one-sided and don't invite interaction.
Last week I shared with you my thoughts and examples of what I consider to be truly meaningful and stimulating bulletin boards. I went through my own stack of ideas that have been successful over the years and also tapped into the extraordinary resources that are my fellow teachers. Please take a look at "Hands-On Bulletin Boards: Focus on Literacy" for my roundup of boards featuring literacy topics from my classroom and those of my colleagues. Now, let's look at some fun, thought-provoking boards with a spotlight on quotes, vocabulary, and more.
Visible Thinking Boards
Interactive Research Board
Mike Cottone, a fifth grade teacher, uses the visual thinking strategy “Peel the Fruit” to facilitate student research in his classroom. Student thinking is visible, and the information collected and created by students is then used to write research papers. (Click HERE to familiarize yourself with the “Peel the Fruit” Routine.)
Here are the steps the students follow:
Expert groups are formed based on similar topics.
Students form the bull's-eye.
The outside of the circle is collected. This is prior knowledge students can access about their topic without doing any research.
The pieces of the pie are filled in. These are questions/wonderings students have about the topic. The questions are answered through research.
Based on the research, the center theme or core is identified. This becomes the thesis statement.
Students write independent research papers. The pieces of pie become the body paragraphs, and the center is the introduction paragraph.
Follow Mike Cottone on Twitter: @IamMikeCottone
Interactive “Chalk Talk” Board
A chalk talk is a visible thinking routine that allows students to have a conversation without talking. It makes students’ thinking “visible” and allows every student the chance to share his or her ideas. Students respond to a question by writing down their own thoughts and responding to each other’s ideas on butcher paper. No actual talking is allowed! I had a wall in my classroom where the chalk talks were posted, but the chalk talks were never considered “complete.” Students are encouraged to continue adding their ideas about the questions that are posed as they dig deeper in the corresponding unit of study. It is fun to see students’ ideas and opinions change over time!
This photo was taken before any words were added, but the goal is to add interesting words (“wow” words) to the wall that students can refer to during writing workshop. When I am reading books aloud to the class, I will stop and add words that I think will help students spice up their own writing. Students can also submit words from their own books they are reading to be added to our “Wonderful Word Collection.”
Fourth grade teachers Lora Herbert and Lindsey Keegan maintain an interactive vocab board in their classrooms. At the beginning of the year, the teacher adds vocab words to the board. The words can come from books that are read aloud, or they can be powerful words the teacher connects to character education. Once a new word is introduced and added to the board, if a student finds the word in a book he is reading, uses it accurately in writing, or says it naturally in conversation, the student gets to add a sticker to the word poster on the bulletin board. As the year progresses, students are asked to submit their own powerful vocabulary words to the board.
Fourth grade teacher Lora begins the year by adding her favorite quotes to the class quote board using chalk markers. As the year goes on, students are encouraged to look for powerful quotes in the books they read and submit them to Lora to be added to the quote board for the class to discuss and remember.
Follow Lora on Twitter: @msherbertteach
Interactive Geography Boards
Reading Takes us Places!
As students read books throughout the school year, they add tacks to a United States map any time the name of a state or city is mentioned in their book. Each student is assigned a different color or shape of tack, and the tacks are kept in the labeled drawer organizer pictured above.
Mystery Location Boards
When my class is traveling around the different regions of the United States on our U.S. Region tour, I choose a city from a region we have already visited each week and write clues for the students to help them guess the mystery city. The clues are based on the facts students learned in class during our tour stops. I also trace a puzzle pattern on the back of a large photo of that city and add a new puzzle piece or two each day to the board. Students submit their guesses in the box during the week.
Top Teaching Blogger Genia Connell wrote a post titled, "Critical Thinking Activities for Fast Finishers." In her post, she shared this interactive bulletin board where she gives students a hint as to where she is, and they strategically use technology or a reference book to find the correct answer. When they are studying latitude and longitude in social studies, her students come up with daily challenges. They give the latitude and longitude of a well-known landmark for their classmates to find.
Interactive Math Boards
What’s the Answer?
In that same critical thinking post, Genia shared an interactive math board where students come up with their own questions or number stories based on an answer given by Genia. It promotes critical thinking and reinforces the fact that there is not just one “right” way to get an answer!
Third grade teacher Kylie Wood has a similar board in her classroom, but she has students write their answers in a box on the dry erase board that corresponds to their class number.
Math Practice and Review Board
One section of the magnetic dry erase board in my classroom is transformed into interactive math board that changes on a regular basis to reflect the new skills we learn in each unit. Each day a new student has the job of "Captain Math." It is this student's responsibility to complete parts of the math activities on the math board during morning work time. For example, if Captain Math chooses to do a "frames and arrows" activity, he or she might not fill in the rule. Instead, he will just add enough numbers for students in the class to determine the rule and also help add the missing numbers. Before we start our math workshop, “Captain Math” gets to lead a five-minute lesson where he enlists help from classmates to answer the problems he set up. Once I got a Smart Board in my classroom, this routine shifted to a digital format.
Interactive Character Education Board
Have Your Students Filled a Bucket Today?
We are a bucket-filling classroom! When one student feels that another student has filled his or her bucket, that student fills out a card to describe the thoughtful act. The acts of kindness are read aloud, and then pom-poms (or “popcorn” when we were doing a Hollywood Theme) are added to the students’ buckets. Read more about how bucket-filling works in my classroom!
I hope between these two posts on hands-on bulletin boards, you find at least one that you can use in your classroom that will engage and delight your students.
On another note, I have the pleasure of inviting you to use this special discount coupon for the Scholastic Store that has been designed just for the Top Teaching bloggers' friends, family, and, of course, readers of the Top Teaching blog!