Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thoughts on Displays and Student Involvement

Decorating for Christmas always makes me think of a bulletin board that I created during my Junior student teaching. It was around the holidays and I used characters from different books and television shows of the time. I put them in a winter scene and included the heading Happy Holidays from all your favorites. I used the Peanuts characters, the Berenstain Bears, Alf (the Alien Life Form) and the Chipmunks. I remember the reaction of the students when they first came in the next morning and saw what I had done. That was when I learned that you could use bulletin boards to catch students’ attentions and get them thinking about a topic. 

I have made bulletin boards as all teachers do, to stress topics in all subjects. But sometimes I have gone a little overboard with my bulletin board displays. I once made a front porch out of cardboard that stuck out of the wall. The front porch went along with my theme on Grandparents and took up a quarter of the hallway in front of my room. The students learned all about older people and we even "adopted” Grandparents from the Retirement home down the street. When we did some writing on the topic later in the unit, their work was displayed on the "Porch".

 Later the same year, in the same area of the hallway, I built "Poet-trees" from paper, cardboard and tree branches. The students then wrote poems that were to be hung from the trees in the hallway. It was the first time I ever had students competing to write the “Best”; so that they could have them hung in the hallway.  

 Another time, I used pictures of the kids’ faces and put them on bodies that they have traced and cut out that were decorated as Colonial Americans. Before they "dressed" their colonists, they had to know what kind of clothing they would wear and why. The next year when I was doing this unit with the class, we built our own Miniature Colonial Village (made from oven and refrigerator boxes) and the students all researched the building that they were putting in our village. Making these buildings turned out to be a really great activity, because before they would declare their buildings complete, they made each detail perfect. The students later understood more about colonial life than their counterparts in another 5th grade class. 

I find it funny that many teachers don’t enjoy doing Bulletin Boards or Displays. I find them an outlet for some of my creativity and I still enjoy setting up Displays and Bulletin boards for my students that catch their eye and get their attention. If I can make them think or act by viewing these displays, that’s even better.

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