Bulletin Boards

Teacher Magazine has a piece on bulletin boards. I admit I resemble this remark a bit too much:

I love walking into a primary classroom and seeing all of the students’ work related to learning objectives. They are artistic, personalized, and appealing. On the other hand, when I go to middle and high schools, I am disappointed to see random posters stapled on the walls. Is that a reality or an unfair, broad generalization? I think the walls are an extension of teaching and learning, but there has to be an explicit connection made for students. They have to be a part of the product or the instruction. How much do kids get from posters hung by the teacher and left hanging?

My bulletin board has a Harry Potter poster, an old National Poetry Month poster I got free last year from English Journal, and some Beowulf résumés my students created probably back in October. In fact, they aren’t even my students anymore, as they have been transferred to another English teacher. It’s pretty sad.

I actually have had some good ideas for bulletin boards in the past. My two favorite ideas were both student-centered. Once I had students contribute a typed version of their favorite poem, and we had a poetry wall for National Poetry Month. Another time, students had book recommendations on the wall. I think both of these suggestions were mentioned in the article. One of the teachers in the article also mentions using cloth instead of paper, which is something I also do.

Bulletin boards are tough for secondary teachers. What suggestions do you have for bulletin boards in high school? What is the expectation regarding use of bulletin boards in your school/district?

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6 thoughts on “Bulletin Boards

  1. As a secondary teacher it is hard to keep the bulletin boards going. I have ample bulletin board space. I use one for Important Information–school announcements, scholarship info, and the like–and the other is a content related board. The content board is required by our district's evaluation instrument. We are also required to have student work displayed. While in theory this is great–the practice of getting the work up is difficult. Is it due to a lack of time? Lack of effort? Lack of material?

    In my case, when I have displayed student work in the past, it has something to do with the current unit. When I have had TA's in the past, I have them put the work up for me. The other problem for me, is keeping things anonymous (students must put names on backs of student work displayed and I usually never remember to have them do this!) and not having grades/marks posted on them. So, I create a project/assignment specifically for posting student work. The other issue I have is posting work that is less than as close to perfect as it could be. While we all need to learn from our mistakes, I think posted work should be as close to perfect as possible as this is considered an avenue of publication.

  2. When I was in HS, even in AP English, I think I would have found some of the projects I have my 4th graders do today inspiring and thought-provoking. And they make great bulletin boards. Have kids do a scrapbook page of a day in the life of a character from a book you are reading, or of their home or family as if they were that character. Have them make a collage using magazine pictures or create a timeline of events in a novel using illustrations at each key point. You can even simply have them illustrate their favorite part of the story.

  3. The classroom should be a mix of the teacher's personality (assuming they have one) and the students. I have no problem with teachers putting up some (think moderation) posters etc. that give visitors a glimpse into what makes the instructor tick. And student work is a must. Even imperfect student work brightens up the room. Trust me on that one…

  4. I love to put up a map (US or world) and use yarn as callouts to important places relevant to class.

    Great idea with cloth — I remember burlap on the bulletin boards when I was a kid — will have to keep an eye out this summer for interesting cloth!

  5. I always liked it when my bb were interactive, but I often ran out of prep time to deal with them at the secondary level. One year, I invited kids to cover the board with news and magazine articles and stuff from the net that "connected" to what we were studying in class. I've done graffiti boards before as well. Magnetic poetry (only I used velcro to attach) was popular too. The best part of all of these was that they could be left up for a long stretch of time….and the kids loved to interact with them.

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