Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Bulletin Boards and Wall Space: Teacher Tips

Do you put up bulletin boards or use the wall space in your classroom ? In the junior high where I teach, it is pretty much expected. But in visiting other classrooms on occasion, I notice the elementary classrooms often use just about every available inch of any wall space, and in some high school classrooms, there is almost nothing up on the walls. I always thought having materials related to the class or classes taught in that room was something expected and necessary. In my classroom, I try to use my wall space to display visual materials for the unit we are currently studying.

So, where does this visual material come from? On my walls, there are usually a smorgasbord of commercially produced posters, homemade posters and copies of student works from past years of teaching the unit. Teachers can spend a lot of their own money buying bulletin board material for their classrooms. Here's a tip for you new / beginning teachers out there: Borrow stuff from veteran colleagues and MAKE YOUR OWN. When I began teaching full-time and had my own classroom, I did not have much to put up on the walls or much money to buy such stuff. But, the school where I taught had many old, 'discarded' or damaged history and science textbooks that were not being used and were eventually going to get thrown away. Many of these books had great color pictures that could be clipped out, glued onto construction paper and laminated to produce posters. They were not as fancy at the professionally produced ones, but they were functional and my students could learn from them. When I was teaching life science, I used to include questions from the wall displays on rotating stations activities. I haven't done it as often in my history classes, but a rotating station activity using desks for some stations and the wall displays works well (and helps spread the kids out a bit more).

Many of these old, damaged, discards books also had short, informative sections that were useful for using with kids when they had finished their work and needed something else to do that was both educational and worth a few points extra credit (kind of like the SRA cards I have access to when I was in elementary school....they had a couple of paragraphs to read and several questions to answer; a great short reading comprehension activity). Over the years, I have also found some great 'black and white' maps that work well in creating map activities for my students (because they reproduce so well on the photocopier or Rizo machines).

I have also found it useful to collect some of the chapters from old textbooks to use for either 'lower ability' or 'higher ability' students. There is a use for old, damaged or discards textbooks. Do any of you have any other ideas for using old, damaged or discarded textbooks ? I'd love to hear your ideas!

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