If I ask my students “Why do we display work in our classroom?” answers might include: “So we can see what each other is doing.” “So we can show work that we’re proud of.” “So we can learn more about a topic.” “So that we have interesting things on the walls.” As their teacher, I might add that displays also help students reflect on their work, learn from each other’s work, and make the classroom beautiful.
I personaly, provide each class with a space on the wall of our english classroom, that belongs to them! I hang a colourful background paper and label it with the class name. At the risk of being institutionalized, I will admit that I have used actual levels and tape measures to perfect them .I also like hanging students’ work from a clothesline.
I have several “ bulletin boards” both in my classroom and outside it, in the corridors, now. Full of photos -to share our work in the class with other students, classes or parents- pen pals letters, photos and projects, news from our class, forthcoming events announcements, invitations to our english shows and so many more!
I make sure that my classroom displays consist mostly of work students have done themselves (along with a few essential informational pieces such as class rules, anchor charts, and reminders about classroom routines).
It’s not only walls that can be used as display surfaces! In my classroom there are more places, such as: the door, the ceiling ( mobiles), tables, boxes ,shelves, string washing lines -as I have already mentioned- the corridors and sometimes the…floor or the windows! I should also mention “another school”, since our projects are sent abroad and therefore displayed in another classroom! Additionaly, part of my students’ work is published in the school handmade magazine and this is very motivating indeed!
I suggest that, we should- together with our students – develop criteria for choosing work to display.
These criteria might include:
- The work shows our best efforts, not just perfect work.
- The work shows growth or improvement. (This may include displaying early drafts with later drafts.)
- We feel proud of the work.
- The work is important to us.
I firmly believe that, effective displays celebrate each piece of work and radiate with a sense of student pride. They highlight the individual pieces of work rather than the surrounding decoration.
My list of qualities that make a display effective:
Displays should be simple.
Displays should show what is most important in the work.
Decorations should fit with the piece of work and show it off.
Displays should include a label with the name of the student, the title of the work, and perhaps something about the work.
Displays should be neat.
Tips about displays:
Displays should have a meaningful connection to the curriculum. They should be effective tools for teaching and learning. This is particularly important when the holiday season approaches. Although there’s nothing wrong with seasonal displays, the material on display should go beyond simply marking a holiday. Instead the information should connect with, emerge from, and expand students’ knowledge about topics being studied.
Create displays that honor effort and not just perfectly mastered work.Displays should make every child feel valued regardless of his or her academic or artistic abilities. I avoid using grades, stickers, or marks on children’s work that will be displayed.
Keep displays fresh, useful, and uncluttered. Make sure that the children’s work is changed often enough to keep the displays relevant to the curriculum and keep them from getting “stale.” With limited space it is better to regularly rotate the children’s work than to crowd and clutter the area. I manage to do so, by having my students exchange their projects with their pen pals abroad!
Displaying student work is very important for motivation in a student-centered classroom.
Displaying student work sends several important messages to students, staff, and visitors:
- As teachers, we value what students do.
- This is the students’ classroom as much as the teacher’s.
- In this classroom, students share their work and learning with one another.
Students will naturally look at their own work more frequently than they’ll look at commercial pieces. It is their work, after all. Seeing their own work on display not only boosts students’ sense of belonging and significance in the room, but also helps them learn from their classmates and see a greater purpose behind their work. All of these things can help lead to greater academic engagement and deep, meaningful learning.