AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE CLASSROOM CURRICULUM
Every year I receive numerous requests for bulletin board ideas from our readers, so I thought it would be a good idea to start the year with some basic bulletin board concepts.
Bulletin boards can be basically divided into four distinct categories:
- Informational Boards
- Philosophical Boards
- Curricular Boards
- Show-off Boards
Informational boards are those devoted to given schedules, procedures, and the dreaded class rules.
Most of these boards are very straight-forward, but the rules charts that seem to plague every classroom, needs some comment.
Your rules chart presents your students with the atmosphere of your classroom–unfortunately, most of them are negative rules. Here are some examples, and the possible reaction in a student’s head:
NO HITTING, PUSHING, FIGHTING, RUNNING (The teacher thinks that we’re going to act up.)
SIT SILENTLY IN YOUR SEAT AND RAISE YOUR HAND (The teacher is the dictator here and/or we’re being treated like little kids.)
Whereas this was extremely basic, you can get the idea. I recommend that if you need to have rules posted, they be positive rules, acknowledging the students’ common sense. Some examples:
RESPECT EVERYONE IN THIS ROOM
RESPECT EVERYTHING IN THIS ROOM
RESPECT THE WORDS (for a Language Arts class)/NUMBERS (for a math class)/LIFE (for a biology class)/MUSIC/ART/etc.
Subsequent classroom discussions can go into what “respect” really means, based on that particular class, with those particular students, at that age. In that way, all of the “negative” rules can be discussed without being posted in front of their faces all year!
These types of boards usually contain commercially produced posters with sayings that make the students “feel good.” Try not to use those that are overly corny–especially if the kids are older!
Posters with special messages are often effective. One of my favorites is a colorful poster called “How to be an Artist”. It has short phrases such as…splash through puddles…take naps…etc. Another really good one is “All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” These type of posters get the students thinking, and give overly good feelings after reading them
This is my favorite type of board. Your bulletin boards are excellent opportunities to cover material that you do not have time to cover in your regular classroom curricula. This could be different subjects of interest, or supplemental material.
An example of this comes from when I used to teach early American history. When I covered the U.S. Constitution, I posted a completely cut-up LIFE Magazine from 1989. They published a Constitutional Bicentennial edition all about the signers, history of the document, amendments that failed, and what life was like in the United States at that time. I cut out every interesting article I could find (I hadbought two copies for front and back), and posted articles on a couple of bulletin boards–all information that I would never have time to cover in the class. The articles were short, and the pictures were interesting. The students loved it. Bulletin Boards are great educational tools that are often not used as such.
By far the greatest use of Bulletin Boards, especially in the elementary grades, is to show off the students’ work. Whereas this is great for ONE or TWO boards, it’s also very damaging to many of the students–and the teacher is rarely aware of it. Next time you post your students’ work, do the following classroom self-esteem check:
A. Look around the classroom at the various student work that you have displayed. COUNT how many pieces of work come from:
- ABOVE AVERAGE STUDENTS (ACADEMICALLY)
- AVERAGE STUDENTS
- BELOW AVERAGE STUDENTS
B. In the three categories that you counted, where is the work displayed?
- PROMINENCE IN CLASSROOM (front wall, back wall, etc.)
- POSITION (center of display, outer edge)
C. How many of your students have NO work displayed at all? How many have more than THREE pieces of work displayed?
A student’s self esteem is influenced more than you think by something as simple as work displayed on the bulletin boards.
Hopefully this will give you some ideas as you complete the bulletin boards in your classroom. If you have any specific ideas for interesting bulletin boards, please send them to me. I will be running a number of Bulletin Board Ideas in this Topic of the Week in the next weeks.
DR. SCOTT MANDEL
PACOIMA MIDDLE SCHOOL
LOS ANGELES, CA