Bulletin boards are not just for show, they can be interactive and informative too.
By Ann Whittemore
No classroom would feel complete without at least one bulletin board to display student work or learning concepts. Bulletin boards are commonly used as ways to show off student work or convey class information, but they can be so much more. Bulletin boards should be educational, fun, and in alignment with the content that is being taught in the classroom. Here are some ideas to get your classroom looking great on the first day of school.
The Different Types of Bulletin Boards
A bulletin board can provide information, motivation, and assistance to both you and your students. Bulletin boards generally fall into two main categories: ones that are seasonal and ones that can be used year-round. Year-round boards usually display content that does not change like a calendar, schedule, or timeline. Seasonal boards, on the other hand, are changed periodically and may be related to a theme or concept that reflects the curriculum being covered in class. Underneath both of these categories are several varieties of bulletin boards: teacher-made, student-made, collaborative, informational, interactive, and decorative.
A Blank Board is an Opportunity
A blank bulletin board in the classroom gives your students the opportunity to create the type of classroom that they would like to spend time in. During the first week of school, you can tell students that they are going to be placed in groups of four or five, and that each group will be responsible for designing and decorating one section of a bulletin board; each group can be given a theme or concept that they are supposed to convey. This activity does several things: it builds relationships between students, allows them to be active participants in the classroom, and lets you observe their interactions, motivation, and potential behaviors. A sense of community is an important part of a healthy learning environment.
Bulletin Boards and Goal Setting
One way to use a bulletin board is to track student progress. You can design a bulletin board with a game board, doors, or some other interactive activity. As students reach educational goals, they can move two spaces on the game board, or ‘unlock’ a secret door. This is a great way to motivate students to memorize math facts, complete a poem about a particular subject, or meet a reading goal. Students will be able to see the progress they’ve made, which will give them a sense of accomplishment. However, this should always be a positive experience. If you feel that displaying students’ individual progress might make them feel self-conscious, adjust your board accordingly.
Let the Bulletin Board Teach Students
Information about synonyms and other parts of speech are often displayed on classroom bulletin boards. A way to make this type of board more interactive is to have students add to the information throughout the year. For example, you can have a board with a heading that says “Synonyms made my writing more interesting” and two subheadings, with one that says “I could say…” and the other that says “Or, I could say this…” Under the ‘I could say’ column could be a list of common words such as happy, sad, and ugly. Under the ‘Or I could say’ column students could provide a string of synonyms such as exuberant, elated, despondent, or repulsive. Students should be encouraged to add to the board whenever they come up with new synonyms. One could apply this to other parts of speech; students could add examples of metaphors, similes, or onomatopoeia.
Research-Based Bulletin Boards
Research-based boards are great to use in place of learning centers. Every few months or so you can put up a new set of questions regarding a particular topic relevant to your classroom curriculum. For example, during Black History Month you could display pictures, letters, speeches, and interesting facts about influential African Americans. You could also provide task cards, or research questions and materials, for students to use to find out more about a person or event. This idea could be used for Women’s History Month, President’s Day, for research on space exploration, explorers, or inventors. This type of board could also be set up in the form of a mystery, in which the students would have to ‘hunt’ down clues to determine an answer.
Interactive Bulletin Boards
There are many ways to make a bulletin board interactive. For example, you can set up a bulletin board with pockets containing numbers on one side, and several math sentences (or equations) in the center. Have about four to eight ‘sentences’ available for students to solve. At the beginning of each week, place numbers in different pockets in the equation, so students will have to move numbers around and use their math skills to determine missing components of the math sentence. They will be finished once all eight equations are complete. Perhaps the students who finish all eight equations get a sticker or something even better, like EXTRA CREDIT! What follows are some more bulletin board ideas.