Friday, April 27, 2012

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

No, I’m not referring to the Clint Eastwood Movie. This is something much more complicated than a 1960’s movie about gunslingers.  (You’re welcome Dad).

I’m talking about:

                                                                Bulletin Boards

The Good:
What a fantastic opportunity to show your creativity and pretend to be Martha Stewart. It’s your own personal wall mural, free to design in any fashion you desire. Highlight new vocabulary words, outline new themes and units, or display student work. The options are really quite endless. And regardless of how you create your bulletin board, it adds character, color, and visual stimulation to your Healthy Classroom Environment.

The Bad:
What a fantastic mural of education you have created. Surly your fellow staff members and students will compliment you on your creativity and artistic skills. They might even call you Martha. You step back, you admire, you enjoy, and you realize... you’re alone. Students and staff throw an occasional glance as they walk by. And during lessons, you appear to be attempting to land a plane in a tireless effort to refer students to the board as a reference tool. Sigh.

The Ugly:
Remind me again what is fantastic about bulletin boards? The planning, the finding time, the cutting, the gluing, the stapling, the taping, the printing, the rearranging. The standing on a chair to reach. The paper cuts. The, “Phew it’s finally finished! Oh great the unit is over, it needs to be changed again.” The contemplation of bribing your students with candy to do the work for you. (You know you’ve thought about it). 

While some of this post is sarcasm, let's be honest that there is a Good, a Bad, and an Ugly to creating bulletin boards.  

That is, until I stumbled upon the blog, Effortless Style and my heart skipped a beat. If blogs have halos, this blog is wearing one.

The specific post I found is a tutorial for a DIY No Sew Skirted Table (You’re welcome if you wanted to know how to do this as well). But what caught my eye was above the DIY Table –

A wall of clipboards.

Simple. Sophisticated. Seriously going to change your bulletin board creating life.

I love this idea as a classroom bulletin board and here’s why:

It is an absolute effortless method of displaying student work in your classroom.

Here is how I would use it:

Each student would have his or her own assigned clipboard. Since we know the benefits of allowing students to have control, students can decide where they want their clipboard placed, and what work they would like to proudly display. This is not based on grades – but based on student determined accomplishments.

I would have two separate clipboards for Group Display, controlled by the teacher. This is where I would display outstanding work students completed in groups. Particularly those activities that would be helpful to display as a reference; for example, a vocabulary word and definition alongside an image. This will also motivate students to work hard and cooperatively in groups to earn a spot on the wall. 

The Good:
This idea still allows you to create a visual that can display student work, or whatever it is that you desire. Not happy with the drab color of the boards? Place a background and boarder behind the boards. Or allow students to create decorative nametags to place above them. And don’t forget, the student work will add color and character as well.

Say Goodbye to the Bad and the Ugly:
There is no more channeling of your inner Martha Stewart, or incessant redesign now that your students are making the updates. And the occasional glances and ignores? I don’t think so. Students will enjoy visiting the board to see their own work and the work of their classmates. Don’t be surprised when you hear conversations around who is displaying what. Now when staff and even parents are in your room, they will be interested to see what the students were proud of and decided to share. And this time, when you step back and admire, your students will be standing there with you.

Truth be told, this cannot be the only bulletin board in your classroom. So while you may always experience the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, I hope this has at least saved you a few paper cuts.

And be sure to check out Effortless Style!

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