Classroom Walls, Posters, and Charts
Your classroom environment should be strategically planned with the ultimate goal of learning in mind. There is a real art to creating a dynamic classroom environment—one that supports learning, is fun and engaging, and yet is neat, orderly, and purposeful. However, you don’t have to be an artist to provide an appealing space for your students.
- Check with the school office for the policy on hanging posters and charts on the walls. What is—or, more important, what isn’t—allowed?
- Sticky putty is an excellent way to hang posters without leaving a residue or ruining the paint.
- Purchase grade-level–appropriate charts and posters to display on the walls and closet doors (if allowed).
- Have students work in cooperative groups to create theme-based posters for display on the walls (for example, erupting volcanoes, the water cycle, the rainforest, the food pyramid).
A word wall is a chart or poster with specific words that relate to and support learning of a particular skill or content area. They can be powerful learning tools in the classroom.
- Use word walls as living and interactive tools for learning.
- Encourage students to actively engage with word walls.
- Introduce new words of the week.
- Build on students’ understanding of how words work.
- Use word walls as a reference for current units being studied.
- Use word walls during writing projects as a primary spelling resource.
- Have several ongoing word walls in the classroom, each with a different focus, including the following:
- Weekly spelling words
- Seasonal words
- Key vocabulary for a theme or unit
- Word study (for example, verbs, adjectives, compound words, editing rules)
- Types of organization for word walls could include the following:
- Pocket chart—Use words for spelling, vocabulary, word study for the week, or a theme or unit. Write the words on index “word” cards. This allows you to change them, move them around, and turn them over.
- Chart paper— To develop the list, write relevant words on chart paper as students make suggestions. These words can be used for a specific time period (a day, a week, a month) or for as long as you’re working with a certain theme. The word wall can be stored and revisited throughout the year.
- Bulletin board—Designate an entire bulletin board for use as a word wall (or perhaps multiple smaller word walls). Words can be added to this word wall throughout the school year. Each new word can be a permanent addition, or early words can be replaced with new additions as students master the words.
For a powerful cooperative group activity, groups of two to four students work together to create posters for display in the classroom.
- List the desired components for students to include in their posters (that is, establish a rubric).
- Discuss design and layout with the class.
- Have students get approval of a newsprint mock-up of the poster before they create the final poster on good paper.
- Have students in lower grades use crayons.
- Have students in upper grades use colored pencils for small detailed areas and markers for larger areas.
- Display posters to create a student-centered classroom environment.
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