"Best Practices" dictate that you use your bulletin boards. Too often, teachers evaluate each other by how clever their bulletin boards are, especially at the beginning of the school year. Many teachers dip into their own pockets and buy bulletin boards already made by E. . . . Personally, I don't buy bulletin boards. First, I was an art major, and I can draw. But secondly, bulletin boards offer opportunities to:
- Display Student Work (as models of acceptable or good quality school product.)
- Support Instruction
- Reinforce desired behaviors
Display Student Work
Posting student work offers two important impacts on classroom management:
- Reinforce and motivate students by recognizing their best work product.
- Model the sort of work that you want students to create.
"Star" Student Work. I dedicated a section of board to post good quality work each week when I taught second grade.
Project Board I really like project based learning, and believe one way to keep kids excited about learning and fully engaged is to have special projects. In self-contained programs, I would recommend rolling from subject to subject: after a big reading project, you start a big science project, or a big inter-subject project, like planning a house or a trip, including making budget (math,) finding a flight (research) and writing an imaginary journal (language arts.) One board could be the "project board" and turn over every time a new project comes up.
I will be rolling my "getting acquainted" board (Back to School) over to my project board for the school year.
Student of the Week. One way to support self-esteem, help students learn about each other and even to do a little public speaking is through a "student of the week." Choose them randomly rather than with any reflection of their behavior (don't decide on Monday that Johnny can no longer be student of the week because of a bad recess.) Post their picture, a format for each child to tell about favorite foods, television shows, sports, etc. Include some of their work, or if your students portfolio fork, have them choose some papers or project they are particularly proud of.
To Support Learning
Student Boards: Put students in charge of creating a board or boards to go with topics you are studying. Make creating the board (brainstorming, choosing what to find pictures of) a class project. You can have a few students responsible for individual boards, or you can have all students participate by doing research. Teach them how to right click on images online to save them in a file, and then show them how to insert into a MicroSoft Word document to print. You will need to check your school's policy for colored output-hopefully you have access to at least one color printer. Personally, I'm willing to take documents home on a flash drive and print with my cartridge.
Word Walls. From kindergarten to graduation, a word wall with important words/terms to learn should be a part of regular instruction. For social studies, you may want to review new terms both as they come up and merely as you are reviewing for assessment. I will be involving students in creating the board background (our first will use an undersea theme with sponge painting.)
High frequency words should also be part of word walls, especially with struggling readers. You might want to cluster words with similar endings or with the same irregularity.
Interactive Boards Boards that are puzzles or provide students with practice can be a fun way to use some wall space. A free website, Bulletin Board Ideas, provides some fun ideas for interactive boards.
Reinforce Desired Behavior
Your boards can also function to put individual students on notice, either a color chart, or color coded cards.