I have always enjoyed updating my display boards. There are several reasons for this, firstly to showcase the work my students have completed over the course of the year, to create an attractive environment for the students and visitors to my classroom and lastly and rather selfishly I spend a rather large amount of time in my classroom; I have to look at the displays for most of the day so why should I not look at something that I find attractive and take pride in? However, had I really taken into consideration the educational value of my display boards? In all honestly it had not even crossed my mind.
In recent years, I have also taken charge of most of the departmental notice boards, mostly this is because I am a bit of a control freak but also having done some research; I was inspired to create display boards which had a more educational focus.
Displaying students work
The more traditional method of using display boards to show case exceptional work is still important. It sets the standard to which you want the students to aspire to and provides model work with which you can use to explain the task to new students. You will often find me standing on my benches using my display work when I set homework. It allows me to set a bench mark for which I expect the students to emulate. How are students supposed to know what you expect of them if you do not show them? Even the best students are not mind readers, making use of model work sets clear expectations and what better use of a display board!
A ‘what does good work look like wall?’
For the last two years as a department we have created a departmental ‘what does good work look like?’ wall. It is not a fixed display and evolves and changes as the year progresses. Any teacher can use the board and pin to it any work that deserves showcasing to the school. I think this has several purposes. It show cases and models exceptional work as explained above, it enables comparison of work between the classes and teachers and can be used as a positive reinforcement. This is because it is a privilege to get a piece of work on to the board which showcases the best work produced in the entire department.
What is Biology board?
During one summer I had an interesting conversation with a parent of one of my friends. We were discussing if we ever taught what the study of biology actually is. We definitely teach biology but had I ever actually asked my students what they thought biology was, well no I had not. For that reason for the last few years I have asked my Year 7s to find me a picture of what they think the study of biology comprises of and to write down why they picked the picture. I find this very enlightening and enables me to gage their knowledge from the very get go.
The biology star board
As in all schools we have a positive reward system, however, this does not always enable us to celebrate all the achievements that we in Biology would like to celebrate. This year, I have instigated a ‘Biology Star’ board. We award stars for achievements that we would like to celebrate; this could be volunteering to take part in an assembly, getting top marks in a test or something smaller like a massive improvement in effort or playing a more active role in class discussion. This again is positively reinforcing something achieved in class but celebrating it on a departmental level. I have on many occasions caught students standing and looking at the names on the stars and the reasons that they were given. Even when I informed a Year 13 student they had achieved a star they were intrigued enough to ask permission to go and see it!
Another idea that we have used to try to create interest and to get the students reading the information on the boards are animal, plant and biologist of the week fact files. As the boards are updated regularly the students take a more active interest in them especially as they constantly evolving. I have also been involved in creating a working revision wall, which provides students with resources that they can take if they feel that they require that resource.