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Purposeful Bulletin Boards; a Back to School Strategic Plan for your Boards

PURPOSEFUL BULLETIN BOARDS

It’s that time of year again when borders, paper, staples, and glue guns are used in abundance. If you’re like me, you want your Bulletin Boards to be something pleasant to look at. You’ve probably already pinterested yourself to death looking for ways to spruce up your boards. The focus of this post however, is not about the cutesy or the beautiful.

It is my belief that Bulletin Boards should be used as a teaching tool. Of course, they can still be cute and beautiful, but that is secondary to their purpose. It also doesn’t matter what grade level or subjects you teach, your boards can be purposeful.

I have come up with a couple strategic questions that I ask myself when planning my Boards to make sure that they fit the criteria of being a “Purposeful Bulletin Board”. I also want to make sure my classroom bulletin boards are as low maintenance as possible. I will point out that this criteria does not apply to my hallway bulletin board. My hallway bulletin board is reserved to show off student work and dress up as much as possible, so it’s definitely not low maintenance. To show off student work in the classroom I usually use a clothesline and just clip up student work.

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You may already have an idea for what Boards you definitely need to have in your class, but you can still ask yourself the following questions to make sure that your boards are purposeful. I’ll also share some of the mistakes I have made and how I tried to improve the content and purpose of my boards.

1. What objective or purpose does this board serve? 

If your board doesn’t serve a learning objective or purpose for your students, then why do you have it up? For example, a couple years ago we started using our Smartboard for our daily calendar routine. But being a creature of habit I still kept a bulletin board up for our calendar. After a few weeks of students pointing out that I never changed the date on our paper calendar I realized there was no point to have it up. You may not agree with me on this calendar debate, but I felt like our students were so engaged with the smartboard calendar that the bulletin board calendar was wasting my precious wall space.

2. How will the students use this Bulletin Board? 

If you are an elementary teacher, chances are you have at least one of your boards reserved for your Word Wall. A couple years ago I had my Word Wall set up on a board that I thought was central, at least visibly,  to the class and served a purpose. However, the more I thought about how my students used the Word Wall I realized that they only really used it when I pointed to a word and asked them to read it.  The words were not removeable and my students couldn’t reach them even if they were removeable. Since then I decided to move my Word Wall to a lower space on the wall where the kids can reach the words. I also have attached the words with Velcro dots so the students can easily take a word and put it back on the wall. (I still have yet to add my velcro dots for myPURPOSEFUL BULLETIN BOARDS new Tropical Word Wall, but it’s on the to-do list.) If you need a Tropical Alphabet and Word Wall set, you can check this one out here   (color page backgrounds not included)

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Another board that my students are actively involved with is our Reading Strategies Safari Bulletin Board. With this board students take ownership of their Reading Strategies and record the words they read on the strategy they used to figure out the word. My students love getting that special Sharpie in hand to record their word on the board. To read more about this board set, check out my Blogpost Student Ownership; Decoding Strategies.

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3. How often will my students use this Board? How often will I have to update the Board?

If you are like me, you hate changing out your bulletin boards. With the exception of our Hallway bulletin board that is usually seasonally themed, I try to make my classroom bulletin boards low maintenance so that with just a few changes the boards can be used throughout the year.

One of my favorite areas in our class is the Writing Center. In our class we use the Writing Station by Deedee Wills. What I love so much about this writing set is that not only can I differentiate writing assignments for varying levels, but she has amazing vocabulary cards for every month. All I have to do is switch out the cards on the clothesline, monthly. I also have the vocabulary words in a binder on the writing table. Our students use this board and their Writing station daily, so I know that is definitely being put to good use.

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Another board we use during our Shared Reading/ Read Aloud time is our Road Trip Story Map Bulletin Board. This board is used to learn and review our story elements as well as mapping out our Shared Readings. You can read more about how we use this board in our class in the Blogpost Story Mapping; Road Trip Story Map. With this board my students are telling me the information to record for each element of the story on dry erase pockets. I keep this board up all year and just have to switch out certain element posters depending on the story we are reading.

I hope this information has helped you plan out your boards and will help create your Purposeful Classroom.  If you have used any of the products mentioned in this post, I would love to hear about it. Leave a comment below or tag me on Instagram @thehappyteacherspalette

Thanks for stopping by!

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