Sunday, July 29, 2012

Student-Created Posters Are More Powerful!!

How many times have you walked into a classroom, and it looks so nice and organized, with pre-made posters everywhere, telling students exactly what rules to follow, parts of speech to use, math processes, writing steps, behaviors to display, etc.   My room used to be full of these wonderful posters!  I would go to the teacher store and spend waaaaay too much money on these posters that would tell my students exactly what they needed to do for 1,000 different things!

What I discovered over the years is that the main thing my beautiful, colorful, neat posters did is....collect dust and occasionally give a student something to bat at if it was hanging from the ceiling.  :-(

Why is that, though?  These posters are so attractive and have lots of good stuff on them, so why don't more kids use them?  I always pointed out the information on the posters to my students and tried to remind them of the posters occasionally.  

My students likely didn't use them because they had no interest in them, nor did they have any ownership in them.  How many kids do you see pick up books on parts of speech to read for pleasure? 

The important part about any poster is the information on it.  So, how do we engage students more with that information?   We have them create it!  

In our room, when we teach the steps of the writing process, we make a poster about it that gets hung up in the room. 

When the students decide the expectations of the community members in our room, we write those down, and that becomes our poster.

When our students determine what independent reading should look and sound like, we take their ideas, write them on a poster, and hang it up.  

Independent Reading anchor chart created with students

Anytime we feel we need some type of poster hanging in the room to remind students of something, we do not run to that teacher store and search frantically for a pre-made poster that displays that information.  Instead, we pull our classroom community together and create the poster with them.  This will automatically engage the students more with the content of the poster, as they have to come up with everything that's on it!  It also gives them ownership of the poster, as it's their words up there, not the words of some stranger.  It's authentic!

So, when you're thinking about the information that you feel is necessary to display in your room, rethink how you want that to look!   Not only will student-created posters be more meaningful (therefore more useful) to your students, but they will be easier on your pocketbook as well!  :-)  It's a win-win situation!

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