Sooner than later it will be that time of year again for the hustle and bustle of creating that fabulous learning environment. Being grounded in the Daily Five and The Sisters’ beautiful strategies for creating learning environments, I keep in my mind that that less is often more. The biggest management tool as a classroom teacher is a blank canvas! Classroom walls are like a blank notebook that we add on to throughout the year. Having a visual memory myself, I retain the information by visualizing where the information is on the wall. However, the memory is more profound because I was the one who created it. Is what we place on our walls, student generated or teacher generated? It does make a difference. Thinking back to word walls research, the walls are useless if the students are not interacting with them. Students have to have input and stake in what goes on the wall. So skip the hustle and bustle and get those blank canvases ready!
SO WHAT ARE RESEARCH WALLS?
A research wall is our ONE major space to start our project, it is interactive, it is what drives the classroom learning. I usually start by using the walkabout picture strategy (which is a quick pre-assessment). I print off pictures that relate but that are not “give aways” to the learning. The students walk about the room with their learning partners writing what they think they might learn based off of the picture. Once I had a picture of a legally blind child skateboarding using a stick with a wheel. They had amazing ideas for what we might learn, but didn’t quite understand the intentions of the picture until the end of the activity. I think of this activity as the “K” in a KWL chart. I place the pictures and student writing on the Research Wall. The wrap up discussion is the “W,” what I want to learn… it is there that the students and I generate the DRIVING QUESTION. The “W” and “L” are continuous as the students place their questions and learning to the wall. The wall tends to generate links to research using QR’s. The data and findings are posted to the wall. I get really excited when a student can post a discovery to the wall. They stand up in front of the wall and post their findings. EVERYTHING I facilitate and everything WE learn is purposeful to help us answer the questions on the research wall!
Try this Blindness Project to get your wall started…
blindness PBL KWL Walk AboutClose_Reading_of_Helen_Keller using the videoDE_Helen_Keller_LS_K5Driving Questions Essential Questions for BlindnessHelen_Keller__Excerpt_from_The_Story_of_My_Life oo wordsmath stationsPerson Puzzle – Domain and Range – Helen KellerRank_&_Reason (1) Helen Keller
We even had our Career Specialist add to our Research Wall!