18 tips for simply storming displays
When used skilfully, the best classroom displays add real value because they can provoke interest, inspire engagement, improve self-confidence and give children ownership of their environment. They help children remember what they have learned, they act as a means for checking their ideas and explaining their ideas.
However, it has been found that too many things in a child’s field of vision negatively affects their ability to focus; it reduces their learning and limits their ability to process information and increases their anxiety. Research tells us that heavily decorated classrooms can actually disrupt attention and learning and although sensory stimulation matters, too much of a good thing can be deleterious.
So how can you strike the right balance?
‘Clever Classrooms’, the University of Salford summary report of the HEAD project (Holistic Evidence and Design), say their single most important finding is that the displays on the walls should be designed to provide a lively sense to the classroom, but without becoming chaotic in feel. As a rule of thumb, 20-50% of the available wall space should be kept clear.
So if you're plotting your next round of Wow words and working walls, consider these ideas:
- Use QR (Quick Response) codes and Augmented reality apps like HP Reveal (Formerly Aurasma) or String to embed children’s work that can be unlocked digitally – this makes a truly interactive display – examples of work can be used to trigger video explanations from children. That’s a wow!
- Prove it Board – ideal for literacy, fill a board with talking/writing prompts as a way of citing evidence to support/strengthen ideas: ‘Based on what I have read…’, ‘….. proves that’. ‘I know this because…’ ‘The reason I think….is because…’ Extend the idea to make critical thinking posters to use across the curriculum:
- Mindset Moments boards – devote part of a wall space to create a place for children to post their reflections about learning. Provide children with post-it notes so they can write down what they have enjoyed learning about and how they have improved. It provides children with a chance to show how their mindsets have grown and shifted. For example, “I wasn’t sure about how to take turns in a debate but now I am more professional and confident”
- Have a Bulletin Board called ‘The best thing I learned today is….’ for children to post their thoughts around
- Use a ‘Professional Conversation’ prompt board and post this on a wall for children to refer to in order to foster healthy interaction, e.g. provide prompts such as ‘I agree with…because…’, ‘I take your point but disagree because…’. ‘If I can go back to what…said about…’, ‘What you seem to be saying is…but…’ ‘Couldn’t it also be the case that…?’
- Colour Corners – keep in mind how certain colours can make children feel. You could have a colour corner to depict moods, e.g. green = calm, yellow = positivity
- Create Achievement Boards to recognise accomplishments – rewarding little steps and big steps in learning helps children develop pride in themselves and what they can do.
- Visualise goals with timelines – provide a chart for children to post daily messages of what they intend to achieve and get better at.
- Have a WAGOLL wall so that children can see what an effective piece of work looks like compared to WABOLL (generated by the teacher!)
- Key Words Wall and subject-specific/technical vocabulary displayed and discussed for a variety of curriculum areas.
- Working Wall – work never stands still so a work in progress working wall helps children add to and see the learning process evolve each day, e.g. photos of children working, examples of children’s work linked to an objective, mind maps, vocabulary, diagrams, guidance, etc.
- Problem of the week – an opportunity for children to post responses to a weekly problem (science, maths, literacy).
- World Wall - promote multi-cultural connections and links through textiles, maps, photographs, artefacts, and books.
- Have a Big Questions board – provide a wall space for wonder based questions.
- Have a Choice Display – children choose a piece of work that they want to showcase to their classmates.
- Daily/weekly news board – display class, local, national and international news that occurs through the week (see here)
- Mind maps or spidergrams lend themselves well to wall spaces for exploring and connecting ideas together.
- Concept cartoons – present a problematic concept with the speech bubbles of a number of children explaining their thinking (see here)
Why not try a few and share them with your colleagues?
About the author
John is an ex-primary school teacher and Ofsted inspector who has spent the last 20 years working in the education industry as a teacher, writer and editor. John’s specialist area is primary maths but he also loves teaching science and English. John has written a number of educational and children’s books, and contributed over 1,000 articles and features to various educational bodies. John is eTeach’s school leadership and Ofsted advice guru, sharing insights on best practice for motivating and enriching a school team, as well as sharing savvy career steps for headteachers and SLT.