Displaying Student Work - Who Should Decide What Is Displayed for the
Feb 25, 2013 Classroom Materials 1632 Views
How many times have you walked down the hallway of a school, and you saw walls outside of classrooms covered with the same activity? One 4th grade classroom had the students' writing about a specific prompt displayed. One 5th grade classroom had the students' coordinate graphing activity hung up. Another classroom wall had all of the students' research projects.
Now, when you've seen these displays of work, how many times have you been able to tell who is the accelerated writer, as well as the limited writer? How about the coordinate graphing genius and the coordinate graphing flop? The amazing researcher and the struggling researcher?
If it's the student's work hanging up, shouldn't the student get to decide what he feels is worthy of displaying publicly? Shouldn't he get to decide what he is most proud of to share with all the people walking in the hall?
When the teacher decides what to hang up, and it's all the same thing, the limited writer sees his "less impressive" writing hanging up next to the writing of all his peers. (It may actually be very impressive for him and his developmental writing level; however, it may not appear so compared to the on- and above-level students' writing!)
This is why we have "windows" hanging out in our hallway! Our windows are made of a piece of large construction paper with the middle cut out (so it looks like a frame), which is then sent through the laminator. This makes a frame with a piece of lamination on the inside of the frame. This frame is then stapled on three sides to another piece of large construction paper. You now have a "window" for student work! It's like a big pocket, where the students put their work in at the top, and it is displayed through the laminated window.
With these "windows," the students are able to choose what they are most proud of to put out in the hallway for public display. They just slip their work in their window when they are ready! The students can take ownership of what goes in the hallway, which also takes that job off of the teacher. It's a win-win situation, as both the student and teacher benefit. The teacher may just need to periodically check to see that all the students have something displayed.
Publicly displaying student work should be a positive experience for students, not something that makes them feel inferior or causes them any kind of discomfort. Letting the students choose what they want to display gives them ownership over deciding what's important to them and what reflects their best work! This encourages them to compete with themselves (making pieces their personal best), not with their peers!