If you have spent time on Pinterest in the last year or so it’s likely you’ve come across something called “Gallery Walks.” I had seen them starting last summer but hadn’t really had a good opportunity to utilize them last semester (plus there was the huge lapbooking push and well, I can only do so many different activities thoroughly in a 45 minute period). Anyway, we just got to the Renaissance in Music Theory and instead of showing slide after slide of paintings, I decided it was time to try out a Gallery Walk. This was admittedly a very rough draft of a gallery walk since it was the first time I’ve tried it so pardon the pictures printed by my temperamental printer and being taped haphazardly to the wall. When I was watching my kids complete this activity I mentally compiled a pro and con list to gallery walks and spoiler alert, the pros vastly outweigh the cons 🙂
What I did:
–picked 10 paintings of varying degrees of familiarity to my kids
–taped them on the wall in different locations in the room
–wrote 5 questions on the board that the students had to answer for each painting
–students were given THIS free handout to keep track of their paintings and the answers to their questions
–when they finished analyzing each painting they had one more task to complete: match their analysis to the correct information taped to the board (pictured above and explained more below)
For each painting my kids answered these questions:
- Who is the main figure and why or how do you think that?
- What is the topic/subject of the painting?
- What emotion(s) do you see in the people’s faces?
- What emotion(s) do you feel looking at the painting?
- What is it about each painting that has given it staying power, and what about it makes it clear that it is from the Renaissance?
After I explained how this would work, the kids each picked a painting to start with (there are 8 kids in this group and I had 10 paintings taped up), they answered each question for that painting, then they picked their 2nd painting, answered the questions, and moved on. After looking at each painting and answering the 5 questions, my kids then came to the left side of the white board where I had taped the actual title, description, and painter’s name of each image and they tried to match up the actual descriptions with the paintings they thought they belonged to.
Pros to doing a gallery walk:
–the students can easily work at their own pace (since I’ve got a 5 grade level span in this class this was easily the best pro)
–they were engaged the whole class period (this being the last period of the last day of the week this is sometimes a struggle)
–they were constantly moving
–the program director though this was a great idea
–the kids had lively debates with each other over what they were each interpreting and feeling from each painting (can’t ask for much more than that)
–super low prep…it took me longer to decide which paintings to use than any of the other prep work
–this was very student driven…after I explained how it would work and answered their questions I didn’t really have anything else to actively do (no lecture, no grading, no classroom management etc, I got to observe them and take mental notes for any modifications for the next time we do this)
Cons to doing a gallery walk:
–we almost didn’t have time to finish (not sure if it was because I had too many paintings, or since we only had 40 minutes, or if it’s because the kids kept stopping to debate their opinion–if it was the latter then I’m fine with it)
–as it turns out I don’t think we had covered enough of the Renaissance yet for them to feel confident in answering the last question so they were all running that answer by me to make sure it was good enough before they wrote it down…we’ll start class this week with a wrap-up reflection on the gallery walk, including their various responses to the last question
I’m really very lucky with this group of kids…they take all my experiments in stride, and they’re always willing to give every type of activity we try out another chance because they understand the whole “practice makes perfect” thing. We will do another Gallery Walk to review the people and events of the French Revolution (which we’re starting this week…I know, there’s no rhyme or reason as to what we cover and when in Music Theory), and I think that one will go over even better since they’ll know what to expect so they’ll have more time and might not feel so rushed. Then I think the following time we do this I’ll divide them into 2 groups, each group will create the exhibits, and they’ll swap and complete the “walk” in the other groups’ gallery.
Soooooo, since this was another classroom success thanks to Pinterest (click HERE to read about my previous one), when will spending time on Pinterest count as PD?