Since I teach 3 different social studies classes (World Geography, TX history, and US history), I rotate which class is represented on my bulletin board every few weeks. Well, when it was almost time for my Texas history class to have their rotation, I had a grand plan to create a growing Texas exploration timeline style one. Well, I was short on time and supplies, so I decided that my girls would make the bulletin board themselves.
Turns out, that was a REALLY good idea because they were much more invested in how it came out than when I put the bulletin board together myself. They even brought the teacher in from across the hall to show her what they had done. This particular one was from our exploration in Texas unit, and yes, right now it’s hanging up on the white board right next to my actual bulletin board (my 13 Colonies unit ran longer than I expected so I hadn’t switched the bulletin board out yet).
A high school student had given me TX shaped card stock cut outs a few weeks prior and I hadn’t yet decided what to use them for. Well this particular day a lightbulb went off in my head and I gave one to each of my girls. They were each assigned an explorer already, and they filled out the small TX cutouts with certain pieces of information (the whole project and more can be found HERE).
When they each had their TX cutouts ready to go–including coloring and decorating it to their liking–they were taped to the big Texas. One girl drew the big state outline on butcher paper, another volunteered to cut it out (because they all know my attention to detail in cutting is lacking), and as a class they decided to color it according to region. When it was totally done, they taped their small TX shaped explorer cards to it.
Knowing that this would be the bulletin board (I had told them the end goal of this project would be them creating the bulletin board display as I was handing out the small TX cutouts) they were really into this project. They made sure their information was correct, they focused on the design and color choices of their cutouts, and when they taped them to the big TX they made sure the little ones were visually balanced.
Each class the girls came in, looked at the bulletin board, and smiled. They were SO proud of what they had done, and when I told them I was leaving it up for open house because I was also really proud of them they could barely contain their excitement. When I finally had to take it down to give World Geography its chance they asked if they could make the bulletin board again next time. I told them we’ll see, but really, I know I’ll let them. Let’s be real, it’s easier for me, they were extra attentive to their work, and especially invested in the final result since they know the whole middle school would see it every day.
This is the first year I’ve had real bulletin boards, let alone rotating ones based on the material we’re covering, so I was a bit preemptively intimidated by that idea over the summer. Having my kids be responsible for most of them has turned out pretty well so far and has definitely alleviated some of my internal pressure and stress.
Do you have any tips or tricks for bulletin board creation or getting students invested in classroom decorations? I’d love to read about it in the comments.
Updated to add, here’s an example of a bulletin board my 6th grade Geography students made for our Europe unit (each postcard has a different landmark or tourist attraction and key information about each to highlight why it’s worth visiting) and one my 8th graders made as a review for pre-Revolutionary War events (a cause of the war, the year it happened, and its historical significance).
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