Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Interactive Bulletin/White Boards

Every student teacher's dream is to have his/her own classroom and spend hours...days...weeks during the summer setting it up.  Desk arrangements, putting names on almost EVERYTHING, and making those cutesy bulletin boards sound like a blast!  The day before the students enter, the room is perfect, spotless, silent.  Then......they come.

This was me right out of student teaching 5 years ago.  I thought everything in my room needed to look perfect and attractive.  I slowly learned, that I needed every centimeter of space available to foster learning.  Now, those adorable bulletin board packages from all the teacher supply stores brightened up my room, but I noticed a few things.  Most of the time, the text was too small for the students to see.  They also took up a lot of space on the walls.  Most importantly, the students rarely used them.

I slowly learned that I needed to take charge and get my students engaged in and interacting with these displays.  Goodbye hundreds of dollars spent on borders.  Hello engaged students.

The following three examples are from the year I taught fifth grade.  My students loved these  boards and were always referring and adding to them.

This board was actually next to my desk and because I lacked bulletin or white board space, was taped to the wall.  I included some posters about the Civil War with the Essential Understanding questions above them.  We referred to these Essential Understandings throughout the unit and related each lesson to one of them.  This board stayed up for the whole unit.  Students would constantly take yellow post-its with questions they had.  I would try my best to find the answers to these questions and covered them in upcoming lessons.  The students also used blue post-its to record information they learned and found interesting.  

This next picture is of a closet I converted to a white board...because useable space.   The white board is actually from Really Good Stuff and came in a large roll with an adhesive back.  With this board, I used it as a review to reinforce the equation for finding the size of interior angles in regular polygons.  After learning how and why this formula works, I created this chart on my closet.  I started off by writing town the names and number of sides for a few polygons.  Every day I would add a couple more.  At first, I had students arguing over who got to write it.  Then I just began to draw names at random.

The last example I have for you goes back to the Civil War.  During the unit, I dedicated half of my main white board to this word wall.  As we heard a significant word that related to the Civil War, students wrote it down under the corresponding letter.  At the end of the unit, I had the students create ABCs of the Civil War books.  They were able to reference this board to help them and on each page were required to write the word, describe why it is significant, and draw a picture.  Please disregard the bar graph and the "Easiest Books List" that the students created.  This was for a school-wide reading program and my class wanted to be the only class where everyone read each selected book.  :-)

Well, you can clearly see that my room was probably not the most attractive that year, and with me being so organized, was difficult to spend my days in.  Many times I look back to pictures of my first classroom where everything was perfect, but I am proud at how my fifth graders took responsibility of their own learning.

Do you use interactive boards in your classroom?  What have you found to be successful?

Stay Connected!


  1. I love the white board on the closet idea. I didn't know you could by the stuff! Thanks for sharing. Your post is soooo true!
    :0) Melissa
    More Time 2 Teach

  2. This is really great Melissa! I especially love the last word wall. I never thought of using a word wall in that way for intermediate kids before. Thanks for the great ideas!

  3. I also didn't know you could buy the stuff to make a white board. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing! :)

  4. I need to pick up a roll of that whiteboard paper!

  5. I just realized how similar our classrooms are! I mean, the bones of the room: the white cinder block walls, the whiteboard with the narrow bulletin board across the top, the sink style. Same school designer?

    Your social studies word wall is a great reference for the kids. I've just started using an interactive word wall this year and it's a big hit. Easy reference and easy to add to. Makes me think, could I do one for geometry (my words are a little bit jumbled at the moment)? Hmmmmm.

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  7. Does the dry-erase roll come off the wall/surface easily without damaging anything? I have a wooden door I would like to use it on but it has to be easily removable with no damage.
    Thank you & super job!

  8. I couldn't resist commenting. Exceptionally well written Obat Perkasa Pria


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