A boundary is not that at which something stops, but that from which something begins.
This spring I visited Gigi McAllister’s fourth-grade classroom in southern Maine. When I entered the room, my eyes were immediately drawn to a large and colorful display of book covers. Inspired by Donalyn Miller’s work, Gigi has created a visual record of her reading throughout the year with four categories. “Currently Reading” is featured at the top, followed by the headings of “Just Finished,” “What’s Next,” and “Read This School Year.”
I asked Gigi about the display, and she explained that it was a challenging wall space to fill. It’s an awkward spot, not visible from most of the classroom because it’s wedged between the coat area and supply bins. Yet students see it first thing when they arrive each morning. They walk by it as part of their morning ritual of taking off their coats, hanging them, and then stepping over the threshold into the room.
Every classroom has a few nooks, crannies, and bits of wall space that aren’t easy to use for instruction or storage. We often forget about them till the classroom is nearly bare in late spring. Gigi uses her odd wall as a way to hold herself accountable as a reader — if she forgets to update the display, one of her students is sure to remind her. The listing of books is a fun way to see how quickly a list of books read grows throughout the year, and it’s a catalyst for dishing on new titles and authors with students.
As teachers begin to break down and clean up rooms, it’s a wonderful time for rethinking wall displays — which ones build and refine thoughtful work, and which ones have lived beyond their usefulness. Wall displays are our focus this week — enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
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Katherine Sokolowski writes about how she handles the challenge of Creating Anchor Charts with Multiple Classes using the same classroom:
The Chartchums blog has advice from Valerie Geschwind for using wall charts to record classroom talk:
Do your classroom walls need a refresh? Do students even refer to the materials you’ve posted? Margaret Berry Wilson shares some questions to ask yourself as you think through wall displays in If Classroom Walls Could Talk from Responsive Classroom:
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Katie Doherty uses Nonfiction Graffiti Walls as a tool for building response skills and community with her sixth-grade students:
Shari Frost has a suggestion for what shouldn’t be on classroom walls: student assessment scores. The Data Wall Debacle explains why this practice can be harmful to students:
Christopher Carlson describes why and how he made Reader Response Anchor Charts more rigorous and thoughtful in his fifth-grade classroom:
In this week’s video, Ruth Ayres confers with fourth grader Braden about the importance of inviting cover art for the book he’s written about a vacation:
If you’re interested in more articles on wall displays, you can find them and much more in the Classroom Design area of the website:
That’s all for this week!