At the start of September our classroom looked bare and generic. Although a few motivational posters would have provided some aesthetic visuals to liven the room up, I refrained. Instead, I waited to see how student voice and interest would fill the wall space.
In only one month, our room is taking shape with student work, anchor charts, and art that is unique to the community of students in Room 8. Included in the room is:
- a row of self-portraits. These are simple line drawings with multi-coloured marker lines, similar to the style of John Lennon’s Imagine album cover. They provide a visual reminder of our diverse group and represent how each individual imagines their own image.
- an array of clear plastic page covers stapled to the bulletin board. One display of each student’s current published writing. Using the plastic covers allows the work not only to be protected, but stored throughout the year as a tool to show development.
- a large picture graph on grid chart paper. This graph shows the Multiple Intelligence strengths of each student in the classroom. In the first week of school we used a survey to determine our M.I. strengths. Then after photo day, we used one set of the small photo stickers to make a visual graph of our strengths. We have already referred to the graph on numerous occasions, and other teachers (French, Phys. Ed) have appreciated the graph as well to easily identify student strengths.
- a math gallery. When students solve problems in small groups, they are all provided with the same size paper. After they complete their work, we hang it on a bulletin board (math gallery) where the other groups can view it, add sticky note responses, and refer to it when working individually.
- an inquiry corkboard. This dedicated space grows as we add newspaper articles, photocopies of book covers, questions, photographs and data that support our inquiry questions. Our current question is “How are we all connected?” This question has led many discussions about water and our inquiry board is reflecting the questions and knowledge building of the students.
- logos. The students created their own logo contest for Room 8. There is a display of six logos that were created, then the students voted. Although they selected one winner, all the logos will stay in the classroom on display. We are using the winning logo as our image for our class Twitter account.
There are still many blank spaces to be filled, but I would rather they get filled by student work that is meaningful and authentic, then just decorating the space. As I look around the classroom, I realize that what I see (and more importantly, what they see) is a reflection of their own interests and perspectives. It is their voice.