Sunday, September 7, 2008

Standard-based Bulletin Boards

Many years ago the decision was made that bulletin boards at Chets Creek would be teaching and learning boards instead of fluff. The idea is that a bulletin board is a window into the instruction in your classroom. The boards are used to show the teaching that is going on inside the classroom but are also used for learning as other teachers, classes, students, parents and visitors all stop to read the student work. Bulletin boards are one of the ways that we make our teaching visible, transparent.

The bulletin board shows the connection between a student's work, the standard the work is to meet, and the assessment that is used to decide when the work is good enough. Much of the work posted early in the year may not meet the standard or may be displayed as "a work in progress" but as the year progresses, more and more of the posted work will meet the standard and even exceed the standard.

Over the years, the school has adopted a specific criteria for bulletin boards. This is not to say that the teachers at Chets Creek don't often adapt the criteria as they take risks in showing work that has never been displayed before or use their creativity to rework the criteria. The proving ground is that a teacher can explain what is on her board and why she did or did not follow the specific criteria. Basically a Standards-based Bulletin Board contains the following features:

  • Title - Each board has a title that describes the big picture. Teachers sometimes use catchy phrases or a play on words to entice someone walking by the board to stop and read.
  • Standard - The standard is reproduced exactly like it is written in the Standards book or comes directly from the Sunshine State Standards.
  • Task - The task is an explanation of what the class or student was asked to do. Teachers often include a list of the mini-lessons taught prior to the specific assignment so that the reader can easily see how the specific task fits into a string of lessons.
  • 4 pieces of student work - 4 pieces of student work are posted that often show a range of work.
  • Commentary - Each piece of student work includes a commentary written by the teacher or by the student that explains why the particular piece meets the standard or does not. Sometimes the commentary includes "next steps" to show where the student should go next. The commentary can take many forms: written in paragraph form, bulleted or in writing, can be in the same form found in the rubric book

In addition to the required parts above, the bulletin board might also include student work copied directly from the Standards Book as an example of the expectation for a particular standard, rubrics, artifacts such as photographs of the process, models or artistic representations of a product or experiment, charts, graphs and anything else a teacher may dream up! Risk-taking is encouraged and reinforced!

Thanks to Christina Walag for sharing her collection of bulletin board photos over the past few years below!


We all know that bulletin boards are about the depth of the student work but several years ago we decided that the depth didn't really matter if bulletin boards weren't attractive and interesting enough to make people stop and read, so we present the following tips and suggestions from the Bulletin Board Police:

  • Does my bulletin board have a title that brings all the pieces together? (such as "Apple-tising" for functional pieces about making applesauce)

  • Is my board appealing? (You slaved over it and now you want people to read it! Think about the boards in the building that catch YOUR eye and make YOU stop and say, "Wow- what is this?" You want that to be YOUR board)

  • Is my most important point displayed at eye level? (That's where most people read)

  • Is my bulletin board easy to read and follow from left to right? (most people read from left to right and top to bottom)

  • Do my bulletin board borders look new? Do my borders coordinate well with the theme or color of my board? (anything bent or torn needs to come down - today!)

  • Are all papers securely fastened to the board? (One staple or one clip makes the work look temporary)

  • Does all my work in the hallways look fresh and new? (any work that is old or tattered needs to come down. Any seasonal work that is more than a month old should come down - no pumpkins in January!)

  • Is my commentary easy to read? (font should be simple and .14 or larger so it is easily readable)

  • Are there any spelling or grammar mistakes on my board? Check and double check spelling and then let a friend check it again. One minor error might be overlooked but many spelling and grammar mistakes will make the borad look unprofessional)

If you ever want a second opinion before putting up your bulletin board, stop by and talk over your board with your coach or a colleague. Or... e-mail your commentary for a coach to review before you put it up. We all learn more when we depend on each other for collaboration!


Mrs. Nash said...

I've also been advised to include "circumstances of performance", a bulleted list that adds more detail to the setting of the task. For instance, "in class", "with peer feedback", "with the opportunity to revise", etc.

Meli Launey said...

This post is extremely helpful to me. I am in the process of preparing my first standards based board now. (With the help of my wonderful ELA officemate, ...and recently wed, Dorry!) How exciting to be able to see so much student work around the school. It is such a great learning tool for the students as well, when they are able to see their work and the work of their classmates connected to the standard. I'm excited to see how it all turns out.