Lily Wilson

To display or not to display

That is the question that many of us ask ourselves at some point in the year. Often, it is asked within the boundaries of our school’s policy on the matter but many of us (even if only theoretically) will think about the question more broadly. One thing is for certain, we will have all thought about them in some capacity as we all will more than likely have had to create one!

This brings us to some important questions to ponder… What is the purpose of a classroom display, how might it support or detract from learning, and what effect might it have on our classroom environment and students? As with most things in teaching, the answers to these questions can be susceptible to the, somewhat, cyclical nature of educational trends. They will also vary person to person.

Some teachers absolutely love to create a 3D masterpiece that showcases what the children have learned, hoping to turn their classroom into a confidence-boosting gallery of work; others prefer to use them as working walls that change and adapt with the learning, acting as an additional resource to scaffold the children’s work. Others still want to limit, or even eliminate, what goes up on their walls in order to create a calm atmosphere that seeks to reduce cognitive load- and their impact on the environment.

With this in mind, we reached out to a few teachers asking them to share a display that they have created and explain what their thought process behind it was. We’d also love to see your displays and hear your thoughts on them so please share them with us in the comments. On a final note, whilst there will always been differing opinions on the matter, I think there is one think that (nearly) all of us can agree upon when it comes to displays: triple backing is an absolute waste of time and paper!

KS2 Display 

This KS2 display is a working wall designed to support the children’s’ learning daily. As such it changes day to day, week to week. Currently it shows Place Value. It is designed with both student and teacher in mind: It lowers teacher workload whilst increasing impact. It is quick to change, with the flip chart activity created whilst teaching and then utilised during the lesson, and interactive activities which can be used during a lesson. The interactive activities are differentiated through varying questions. For the student it is a visual reminder of previous and current teaching, as it is actively used within the lesson it gives independent groups another layer of scaffolding. A working wall can serve to both increase and decrease cognitive workload, the challenge questions can extend children within a lesson whilst the modelling supports during independent activities.

Celebration Display of work

This is a celebration display of work created during a Year 5 writing unit based on myths and legends. This was designed to showcase the work of all the children, but in particular that of our EAL children within the cohort. The children rewrote the story to create a comic page for ‘Odysseus and the Cyclops’. They then created water colour illustrations to match their writing. This celebration of work, in a prominent location, brought a lot of pride to the children and was celebrated by the whole year group. This in turn further motivated the students.

Secondary Corridor Display 

This secondary corridor display was designed with bright colours and bold text so that all students and staff could easily read as they walked past. I want students to feel confident about their learning. There is a lot of pressure in schools for students to achieve particular grades and get into particular universities. I want students to know that their best is always good enough and that it’s our duty as educators to support them. The positive affirmations and local heroes are there to inspire students to keep on going and to never give up. This display has been up for a few years now and still serves its purpose of inspiring each new cohort of students and staff.

If you want to read more about some of the theory behind classroom displays, click through to read this article by Anna V Fisher, Karrie E Godwin and Howard Seltman on the visual learning environment.

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