K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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  • Managing a classroom with brain food: Tina Maples' eighth-grade language arts students are serious about their work they do. When students work on projects they care about — what Maples calls "brain food" — they manage the classroom themselves.

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The bulletin boards and black/white boards in your room reflect what you feel is important. Consider carefully what you need to display on them and use these as an additional teaching tool.

Use bulletin boards to reinforce instructional goals.

  • Create a calendar. Use bright colors, patterns, or perhaps a different numbering system. For example, you could use Roman numerals, a periodic table of elements numbering system, Morse Code, etc. In the primary grades the calendar is a wonderful medium for introducing, extending, and reviewing mathematical concepts. Use the calendar to display schedules of upcoming events such as PTA meetings, sports, or other school activities.
  • Display maps, charts, graphs, and book jackets related to current and continuing study.
  • Display numbers, letters, poems, songs, and sight words. These signs are key elements of the print-rich environment that whole-language advocates recommend.
  • Display posters, photographs, and other information relating to a unit being studied. These displays add valuable visual support to current topics.
  • Create a class theme. Many teachers choose, or have their students choose, a year-long theme to tie their units of study together.
  • Try designing a mystery display board based on the popular game show "Wheel of Fortune." Each week offer a different class-related motto, famous saying, or appropriate epigram with only a few letters filled in to get the students started. Let students offer guesses for missing letters until one misses. At that point, suspend play until the next day when guessing may begin again, selecting a different student to start the game. When the puzzle is solved, leave the complete saying up for display and prepare a new mystery saying related to class study or school goals.

Use bulletin boards to communicate essential information.

  • Display posters of the classroom rules, rewards, and consequences.
  • Create a visual representation of your classroom management system. The students will be more conscious of their behavior when they have something visual on which to focus.
  • Post a list of the things students may do when they finish an assignment early
  • Post school goals lists and mission statements. These may reflect classroom, team, and/or school priorities.
  • Post a daily or weekly schedule for your room.
  • List monitor jobs and the students who are currently filling these roles. For the sake of efficiency, make sure the names on this list can be changed quickly and easily.

Use bulletin boards to include and motivate students.

  • Create a bright welcome board that incorporates every student’s name and makes them feel a part of the classroom.
  • Use student snapshots and Polaroid photographs of the class members at school activities to create a bulletin board, collage, or montage for display.
  • Randomly select a "Student of the Week" to feature on a bulletin board.
  • Display students’ work. Ask students which assignments or projects they would like to have displayed.
  • Display "thermometer graphs" to measure progress toward major class and/or school goals. Let students have responsibility for maintaining and posting changes in the "rising temperature."

Use bulletin boards to make the classroom a more appealing place.

  • Display seasonal decorations.
  • Display student artwork.