In most classrooms, classroom displays and bulletin boards don’t just make the room a cheery place to learn, they also serve a purpose. They might lay out a road map to show where a teacher is heading with student learning and classroom management. They can also show what learning objectives will be met within that classroom. And if used to their fullest potential, they can help further student learning goals.
Using bulletin boards effectively in the classroom
“If a bulletin board becomes part of the learning, it saves the teacher from having to create it, it ties into the learning, and it gives the students ownership of their space.”
In author/educator Michael Gravois’ opinion, the most effective bulletin boards:
- Are interactive and make the classroom “come alive” with the curriculum material being studied.
- Give students a sense of ownership of the classroom by surrounding them with examples of their work.
- Are mostly created by students.
Reflex bulletin boards
Classrooms that use Reflex, an individualized math fact fluency system, can—and do—use the above ideas to increase the system’s effectiveness. Reflex-focused displays show how classrooms are using the program and how well their students are progressing towards math fact fluency.
The three main types of Reflex bulletin boards we see in classrooms are:
- Green Light Usage tracking
- Fluency Growth
- Celebrations of Success
But how can educators better use these boards to promote success and engagement within their classrooms?
Teachers can use bulletin boards for positive reinforcement tools; pulling out the knowledge in students while giving them goals. A great example of this is Ms. McGinnis’ “All-Star Success bulletin board.” Each student had a goal to attain and as they mastered these goals their names and pictures went on the board. She put student pictures and names on stars, hung up milestone certificates, and kept a class fluency chart. She even made an extension of the bulletin board, and when students got to a certain number of facts they got a lunch celebration. She said that, with Reflex, “the kids have a better attitude about math. I’ve seen the confidence level soar in all of my students.”
Strengthening other concepts
Bulletin boards can also help reinforce other concepts like graphing and making cross-curricular connections across subjects. Jennifer Perez, a Math Coordinator in Kansas, had her students create a bar graph of their Green Lights. Each day they got a Green Light, they added a green sticker to their graph and charted their own progress. Another teacher in North Carolina taught her students how to chart their progress using a line plot. Students were able to see their progress, add milestones, and learn what a line plot was. A teacher in Michigan even incorporated some Social Studies content with her Reflex timeline. Students learn facts as they learn how to create and keep a timeline going.
Bulletin boards can also be used to help students achieve the conceptual prerequisites to using Reflex. Teachers can create bulletin board with visuals that reinforce counting up and down in addition and subtraction, for example.
When bulletin boards set clear objectives and teachers have the students create and add items to the display, they’re not only making a teacher’s job more effective, they’re also making it easier. Ms. Trevino, a teacher in Texas, shared a bulletin board that was drawn by her students. They tracked their own progress, and drew their own versions of Reflex characters. A teacher in New Jersey used the Fact Detail Report as a guide to create her bulletin board. They made a pyramid on the board like the fact family pyramid in Reflex. Students looked at their fact details in the program, and then filled them in on the board. The teacher and students are both using the tools in Reflex, but taking them one step further so students can track progress and celebrate their successes.
Bulletin boards can also be helpful from an administrative point of view. If a teacher’s goal is to make sure each student achieves three green lights a week in Reflex, an up-to-date “who got the green light” bulletin board can help the teacher see who needs to get on and use Reflex when.
Bulletin boards can also promote school-wide Reflex goals. In Washington, an Interventionist made a bulletin board to encourage healthy competition among grade levels. To create it, she just printed and hung up the reports from Reflex. In Saskatchewan, a school made a thermometer to show students’ fluency progress, and students who reached 100% got to put up their certificates in a common area for all to see.
Displays can also communicate school programs and the successes their students are having to the greater community. In South Dakota, a “Reach for the Stars” bulletin board featured the Ninja from a Reflex game, and showed the current fluency for each grade level.
Beyond making a classroom more colorful and visually appealing, bulletin boards can also be useful tools for classroom learning, concept reinforcement, and student success celebrations. Keep an eye out on our blog for more great implementation ideas from your fellow educators.
Tia Brown is a fourteen-year veteran middle school teacher with a background in science and remedial math who truly enjoyed using both Gizmos and Reflex in her classrooms. The love of both products led her to become a Certified Instructor with ExploreLearning in 2013, traveling the East Coast and training teachers on Gizmos. She became a Reflex Grant Specialist in March 2016, and has trained more than 5,000 teachers in over 180 webinars.