Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!
How’s your week been? If the equivalent to the English expression “Same old, same old” comes to mind for an answer, maybe you need a new view. Take a look at changing up where you begin each school day – the entrance to your teaching space – your classroom door!
Does your doorway sport the same poster (like the doorway to the teacher’s classroom in my blog pic below)
that greeted your students when the 2011 – 2012 school year started? Nothing’s wrong with Leaping (the word leap leaped out of the picture!) Into Learning, but by the month of May, this poster has lost its punch.
I know what you may be thinking…“yeah, right, that’s just what I need – another addition to my already very long Need-To-Do list!” Ah ha…who said that creating new tools and tricks to catch and keep kids’ attention has to fall on teachers’ shoulders alone?
Get your students to change up your door decor more. When they help you they’ll help themselves learn by design. The benefits don’t stop there. Children who step up to the challenge of making eye-catching art work (simple or more sophisticated, depending of course on their grade level) take some ownership of the classroom you all share; student assistants demonstrate responsibility and gain self-confidence when they get positive feedback about their efforts. That positive feedback will come from you and their classmates and families, by the way, if you publicly recognize your doorway designers.
How do you get kids involved in changing up your door decor? One option: Turn your classroom door into a rotating art gallery by taping student work like the watercolor painting of a rainbow over trees (by a second grader),
shown in my blog pic here.
Set up a simple system for selecting art to display. When you announce this new opportunity to your class you might ask students that are interested in submitting art for your door gallery to drop their names into a special box on your desk. Once a month (use a system that suits you) you can draw names and invite those students to pick out their art work and tape the pieces to your door.
If you teach early grades, mark the box Door Art Box – use any box big enough to hold slips of paper. Glue an empty box of crayons or markers to the top of the box and print Door Art Box on it. For older elementary school students mark Door Art Gallery Drawing Box on a box and decorate it with a print copy of a famous (age-appropriate) painting or an illustration of an artist’s palette.
Turning your doorway into a rotating gallery allows you to bring the world of art into your classroom, especially for elementary students in grades 3 – 5. Assign interested kids to do research on art collections from around the world. Online museum resources abound and often link to e-mail addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org (Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, PA) where you can write for (often free) student and teacher resources.
Another option for asking students to change up your door decor is to connect the door design to your curriculum. For example, you can invite students to create robots to feature on your doorway when your class is studying a related science, engineering or computer unit. Check out the multi-media robot in my blog pic below.
Assembled by a first-grade student, it also looks like a monster, doesn’t it – perfect for door decor after your class reads, Where the Wild Things Are by the late Maurice Sendak, or another age-appropriate monsterish book.
Changing up your doorway decor yourself, without involving your students, can be as easy as substituting or modifying a poster that’s been in place for some time (like the one in my blog pic below) with something new. For example, you could modify this poster as summer break draws near (in the Northern Hemisphere) by adding a piece of cardstock with the words printed – and into an AWESOME VACATION TOO – and re-hang it. Modified, this poster could encourage kids to “ride the wave” of…learning something new over summer …reading every day while on vacation… keeping a journal.
If you’re up for it, you can take one extra step on the last day of school and hang a beach bag full of supplies next to the poster for students to take as vacation gifts from the teacher.
You can drop in copies of a list of summer learning opportunities, including online options, or age-appropriate book titles or sheets of notebook paper for journaling to help your students “ride a summer learning wave.”
You and your students can find other step-by-step directions online for changing up your door decor. Google Crafting Door Decorations. Another source: Lauren Brandy, a California mom and artist who writes a blog about crafts. Visit laurenbrandy.com to find the link.
Here’s another idea…Look for ways to turn your doorknob into a hanging organizer to hold sticky notes and a pen to write messages.
Speaking of writing, look at the pencil wreath that a third grade teacher hung on her classroom door in the blog pic below. Like it? Instead of gluing the pencils to a decorative wreath like she’s done,
plan to start next school year by hanging a disappearing pencil wreath. Poke a circle of pencils into a white styrofoam wreath and invite kids to pick a pencil during the first week of class.
Do you remember decorating your bedroom door like I did as a kid? Children love to design entrances to a special room at home…why not also at school. Tap kids’ enthusiasm to help you transform your classroom doorway into an attention-getting teaching space that changes as the school year progresses.
Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!
Talk with you next week,
Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet