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I used bulletin boards for many things: to inform students about the topic we were working on such as poetic terms or parts of an essay, to allow interactive work with poetry using magnetic words on the whiteboard which drew in even those who "hated poetry", to show information with pictures and articles during a unit like Anne Frank, and to show student work with the name removed once students trusted that their work would be respected. My favorite student work to use was any part of an essay we were working on because I could put it on the overhead or computer and ask the question, "What did this writer do right?" and then the question, "How could this be improved?" By focusing on the sections done right, we as a class could build on that rather than focus on the wrong. That came out in the improve question, but in the right way. It also helped the class realize that we were in this together to become better writers. Bulletin boards became something students rushed to see.
This idea took up more than just the bulletin board, but it started there. I was teaching Beowulf and had each student look up the history of their name and create a shield. The decorated it with their coat of arms and came up with a family motto. Some were very thoughtful, some very funny. The parents really got a kick out of it when they came for Parent's Night, and the girls (I taught at an all-girls school) couldn't have had more fun with markers, glitter, and glue. You would've thought they were 7, not 17!
I don't think you need to be teaching Beowulf for this idea to be fun and successful. Virtually any class would work, from literature to history to social studies.
Hmmmm, this topic is a little bit broad because bulletin boards can offer such a wide range of subjects all over the education spectrum! However, I am guessing that you are wondering how to decorate an interestng bulletin board for the beginning of the school year? I am not sure if the bulletin board you are decorating is in or near an English class (I see you are a senior in high school), but considering that is my own background, I'll share some thoughts that have worked for me. Here are a couple of ideas:
First, simply as an attention grabber and ice-breaker, you could have the students bring in (or simply print out) a picture of themselves actually doing their favorite summer activity. The words that describe each activity could be slowly added to your bulletin board one day during class as a good lesson on the use of description in writing.
Second, as an interesting introduction on the Scarlet Letter, I always teach a class on the differences between Puritans and the Old Order Amish, just to show that at least some of the same practices and dress are still in use today. So a bulletin board with pictures, items, etc. that stress those differences and similarities is always an interesting conversation piece.
There is no right answer when it comes to this topic at all. Hence, let me make a few suggestions that could be rewarding to the student body. First, I would use this opportunity to think about some strategy. Perhaps you can think of what the school needs most. What are some of the weaknesses or challenges that the student's face? If you can identify these things, then the bulletin board can be used to address some of these issues. For instance, if the student body knows nothing of art, then you can have student artists display their works for a few weeks and another student can do the same. If there is a problem of racism, then something on this topic can be used to decorate. I think you get the point, use this medium as a way to educate and build up, not simply as a fun thing - although it can be fun.
Second, another thought is to use this bulletin board to create some sort of challenge. What if you broke up the class into three or four groups and create some sort of event? The teachers can be the judges? In short, don't limit this opportunity.
Bulletin boards are really quite fun. I think that you can come up with a variety of items. One particular topic for older kids is a goal setting bulletin board. Essentially, you create an area where you give an overall topic and have your students list or "declare" their goal for that topic. For example, if you are giving vocabulary quizzes, you can work with students for a particular goal that needs to be accomplished. It could be a particular score they want to achieve, a method of studying they want to try, or even something such as being able to participate more in class on vocabulary topics. They can write their goals down on index cards, and then after the particular topic, students can reflect on how they achieved their goal, what they needed to do better, or other elements. Keep a folder for each student in which their goal cards are placed and your bulletin board becomes a student portfolio which is a great talking point with parents or students.
It might be a bit juvenile, but a birthday bulletin board is always an "old reliable." Students decorate the template of a small birthday cake or something like that, and then place it on the bulletin board that has been divided into 12 sections, one for each month. On their birthday, they get to "wear" their birthday template and are allowed some small "exemption" on that day. Another bulletin board idea is to divide the boards available into enough for each student to have their own "zone" and they can decorate it as they wish to as often as they wish, with your permission. Establish some ground rules as to what is and is not appropriate and that every student has to post something. In this, students have an area where they can establish their own personality in the classroom. Students have an area where they feel they are reflected in the classroom and that their voice is validated. At the same time, you are able to display the most important element in the classroom: Your students.
I am not really sure of what you are looking for subject wise, and I do teach elementary school, but the bulletin boards that go over best in my classroom are interactive ones. We make them for almost every subject. The students like to actually manipulate and move things around on the bulletin board.
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