Hosting A Gallery Walk

With over 130 students, you may think there is just no way to display all student work like projects all the time. But you totally should- and you totally can! Displaying student work is a form of affirmation, and there is no easier and faster way to share student work than a gallery walk. For those unfamiliar with a gallery walk, it is simply giving students time to share their work. There are different ways to do it, but usually students will just leave their work on their desk and move freely about the room checking out their classmates’ work. Here are some tips to have a successful and meaningful gallery walk.

1. Set the Expectations

For our first gallery walk, I always ask students what are the expectations for people when they go to a fancy art gallery? What are the likely consequences they break a rule? Their answers most often become our gallery walk expectations.

  1. Use quiet voices/ no talking
  2. Do not touch any of the artwork
  3. No running or horseplaying
  4. No eating or drinking
  5. Don’t stand over someone’s shoulder when they are looking (1 person per exhibit/ student work)
  6. If you see something wrong, alert someone immediately

2. Have Look Fors….

Give your students something to think about.

  1. What are things you like?
  2. What are things that you dislike?
  3. What was something creative?
  4. What is a great idea that you might consider doing next time?

3. Set the Timer/ Play Classical Music

Set a timer or play classical music. Sometimes, when I am not strapped for time, I just watch the students and when they begin to look like they are just wandering, then I end the walk.

4. Share Thoughts

Have students share their thoughts and share their look fors. Be sure to emphasize, that they should not name any names or be specific about particular projects… just speaking generally.

Gallery walks are a great way for students to share their creations with an audience and to see how their projects compare to other student projects. Students will put in more work knowing it will be on display for more than just the teacher to grade and to hand back immediately. Your students’ creations will constantly evolve as they learn the characteristics of a good project from their peers. I’m willing to bet that the quality of your student work and projects will increase if your students are consistently participating in gallery walks. That is a tremendous gain for giving up 5-10 minutes of your time!

3 Ways to Teach Plants

One of the reasons why I enjoy teaching our plant unit is because it is relatable in our everyday lives. Students usually have prior knowledge of plants and all they have to do is look outside a window to observe and to learn about this science topic. But if you are like me and you are in a windowless science lab, you can bring the plants to your students. I love to bring in a bouquet of flowers during this unit to use as a teaching tool AND it makes the room look a bit cheerier and smell a bit more beautiful. (and a little less like Axe body spray). If it’s a gorgeous day out- here’s your perfect excuse to get outdoors! Take your students out and have them observe the various types of plants in the school yard. Plants are a very tangible science topic, so use what you have around you to teach the unit- whether it is leaves that you pluck off a neighbor’s front lawn (what? they have different bushes than we do…), a couple of potted plants from your back patio, or artificial plants and flowers (you can get snag these at the dollar store!) Below are my favorite activities to use during our Plant Unit.

1. Plant Parts and Functions

Have students create a classified ad to show the relationship between plant parts and functions. You’ll have to start the lesson with “Back in my time…” or “In the old days….” because most likely, your students will not know what it is, but they always have a blast doing it! You can get the Plant Classifieds Ad Activity here.

2. Classification of Plants

Have students show their understanding of classifying plants by creating pins that would be in a Plants Pinterest Profile or try a Monocot & Dicot Seek and Sort– a twist to card sorts.

3. Photosynthesis

Use a Photosynthesis or Plants Seek and Find to have students search for examples of key terms for your plant unit. This works well as a hook, unit title page in their ISN, or as a review. Check out my post about the Science Behind Seek & Finds.

Plants can be an easy topic to teach, but you can make it more engaging by giving students the opportunity to discover the plant life in their environment. Let your students’ writing skills shine when they create their Plants Classifieds Ad, allow them to use their art skills when they create Plant Pinterest Boards and keep things fun with Seek and Find Science for Plants and Photosynthesis.

A Twist on Student Presentations

If you have ever sat through 6 periods of class presentations, you know that class presentations can be a total nightmare! Presentations usually entail a student reading straight off a script (in a robotic voice, not making any eye contact), another student who can’t stop giggling, the one kid whose job is to hold the poster (and doing a terrible job of it) and unengaged audience members who are simply thinking about their own project and presentation. I know most teachers simply don’t do presentations because they seem to be a waste of time- having to take multiple class periods and there doesn’t seem to be much bang for their buck. But, if you are not having students present their work or their project, you are doing a huge disservice to your students. Being able to communicate in an effective manner is critical for people when they enter the workforce. Effective communication takes practice. A lot of practice. Check out my twist to classroom presentations and your students will be experts in no time. (a win for everyone)

How it Works

  1. Divide your class groups in half. One half will be presenting, while the others are the audience.
  2. Have your presenting groups (half of the groups) stand in various places in your classroom. It can even be at their tables. Have each of the remaining groups (audience) go to a presenting group.
  3. Allow the presenting group 5 minutes to present to their small group.
  4. Have the small group audience rotate to the next presenting group. The presenting group presents again to another audience. Yes… I said again. This is perfect because they don’t just present and sit down and it is over with. They have an opportunity to get comfortable and refine their presentation for the next group.
  5. After students present to each of the audience groups, the audience now becomes the presenters and will present to rotating groups.

Why it Works

  1. Practice makes progress! Students get multiple opportunities to present.
  2. It allows students to present anywhere in the classroom. Students feel more comfortable when they aren’t standing front in center of the classroom.
  3. Audience members are not distracted because they are not sitting at their desks (near their project or their presentation).
  4. It offers a more intimate setting where students can learn from their peers.
  5. Everyone can present in just one class period! No more wasted time!

I can’t tell you how much this method of presenting has changed my classroom and has increased my students’ presentation skills. It has made my students learn to engage their audience and most importantly speak more confidently.