Some bulletin boards reflect student learning. Some attract attention as they display students work or family photos. Others simply brighten school hallways. Ed World's "Principal Files" team members share some of their favorite bulletin board displays.
What makes a successful hallway or classroom bulletin board? Are the best bulletin boards student-created? Teacher-created? Are they connected to the curriculum? To holidays? Do they promote school values? Student achievement?
Education World asked our "Principal Files" Principal Team to share with us the best bulletin boards they've seen. Perhaps an idea or two here will spur a bulletin board that will liven up your school's hallways!
"I am continually amazed at the quality of bulletin boards I see around my school," said principal Bridget Braney. "It is a pleasure to walk through the halls and classrooms to see the inventive ways teachers use their bulletin boards for display and, even more often, as a way to involve children in learning."
Last week, third graders in Braney's school -- Orchard Hill Elementary School in South Windsor, Connecticut -- recreated on a bulletin board the environment local Indians lived in many years ago. "The bulletin board demonstrated their understanding of an historical village," she said.
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Another memorable display was created last year, Braney told Education World. Space on one bulletin board (see photo) and in a hallway display case (click here) at Orchard Hill, was dedicated to veterans.
"Our Student Life Committee asked students to bring in pictures or mementos from relatives and family friends who have served our country," said Braney. "The response was overwhelming -- from all grade levels and staff members too. We had representative items dating back to the Civil War. This was one of the most satisfying displays to see each morning."
Principal Lucie Boyadjian told Education World about the Families of the Week bulletin board that attracts a lot of attention in the main display case of Glen Oaks School in Hickory Hills, Illinois. "We ask two students per week to submit family photos along with a brief statement about their family, its interests, and whatever else they wish to share," explained Boyadjian.
"We start our selection process with students in the upper grades, since they will be leaving us when the year is completed," added Boyadjian. "The students -- and visitors to our school too -- love this display. They enjoy reading about the featured students."
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"The most impressive bulletin board I have seen in more than 20 years is in the office of our school right now," said principal Debbie Hudson of College Hills Elementary School, College Station, Texas. "It is a huge United States flag made up of individual color photographs of our 675 students and faculty members."
Each student posed in a red, white, or blue shirt in front of a similar color background for his or her photo, explained Hudson. "Since we serve the married-student housing neighborhoods of a major university, our school has a very large international population. The parents are always quite touched when they see their children's faces as part of our country's flag. Before leaving to return to their home countries, they often take photos and videos of the flag. Some have even tearfully requested that their child's face be allowed to remain in the display after they leave.
"The reaction of parents and visitors to this display is why I consider it the most impressive bulletin board I have ever seen. It is a visual representation of what makes our school so special."
This year, one young student died unexpectedly, said Hudson. The student's parents requested that they be given the star from the flag that was cut from the child's blue-shirted photo. "In place of the star on the white background we put the student's name and the dates of the time she spent with us," added Hudson. "It is a powerful and quite fitting memorial."
Nina Newlin, principal at Rock Hall (Maryland) Middle School, remembers the bulletin board one of her sixth grade teachers created to recognize African-American History Month. Pictures of local African Americans dating back to the early 20th century were displayed on the board. Some pictures showed soldiers in uniform, others were of families grouped in front of local houses. "As kids walked by the display, they couldn't help but stop to look at the pictures," said Newlin. "Some of the students even mentioned being related to people in the pictures."
That bulletin board was an excellent way to make history real by connecting it to kids' lives and community, Newlin said, adding, "The only times I see kids stop and really look at bulletin boards is when they have pictures on them -- particularly pictures of kids. The other bulletin board our kids stop to look and read is the one that has stories and pictures about our school that appeared in the local newspaper."
At South Anna Elementary School in Montpelier, Virginia, students, their families, and faculty recently celebrated the school's 20th anniversary. Principal Doug Fiore said that special occasion spurred one of the best displays he has seen. One of the school's teachers took over the showcase and bulletin board in the entryway and created the theme Where Were You When South Anna Was Born?
"All staff members brought in pictures of themselves from 20 years ago," said Fiore. "As you can imagine, we had everything from baby pictures to adolescent pictures to adult pictures. Some teachers even brought in pictures of themselves teaching 20 years ago."
The community loved the display, Fiore said, and kids had a blast looking at the old pictures. "That display left a very lasting impression on us all," he said.
Principal Larry Davis is frequently impressed by the bulletin board displays that he sees around Doctors Inlet Elementary School in Middleburg, Florida. "Around Valentines Day of each year we see the most delightful, eye-catching bulletin boards," said Davis. One he remembers vividly had student silhouettes displayed on backgrounds of red or gold paper. Another board incorporated a border or red streamers decorated with heart stickers. Examples of excellent student work were displayed inside that border.
At Providence Day Schoool in Charlotte, North Carolina, principal Tim Messick is proud of the work teachers do to brighten up hallways by decorating their classroom doors. "The doors are decorated to reflect holidays as well as classroom or schoolwide themes," said Messick. "They provide a warm and inviting atmosphere within our building. They create a sense of invitation too; they invite visitors to step in and explore the wonders within the room."
Principal Karen Mink has been most impressed by one teacher's hallway displays. The teacher uses photos of her students in a hallway display that changes each month. In the fall, for example, she put photos of students' heads in cars on a racetrack and added to the top of the bulletin board the words "We Are Off to a Good Start." In the spring, she had a big flowerpot with the students' heads inside flowers; the title read "We Bloom in First Grade." On Valentine's Day, the students' heads appeared in hearts and the headline read "We Love First Grade."
"The bulletin boards are creative, ever-changing, and always fun to look at," said Mink, who is principal at O.C. Allen School in Aurora, Illinois.
The bulletin boards might not have a lot of instructional value, added Mink, "but they show how much the teacher cares for her students."