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"Charting the Course"

Lynda O'Brien


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Seeking a new way to record and share the numerous projects developed by her students, Lynda O'Brien designed a unique display that doubles as a "timeline" in her classroom. The educator and administrator at Twin Oaks School in Melrose, Florida, has her students chart, categorize, and document their projects and class events on a two-foot by twelve-foot roll of parchment paper hung on a wall with the title "Chart the Course."

Lynda O'Brien's students hold the chart that
records a year's worth of activities.

"Using a digital camera, students take pictures of the projects," O'Brien told Education World. "After printing the pictures, they glue the prints onto the paper in timeline fashion, with a brief description of the project. I include all subjects, crafts, holidays, birthdays, and even tests."

The display sparks many discussions among the students throughout the year, reports O'Brien. They often look over the photos and chat about the things they have done and learned in the classroom. Parents also enjoy perusing the timeline of events.

"Chart the Course is in itself a project the students look forward to," observed O'Brien. "All the students love to display pictures that show them engaged in projects. The chart is visual evidence of the students' accomplishments, which has boosted class and team morale and unity."

The chart shares projects, classroom events, tests, and more.

When time permits, O'Brien allows every student to use a digital camera to document each project. The photos make wonderful writing prompts. She has been thrilled with the imaginative words students have added to their entries, the teamwork inspired by the chart, how it has motivated some students to improve their spelling, and the artistic flare some have added to the display.

The chart doesn't only demonstrate the students' work though. "This is a year's documentation of the teacher's work as well," added O'Brien, "and evidence of the team atmosphere many teachers strive to acquire in their classrooms."

Photos provided by Lynda O'Brien.

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If you're a teacher who has completed an interesting or unusual activity with your class -- or if you know of a teacher who has -- please let us know about it. E-mail a brief description of the activity, along with your contact information, to [email protected].

Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
Copyright © 2006 Education World

10/06/2006