Saturday, October 8, 2016

Posters in the Classroom

In Visual Literacy this week, we talked about visuals that are specifically used in the realm of education. When I think about educational visuals, my mind immediately envisions posters. A person who is not involved in education may not know that posters are actually a topic of debate in this field.

An example of a poster that may hang in a classroom or library; image used with permission from Enokson on flickr

The anti-poster argument is that posters and other hanging visuals can disrupt attention and learning in the classroom. So far, studies on the topic have shown that students in more heavily-decorated classrooms tend to spend more time off-task and underperform in the class because they are too visually stimulated to focus. Additionally, this argument states that posters and other visuals are hung more for the parents and teachers as opposed to the students, as evidenced by displayed posters that do not address content that the students have been taught (yet).

The pro-poster argument is that these visuals are learning tools that help students engage in the content of the class. Posters can succinctly summarize content so that students can glance at them and quickly recall what they are supposed to know about that topic. Posters are also decorative and can break up the monotony of bare, boring walls.

I personally believe that posters can be powerful learning tools, as long as they are used correctly. As this article states, posters must be rotated to specifically address the content the students are learning. This involves rotating posters between units as well as within a unit (depending on how long students are learning about a particular topic). I believe there are a few posters that should be kept throughout the year (such as the alphabet in a kindergarten classroom), but teachers need to be mindful of what they are hanging at what point in their students' learning. Additionally, teachers must be selective in the posters that they hang. Posters should be visually appealing and purposeful. Too many posters is overstimulating.

We borrow an anthropology classroom for our educational technology class.

There are far too many visuals in here, and they are all hung in a row around the classroom! Ah!

In class, we briefly discussed the use of QR codes in the classroom. I think this is a brilliant idea. QR codes can be scanned by students to learn more information about an identified topic. For example, if a student forgets how to estimate, he or she can walk over to the appropriate QR code, scan it, and refresh themselves on the process before returning to their problem. QR codes are not as visually impactful as a poster, but using them would keep the class from becoming overwhelmed with posters. If you'd like information about using QR codes in your class, I'd recommend Kathy Schrock's guide.

This QR Code links to my blog, but you could create codes that show a poster or informational website!

I also really like the idea of students creating posters that are beneficial to them. Students must use their critical thinking and reasoning skills to create posters that will help others learn about or recall information that is important. Additionally, they must think about visual aspects of their poster such as organization, design, and flow. Students take ownership of their learning when they create posters about topics they are studying in class.

Student-created poster on natural selection; image used with permission by Enokson on flickr

For a great example of a teacher implementing poster creation in the classroom, see the video below:

What are your thoughts on using posters in the classroom? Do you think there are more beneficial ways to incorporate visuals in the learning space? How can we optimally design our classrooms to be the best for our students? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Anna! Posters in the classroom are a great idea. As an English teacher, I hope to have posters of book covers on my walls to intrigue students. There are other ways, though, to incorporate visuals in the learning space. In my future classroom, I hope to utilize "mood lighting" during free-reading time. I am unsure what the fire code will permit in my future classroom, but I would either like to hang holiday lights around the room or have multiple lamps around the room so we could turn off the big overhead lights. This would visually set the mood that it is time to relax and read. I have never seen this done in a classroom and would like to try it. To answer your last question, I think we need to *ask* students what they want in our classroom in regards to visuals to create the most optimal classroom atmosphere. Students also tend to take more ownership of the classroom and feel as if it is "their space" when their work is hung on the walls. Thanks for your post!