When a student walks through the halls of their elementary school, it can make them feel a sense of belonging to see examples of their work hanging in the hallway. However, displaying student work in the halls come with its own set of challenges. Students may start comparing themselves to other students. Parents and family members might see the displays and focus more on the quality of their child’s work rather than focusing on what their child is learning. And let’s not forget that putting up and taking down hallway displays is another thing that teachers have on their already overflowing plates.

Thinking about these and other challenges lead Momentous School fourth-grade teacher Ashely Tant to rethink how she displayed her students’ work. The result: A Classroom Timeline.

The classroom timeline is a non-expirable hallway design that features all the kids all the time without singling out any one student. It takes the focus off the individual student and highlights what the class is learning and doing together.

How does it work?

Each month, the teacher decides what lessons or project they will feature on the timeline. They might decide to feature cursive handwriting, a science lab, a reading comprehension assignment, or a class art project. Once the teacher decides on two or three things to feature for the month, they get the class involved.

Ms. Tant uses time in their morning meeting to discuss what they will put on the wall, and together as a class they write a short description of the featured project that will accompany an example.

Now, wait a minute. How do you choose an example without singling out any of the students? Ms. Tant created a few guidelines to help her choose examples.

  • Choose the most grade-appropriate example. This will not necessarily be the “best” example.
  • Remove student names from the examples.
  • If appropriate, have students participate in choosing the example. This works best for group projects.

There are several benefits to displaying student work in a classroom timeline. A big one of those benefits is that the teacher doesn’t have to be constantly putting up and taking things down. Once a project is added to the timeline, it stays there throughout the year. This also allows students to learn about timelines and gives parents a way to see the scope of everything their child is learning. But, even more importantly, a classroom timeline is something the class can build together that allows students to see and celebrate all the things they’ve learned and achieved throughout the year!

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