Ready to add some new teaching strategies to your teacher tool box? If a new year isn’t the time to pull out some fun new activities, I don’t when is! Today, I wanted to share one of the most flexible and well loved teaching strategies I’ve used in my classroom: The Gallery Walk!
Ok… so just in case you haven’t heard of this incredibly flexible teaching strategy and aren’t sure what it is…here’s an “applicious explanation” for you!
A Gallery Walk is basically when students work to explore text, problems, or images that are displayed around the room. Typically, students will write comments, ideas, or answers on these posters as the activity goes.
Setting up for this teaching strategy is super low key!
- poster or paper for students to write their answers on
- object, text, prompt, equation, idea, picture, or task that students will be adding information about
- Place 4-8 posters or gallery stations around the room. Leave space between the posters so that students can easily walk between the posters and have space while they are adding their information.
- Split students into small teams of 3-5.
- Have students move between the posters to add information as needed. This could be done on a timer, or as students finish with their answer, they move to the next.
- Review the information gathered on the poster as a class, discussing correct and incorrect answers. Bonus if the students head up this conversation!
How to Use in Your Classroom
The true beauty of this little teaching strategy is just how flexible it really is! Like seriously… name a subject and I guarantee there’s a way you can work this strategy chameleon into a lesson!
One of my favorite ways to use gallery walks is with making exemplar posters for our spelling patterns for the week.
After introducing our spelling or phonics focus for the week, I’d set out a few posters around the room with the target sound or spelling pattern. Then, students work in groups of three or four to write as many exemplar words for the poster before the timer would go off. Then, they move to the next poster.
After each group had a chance to write words, we’d review the words as a class. During the review, we’d strike out words that didn’t belong, fix any spelling issues, and just generally confirm that each word written on the poster belonged there. At the end, we’d have exemplar posters for our study that week I hung up in the back of the room.
Gallery walks are also a great way to assess your students before beginning a new unit or concept. I used this strategy in my 3rd grade classroom when we started discussing prefixes.
To begin with, I made four different posters with the most common prefixes on them. To complete the activity, I gave students about 6 minutes to walk around and add words that had that prefix. This was the perfect “snapshot” on what my students already knew about prefixes and how they worked (newsflash: it wasn’t as much as I thought! AND there were a ton of “made up” words!)
We completed our study of those four basic prefixes, then we revisited the activity again. This time, students were able to add SOOOO many more words! When it was time to review, they were also able to tell me how the prefix changed the meaning of the base word AND what the new word meant! (Yeah guys… THEY LEARNED! AND were able to articulate their learning! So much happy teacher dancing!)
You can read more about our prefix study in this blog post here!
Now, I wouldn’t actually say this is the real name of this type of gallery walk… but essentially the activity involves students sharing or “dumping” as much as they know about a topic. One of my favorite examples of this is when my class was learning about adjectives.
After reviewing adjectives, I set up five posters around the classroom with various objects on them. Students were tasked with describing the objects using adjectives. Students were given five minutes to write at least one adjective on the poster about each item. This was the perfect activity for students to share their knowledge about adjectives!
I also did something similar when I taught kindergarten. We were working on 3D shapes. As practice, after reviewing the different names, I placed four posters around the room with a 3D shape in the middle. Then, students had two minutes to draw an item that was that shape. When the timer went off, it was time to move to the next poster. Quick and easy informal assessment to see who was understanding 3D shapes!
So this suggestion is a pretty cool one and is something I did with my third graders one year! After learning about the different steps of the scientific process, I set up posters around the room labeled with a step from the scientific process. Then, working in teams of two to three, students worked around the room adding examples of this process in action.
For hypothesis, students would write a sample hypothesis. Also the same for data and so forth. This activity required some serious brain sweat! After students finished, we reviewed the posters and discuss each suggestion that was made. It was perfect way to see if my students truly understood each step of the scientific process.
So these are just a few suggestions for using Gallery Walks in your classroom! I hope this quick post got your brain turning with some fresh ways to get your students up and engaged in the new year! Do you do gallery walks in your classroom? Be sure to share your favorite ways to use this strategy by commenting below!
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