Found pedagogy- using objects that are free to develop and deepen your teaching practice.
Pound land pedagogy is great, but what if you could engage learners with resources that are *free*? I wondered this and decided to think about a resource I use a lot in lessons and is totally free – wall paper samples. So here you have it, 12 exciting ways to use wallpaper in lessons:
1. Frame it!
Classroom a bit grim? No time or money to make it the learning environment your students deserve? Some wallpaper is so pretty you could frame it. In fact, some seems to have been designed for that very purpose, with messages that reinforce the importance of a purposeful attitude and positive learner characteristics. This looks nice and there is minimal teacher effort involved.
2. Tutor Activity / PSHE.
In tutorial I often lead sessions on emotionally complex issues that affect our learners, such as anorexia, self-harm, drug and substance misuse. These issues are heavy and have the potential to be emotionally fraught topics, but the use of open discussion is brilliant, and effective, here. You might like to try providing your tutor group with some wallpaper that they can graffiti/modify/write on in order to express their opinions. Some learners are just not comfortable talking about these type of issues, and wallpaper, can give them a safe template upon which they can express themselves. It is also important for learners to have an output after sessions like this, and even expressing their responses by colouring enables them to participate in the class and engage with the topic.
3. Getting to know you…
The start of the academic year is key for setting the tone, establishing class rules, high expectations and crucially getting to know your learners. You cannot plan appropriately, or provide effective differentiation, if you do not know each of your learners individually. One way to help you do this is to get them to draw around their arm/hand and fill in the space in a creative way with information about themselves. You can then make these into a display where every student is represented and feels valued. Win!
4. Graffiti wall.
Cover a wall in a shared space with wallpaper. Invite your students to share ideas on it – their own, individual wisdom and ideas are often inspiration for their peers. I have used this with with older students giving advice to younger ones, and it is far more powerful and relevant for them to receive advice from peers rather than teachers; I can tell my learners 100 times that they should not rely on re-sits to boost their grades, but it is infinitely more influential to hear it from someone who has made that mistake first hand. This activity also builds up trust between teachers and learners within communities where their interests can often be antagonistic. Show them trust, allow them to create their shared environment – it is rewarding for everyone within the classroom.
5. Collaborative group work.
Move all the furniture in your classroom to the side of the room and roll out some wallpaper across the whole available floor space, this becomes the perfect blank canvas for collaborative work that the whole class can access. I have successfully done with with Sociology AS classes studying women in youth culture. They began collaging images of women from magazines that they saw as stereotypes of women. Following this, they stuck these onto the wallpaper and used speech mark post-it notes to comment on how Sociological theorists would view these stereotypes. My students each had their own colour pens and then annotated how the theorists would evaluate each others ideas. This resulted in quality peer assessment, further developing their evaluation skills, which led to more accurate exam techniques. All of this was made possible by the shared space created by the wallpaper. Furthermore, the students were also extremely proud of their finished work, which fuelled a deeper interest in the subject.
6. Trigger image for AR.
Have your class done some amazing work? Of course they have! Then why not get them to reflect on it more deeply by using the Aurasma app? Get your learners to film and interview each other about a particular piece of work, and then use the wallpaper as the trigger image for augmented reality created using Aurasma. This works by embedding media content so that when you use the app and scan an image, the media content pops up like magic. The app is free and really easy to use, so it makes sense that students not only produce work on shared wallpaper space, but then use an image of that work to reflect on their own learning. You can then use these as starters in following lessons, or for open evenings – it’s a great use of hi-tech learning meeting old skool paper. Thanks to @ICTEvangelist for highlighting this, and @TechMinock has written some brilliant posts about using AR in Education if you would like to do some more reading.
7. Student ownership of learning space.
Whose classroom is it really? Not yours – it is the students, they’re the ones who should be working the hardest, learning the most, being the most creative and innovative with their thinking and arguments. Using wallpaper in the way described above in my Sociology class, gives you amazing ready-made displays that reinforce an ethos that values and recognises the importance of the students work. Your walls should celebrate their achievements and this enables you to do this with style.
8. Solo Stations.
Many teachers now use Solo Taxonomy within their classrooms, and it has become firmly imbedded into my own practice. A cheap roll of wallpaper chopped up, can provide you with a cheap Solo Station, and of course students can work collaboratively on them, or on a larger piece. This is extremely practical in an era of financial pressure on schools. Please see work by @arti_choke for more information on using Solo.
Many wallpapers available have bold geometric patterns, which would be excellent to use in Maths or numeracy lessons. Drawing shapes, recognising patterns, teaching symmetry and angles, projector practice, looking at tessellation, the possibilities are endless and they could even be used as a stimulus for coursework. Thanks to @mrewhite and @TLMaths for suggestions.
10. Stimulus for revision.
Some wallpapers have a very literary feel, they have quotes on them and can be very inspiring, especially for literacy or English work. Learners could cut out chosen quotes and use them as a starting point for their own work, or write on the wallpaper itself as a stimulus for revision. As a ‘new’ or different way of revising, this would serve to engage them in their learning and refocus those students tired of worksheets and revision cards.
11. Developing higher order thinking.
Obviously using wallpaper provides your learners with a large surface area upon which they can demonstrate their understanding, however don’t feel that they will be limited to only this. They can also develop higher order thinking skills by making evaluative work between theorists/authors because the extra space gives you a practical environment in which they can evaluate each others ideas. They could do this by writing on each others paper, using different colour pens, tearing it up and rearrange or restock down.
12. Doodle pad.
Remember that hideous textured wallpaper? Well it finally has a beautiful use. Cut it up into squares and let your learners doodle on it in lessons. Chances are some of them might do this anyway, but doodling is very creative, and encourages them to think about learning in terms of their own creativity. This is also very inclusive as it allows children who fidget or have trouble paying attention to stay engaged in the lesson, whilst having an approved strategy for relieving the fidgets. You could even turn the doodle into a class task and put them together as a collage. Thank you to @musicmind for inspiration here.
So there you have it, 12 things to do with wallpaper to improve your teaching practice. Have you got any more ideas? I would love to think more about how we can create solid pedagogical practice with ‘found’ objects. Thank you to @girlyrunner1 for editing help : )