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Bulletin Boards


WRITTEN BY: Raegina Taylor     PICTURES BY: Joyce P. Le




What Are They?

The bane of my existence since I asked if I could have a board has been thinking up new and exciting ways to decorate the thing. However, I have managed to have an

updated board every three weeks in my year and half teaching at my base JHS. However, boards need not take up more of your time then you would like them to. Here are some ideas to get you started or to inspire you to make your own English board to bring English alive outside the classroom for your students!



Types of Boards

1.  Display for Student Work
An easy way to fill up your board is to use it as a display for students work. This may mean your elective class project for the year is to come up with new and interesting ways to decorate the board, or even you could use your normal class work as a tool for display.

The positives

  • Students have pride that their work is on display
  • Other students in the school are more interested as the content is created by ‘one of them’

The negatives

  • Students may heckle others for their work being displayed. This has never happened to me, but it is a foreseeable problem
  • JTLs may have an issue with ‘not the best work’ being on display. I think it is more important to give students who try hard a boost rather than to pamper those for whom English is not too difficult, and so they don’t try hard.

Some things that have worked

  • Mini student projects such as ‘make your own dialogue’ or ‘make your own story’ where you can choose the students who have made the most effort (not necessarily the best English) to display on the board as a prize.
  • For elective classes you could use their projects such as making a newspaper, letter exchange to create a board. Another way is to choose a topic (such as poverty, which is a third-year topic) and ask students to research it and create an interesting board for the other students.


2.  Introduction to Topics in the Textbook

A good way to get students interested in a topic for study is to show them different ways to look at a topic of study in the textbook. (see image)

The positives:

  • Students are given the opportunity outside of class to look deeper into the textbook topic
  • You can take away the direct relationship between a topic and the set grammar point for that topic, by making it more real to students through giving other examples and pictures etc to relate to.

The negatives:

  • If you focus on say a 3rd grade topic, you run the risk of 1st and 2nd grade students not understanding the board’s content.
  • Students may not understand the link between the board and the text. Try and make it specific, by either bringing up the board’s topics in your regular classes (by the way, there are other places where this happens. Check out the English board…) or by referencing the textbook on the board.

Some things that have worked:

  • Using pictures and examples outside of what is given in the text gives students a more rounded view of what the topic is. For example, in the 3rd grade New horizon Book, when talking about the ‘Foster Program in Nepal’ you could show different programs in other countries that help people, or other countries where children have to carry water for a far distance.


3.  Culture Board
I have found this type of board to be the most interesting for students. Through using real life objects and your imagination you can make your culture and the cultures of the world more alive and accessible to students.


The positives:

  • Students are exposed to topics and elements of culture that are not their own.
  • Students are exposed to aspects and elements of culture that are present in their own, but which are addressed differently in other cultures.

The negatives:

  • You may need to rely on some of the native language to explain the cultural differences.
  • Culture is a difficult concept to grasp, so the more realistic and relevant you can make the board the more accessible and interesting it will be for students.

Some things that have worked:

  • Taking holidays such as Christmas and using it to create tasks or worksheets for student to complete.
  • Using events such as World Harmony Day to show the different problems that other cultures face.                                     
  • Using any trips you have taken and using things you have bought on those trips and photographs to show students a different way of life. Students love these boards as they know you have been there, so making it more realistic. Also, it makes a great talking start point in the corridors!
  • Use things that are going on Internationally in your community such as English plays, workshops, concerts etc.
  • Displaying aspects about your culture such as seasons, sports, clothes, music etc.
  • Using a point system to track what country’s culture you are going to focus on next.


4.  Encourage communication
This type of board can incorporate any of the other board types whilst adding in a section on communication.


The positives:

  • Students are given the opportunity to use the board’s information.

The negatives:

  • The focus of the board may be too easy or too difficult depending on the grade. Maybe have a 3-in-1 board to target all areas, or little flap bits for students of different levels (ie Grade look here etc).

Some things that have worked:

  • Targeting vocabulary of the topic of the board, for example winter, Christmas, sports etc.
  • Creating a picture story in which a new vocabulary word is revealed each day.


5.  Interactive Boards
This is an aspect that can be included into any board. It aims to make English more real and tangible, instead of just a set of grammar rule sand memorized vocabulary.


The positives:

  • Encourages students to think about the board’s content
  • Gives students the opportunity to communicate with the teacher in a non-confrontational way

The negatives:

  • Trying to find new worksheet ideas for each new board that gets students interested
  • Students REALLY repel extra work in JHS. Maybe have a reward system set up or some kind of competition (see the ‘Holiday Contests’ section)

Some things that have worked:

  • Worksheets and surveys focused on the topic of the board.
  • Projects such as creating cards, writing letters or a mini-project competition.
  • Students try to create a piece to be added to the board, such as an Easter egg with a message or word on it.
  • Using materials from home or other cultures. I have a table set up with books, magazines, catalogues and newspapers from English speaking countries. Students love to try and sound out the words and work out what things are about.
  • Make something to accompany your board. Things I’ve made include; an Aussie Rules Football field, an Easter egg basket, Valentines Day card, Christmas standing tree as seen in the image to the right.


Aspects of the Board

1.  English or Native Language Usage
In which language should the board be written?  This is an age-old debate as to whether or not using the native language is beneficial in learning to communicate in English.  When it comes to using the native language on the board, it depends on the type of board and the difficulty level of the content on the board. As you are working with a range of English levels (the first grade students are not going to understand ‘will’ and ‘it is difficult to go skiing in winter’) it is important that you are aware of the level of grammar and vocabulary you are using.

In culture boards, I tend to use the native language to explain aspects, as it is more about students getting the idea of the culture as opposed to the language. However, a way to get around using the native language is to use pictures or tangible evidence instead of words. The more pictures, drawings, maps, objects you use, the less native language you have to use. On the other hand, the more English you use, the more daunting it is for students to look at the board and try and work out what it is about. It is important to keep a balance to maintain student interest without hand feeding them the information. Think clues to help out students to guess…


2.  Layout
The layout of the board is important to the impact that the board has on students. It needs to be easy to navigate and easy to look at.  An easy way to maintain layout is to have headed sections for your board. This also helps you in the planning of relevant content for the board.

3.  Pictures, Diagrams & Maps

If you have a colour printer, or not, pictures, diagrams and maps are a great way to catch student’s eyes. If students have something more tangible to look at and to relate the information on the board to, the more likely they are going to be able to get what the board is going on about.

It is important to keep these things in mind:

  • Don’t overload the board with these aspects or it could look like a jumble of nothing. Try and break the board into sections and each section has information and a relative picture to go with it.
  • Do try and make the pictures bright and colourful. This will help to catch the student’s eye.
  • Don’t have maps in the native language.
  • Don’t have unclear pictures just for the sake of having a picture.


2.  Real-Life Objects
The actual objects are great for gaining interest. Students always crowd around to look at weird things, like a tiger tooth, money, real Christmas cards, material, shells etc.  Be careful that the things you put out are not valuable or only put out the valuable objects at lunch time when you can supervise them. I also recommend taking note of how much money or how many of something you put out.  These can also make your board stand out. Things like a real Christmas tree, tinsel, party hats, balloons… anything that is real and that catches attention is great!


Example Boards

Topic list:

  • Advent calendar - use information about Christmas as a countdown. Each day put up a new piece of information.
  • Music - pictures and a bio of some bands from your country, or bands that you may use in class.
  • Classroom English - common expressions used by the teacher or student during class
  • Easter - the tradition behind eater, how it is celebrated in different areas, crafts of Easter.
  • English is spoken in... - a list of countries and a map showing where English is spoken in the world. You could use comparative statistics between the native language and English here, such as how many speakers and learners world wide.
  • Halloween - explaining the tradition of Halloween around the world, some craft activities etc
  • How are you? - an accompaniment to a round of warm-ups I did to get students to use different expressions of emotion.
  • Idioms - a humorous look into the working and application of the language
  • Info Magnets (Magnetic poetry) - allow students to play around with parts of a sentence to make nonsense.
  • Lunch around the world
  • Seasons - in different countries, including clothes, time of year, temperature, changes in the environment
  • Travels and trips - places you have been to, things you have done in your free time. Anything from going overseas, to traveling in Japan, to activities such as music concerts, hiking, skydiving, fishing, ferry trips, festivals etc.
  • Sports - sports that don’t exist in the country, such as cricket. Also an explanation of the rules.  You may want to use the native language for this.
  • A trip around the world - I have a passport system in place where students aim to get photos of various locations into their passport. To accompany this I have a world map with the locations mapped out, and as student progress, I put up an information page on each country.
  • Birthdays - include decorations, balloons, real birthday cards, have a birthday card competition.
  • Natural Disasters - following a natural disaster in your area or a massive one in the news.
  • Superheroes and comics
  • Exchange information - profile of the school, area and students that are involved in an exchange program.
  • Photo Examples

(Extra content for boards can be found in the English Corner)




This page was last modified on Saturday, May 28, 2016 03:36:27 AM