Session 339: Do ‘Working Walls’ Work?

Thursday 2nd February 2017

Visit any classroom around the country, and you will be faced with display walls celebrating the work of students, but every now and then you might stumble across a display board covered in uncompleted work, post-it notes, and generally looking like organised chaos. Welcome to the ‘working wall’.

Following the #UKEdChat poll, this session explored how working walls are used in classrooms, and challenge how effective they are in supporting teaching and learning. In particular, the following questions were asked:

  1. What do you define as the main objective behind a working wall?
  2. How have you seen students using working walls to their benefit?
  3. How can you ensure that all staff are consistent in use of working walls?
  4. Are ‘working walls’ mainly the domain of primary schools? How can they work in secondary?
  5. How do you ensure that working walls are accessible to all students in the classroom?
  6. Please share any instances where you have seen real positive benefits of the use of working walls in your classroom?

Summary

The discussion began with UKEdChatters attempting to pin down the reasons and objectives of having a working wall. This seemed to be a difficult task, as there was no consensus. Many teachers felt the working wall was a resource where they can place helpful posters and information to aid pupils as they work, while others saw it as a place to display work in progress and an area to publicly dissect pupils’ work as exemplars and to model for other pupils. Naturally, the objectives are quite different for each incarnation of the working wall. However, almost everyone involved in the chat stated that they had seen a benefit for students by having the working wall present.

The discussion moved to consistent use of working walls across a school. Some participants thought this was a task for the SLT to manage, while others suggested that sharing good practice between staff would be enough to give a level of consistency. However, others argued that striving for consistency was a false objective for a bespoke working wall which caters for the individual and unique needs of that particular class.

The next question asked whether working walls are the domain of primary schools. No, seemed to be the answer, with many secondary colleagues tweeting that they use them regularly. At any level, making sure working walls are useful and accessible for all is important. There was an interesting discussion about whether working walls could/should be differentiated and if they can be dynamic enough to cater for the ever changing needs of individuals, or whether they are only general reference resources which teachers must supplement to make useful for everyone.

The last question asked participants for real examples of where a working wall had made a positive impact on learning. Many examples were cites, and these can be found in the archive of tweets.

 

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