Student Well-Being Opinion

Get Kids Out of Their Seats, Do a Gallery Walk

By Starr Sackstein — October 06, 2015 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Going to a museum isn’t a passive experience. The viewer moves purposefully around the room, drawn to the different pieces of art and then stops to consider and reflect what he or she sees.

In the classroom context, gallery walks do much of the same thing. They get kids out of their seats, moving around the room, considering the learning and information that is placed before them.

As an alternative to regular presentations where one group or person goes at a time and the rest of the room is asked to listen, take notes and ask questions, the gallery walk, has everyone participating at once.

An added benefit to gallery walks vs. full class presentations is that each child can control the video or pacing as they go. They don’t have to move to another station until they are finished.

In the case of my English class, they will be setting up stations with their groups poetry tutorials on them. Each table is equipped with one or two computers and on each computer a tutorial will be set up to play.

Students will travel in groups of three to each tutorial and while they watch, they will take notes and tweet questions and comments to the class hashtag #WJPSaplit. In an effort to get students to use social media in a responsibly academic way, I’ve implement many different uses for Twitter, in particular, in the classes. Not only do they share ideas publicly, but they learn about content curation and have a place to go back to where a fuller resource on class work is compiled.

They will have two days to get through all 11 tutorials and then will be expected to continue to apply their learning in their independent poetry analysis papers due in another week.

Learning in our class always comes from the group and therefore finding innovative ways for students to show their learning is important. Once students completed their tutorials, they are also required to submit a “cheat sheet” for the class to help aid in their understanding of the topic.

Here is the full assignment: PoetrytutorialAssignment.pdf

Here are some sample student tutorials:

Syntax, Diction and Tone - The Dating Game

Cheat sheet for Syntax, Diction and Tone: EneidPapaBrendonMunizMichaelFiscalettiCheatSheet.pdf

Poetic Forms video

Cheat sheet for poetic forms: CheatSheetPoetryTutorialBarbaraDemetriLara.pdf

Students were also asked to write reflections. These reflections are to be done at the end of assignments to assess their progress against the standards. Students use this as an opportunity to consider their process and learning. I read the reflections before I review the assignments/projects, so I can understand what challenges students faced. This also helps me drive the feedback.

Here is one student sample: PoetryTutorialReflection.pdf

Gallery walks are an effective way to share information in a classroom that gets kids moving. There’s a time for full presentations where students are expected to practice their speaking skills and then there are other times where we can allow them to showcase their creativity and learning using technology. Allowing students to share their hard work using this protocol is an opportunity to celebrate their successes and learn from what they created.

This activity works well for a multitude of different content. Consider using gallery walks for the following (but not limited to the following):

  • pre-unit exploration of a topic
  • jigsaw of new content that supports learning throughout a unit
  • station activities for different skill building
  • labs that need to showcase different materials
  • writing workshop stations
  • celebration of student work after completion

Depending on the size and age level of your students, you will need to differentiate accordingly. The gallery walk can be done with technology or without it. Consider this as a good activity to be done for students who are coming back from lunch who have energy that needs to be soothed.

Movement is essential in a classroom; why not make it a part of the active learning process where we can?

How do you get kids moving or if you’ve used gallery walks, how have they worked out? Please share.

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.